Upon entering into a substance abuse recovery facility, clients will face a “blackout period” in which their ability to contact the outside world is restricted.
Depending on the facility, the length of the blackout period will vary.
For many recovery facilities, the blackout period lasts five days and is essentially a prohibition of outside communication—meaning no phone calls, no visitations, no outings.
In the beginning, this blackout period may appear as an unnecessary punishment, but a further understanding of its purpose can allow both the client and their loved ones to take full advantage of this time. The intent of the no-contact period is not to punish; it is to allow your loved one to concentrate solely on the initiation of the healing and recovery process.
At first, this blackout period might come as a challenge. You will probably be curious to know how your loved one is doing, especially in situations where you have been entangled with an addict’s behavior.
Understanding the reason for the blackout period will help you cope with the first few days of your loved one’s recovery. Rather than feeling disconnected from your loved one, you will see that a period of isolation is an essential component to recovery—for them and for you. As a new chapter unfolds, a moment of silence presents the opportunity for a shift in focus. Now is a time to embrace the silence.
The blackout period allows the client time to detox.
Once her body is physically rid of chemicals, she will feel an immediate improvement . However, this initial improvement can be illusory. The chemicals may be out of her system, but the underlying root is still alive.
It takes a bit of time after kicking chemicals to adjust to a life without using. The blackout period allows your loved one to address basic living needs such as diet and sleeping patterns without the added stress of being surrounded by friends and family.
That’s not to say that friends and family are the cause of the problem, but part of recovery is developing a sense of identity. The blackout period allows the client a chance to focus on his own sobriety and self-healing.
The blackout period gives everyone involved a new beginning.
After months or perhaps even years of swinging between emotional extremes, from trying to defeat a substance to hitting rock bottom, it’s time to appreciate silence. At this point, bills, jobs, and world affairs should all take a backstage to rebuilding a life.
It’s also a new beginning for those on the outside.
Following tumultuous times, a span of silence can be healing. As a loved one of the person entering recovery, you are probably used to the entanglement of your own feelings with theirs.
As you’ve probably heard, addiction is a family disease. Much like other illnesses, when someone is struggling with substance abuse, everyone is affected. You may remember yourself saying, “I wouldn’t have lost my cool if she weren’t an alcoholic” or the like.
Yet, in order to provide future support, you must allow the past to become the past. While your loved one is physically detoxing, consider this blackout period a time for you to emotionally detox.
In this case, your problems have become conflated with the addiction of your loved one. So much, that both perspectives have become muddied by the presence of heroin, meth, alcohol, etc. It is vital for you to take steps toward letting go.
For the people on the outside, this blackout time can come as a silent retreat. You can feel comforted with knowing that your loved one is getting the care he or she needs. This is also a time for you to develop an action plan for future communication.
Use the blackout period to focus on yourself.
Like many, you have probably been pulled into the ringer and given too much or not enough from your addicted loved one. Now with no contact, you may want to write yourself a letter or a list of questions.
It’s time to revamp your lifestyle. Take a walk. Go to the salon. Go on a mini vacation. Give yourself something you need in order to regain your independence from the other person.
As your loved one begins a new chapter, so too, must you allow a new energy to filter in. Distance is a long turned-to antidote for codependency. By giving yourself what you need, when the time comes to communicate, you will be a stronger person and thus offer better support.
Distance from each other will allow you both to reconstruct a proper balance in how much energy you pour into others’ lives. Trust that this break in contact is vital for the future sustainability of your loved one’s sobriety and your relationship with him or her.
After completing the blackout period at Fair Oaks, clients may use the house phone during regulated times, and weekends will allow for in-house visits. By honoring the blackout period, you are giving your loved one and yourself the gift of healing.