How to Prepare When Your Loved One Comes Home from Treatment

By The Fix staff 09/08/20

You’re probably thrilled to have them home, but might find yourself walking on eggshells.

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Couple at table, in serious conversation
Just like it’s important for them to respect your boundaries, you need to respect theirs, too. Photo 41921361 © Iakov Filimonov | Dreamstime.com

When a loved one goes to rehab for drug or alcohol abuse, a lot can change in a short period of time. Welcoming your family member or friend home is a happy moment, but it can also be awkward. Many people struggle to trust that their loved one has changed, or to give them the space and grace to continue healing.

When your loved one comes home from rehab, they need love and support more than ever. Yet, it’s important to deliver that without seeming overbearing. Here are 4 tips for helping a loved one who is returning home from rehab.

Ask them what they want from you.

The best way to know how to support your loved one is to ask them how you can best be there for them during this transition period. Everyone who completes drug or alcohol rehab is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all way to help them feel at home after treatment.

Instead of assuming that you know what your loved one wants at this time, have an open and honest conversation. This can be hard for people who have been in a caregiving role, particularly mothers or spouses. It’s tempting to just fall back into that caregiving role, but it might not be what’s best. Instead, your loved one might tell you that they need some space, or ask you to not ask them too many questions about their recovery.

Set clear expectations.

At the same time, you do have a right to understand what’s going on with your loved one, especially if they are living in your home. Chances are, they’ve broken your trust in the past during their active addiction, and it’s okay to still feel guarded because of that.

During the conversation about how to support them, outline your boundaries. For example, you might have a curfew, or not want them using the car other than to go to work. Just remember — this conversation goes both ways. Your loved one might ask you to not go into their private space or tell others about their experience. Just like it’s important for them to respect your boundaries, you need to respect theirs, too.

Give them space and privacy.

Your life has been impacted by your loved one’s illness, so it’s natural to feel like you want to do everything possible to help them avoid a relapse. That’s understandable, but it’s important to remember that your loved one is an adult, and only they can take responsibility for their recovery.

Try not to pester your loved one about their recovery — don’t monitor how many meetings they’re going to or whether they’re taking their medications (or course, if they ask you to take that role, it’s okay). Instead, support them by helping when they need it and demonstrating a healthy lifestyle throughout the household.

Continue your own therapy.

Loving a person with substance use disorder can be taxing. It’s easy to fall into your own unhealthy roles, like becoming codependent. That doesn’t go away when your loved one completes treatment.

The best way for you to manage your expectations and master healthy communication is to continue with your own therapy. Work with a therapist who is experienced in helping families who are touched by addiction. Professional input will help you be able to navigate this delicate transition period with grace.

Welcoming a family member home from treatment is tricky, not just for you, but for your loved one as well. Although they’re clean and sober now, you’re both actively working on healing the wounds that addiction brought into your life. Unfortunately, for many families, that takes longer than the 30 days spent in a treatment facility.

However, if you can handle each other with love, respect and honesty during this transition time, you’ll have a great basis for moving forward together and continuing as a more healthy family.

Sober Partners provides residential treatment in Newport Beach, California. Get more information at their website, by calling 855-982-3247, or on Facebook.

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