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Healing, Strengthening, and Advancing the Lives of LGBTQ People Seeking Recovery

12 Things To Do When A Loved One Gets Out Of Rehab

If your loved one is about to get out of rehab, you’re probably going through a lot. On one hand, you may feel anxious to resume a normal life. On the other hand, you may wonder what normal means after such a big transition. Probably more than anything, you want to make this period as smooth as possible for everyone involved. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 12 things to do when a loved one gets out of rehab.

What To Expect When A Loved One Gets Out Of Rehab

After a loved one returns home from rehab, most families deal with a mix of emotions. Some may just want things to go back to normal, while others may feel angry, scared, or worried about the future. Everyone experiences this transition period differently, but every feeling is valid. 

As you’re preparing for someone’s return, it’s important to remember that recovery can be a vulnerable, confusing, and awkward time for people. Still, coming home from rehab can be a positive experience if handled properly. The key to a successful return is planning. This will help make the transition smoother for everyone involved. 

On the most basic level, the best way to support someone is by:

  • Helping them stay clean and sober by making healthy choices that promote physical and emotional well-being
  • Providing a stable place to live
  • Creating a meaningful daily routine
  • Cultivating a community based on support, love, friendship, and hope

Beyond these initial suggestions, here are 12 more things to do when a loved one gets out of rehab.

1. Educate yourself

First and foremost, educate yourself about drug and alcohol addiction. Focus not only on addiction in general but also on the specific substance use disorder (SUD) your loved one suffers from. 

Having more knowledge on the topic of addiction will help you better understand what your loved one is going through (and has gone through during active addiction). It will also help you anticipate what to expect in early recovery. Learning more about your loved one’s specific addiction can help you recognize potential triggers and prevent a relapse. 

Not sure where to start? Here are some other articles from our blog to check out:

2. Clean the house

On the practical side of things, it’s a good idea to clean your house before your loved one comes home. Eliminating physical objects associated with the addiction can mean the difference between a 5-minute craving and a full-blown relapse. 

Make sure to eliminate any items like drugs or drug paraphernalia (e.g. syringes, needles, or pipes. This is another place where specific knowledge of your loved one’s particular SUD is helpful. By knowing which drug (s) they use, you’ll be able to identify hiding spots and know which kinds of things to look out for. 

For example, if your loved one was addicted to heroin, you might find syringes under the couch, tucked away in the garage, or stashed in the backyard. As a general rule, people with SUDs are very creative when it comes to hiding drugs and paraphernalia, so think creatively as you clean. 

It may also be helpful to ask someone to help you. Not only will this make the job easier, but the other person can serve as a second pair of eyes and help you find items you would have otherwise missed.  

3. Lock up prescription pills

This one is up to you, but we suggest locking up any prescription pills when you’re planning for a loved one’s return from rehab. 

Removing access to painkillers, antidepressants, or anti-anxiety medications will decrease the potential for relapse. Over time, you can reassess the situation and decide whether you want to keep certain medications under lock and key.

4. Communicate

Active addiction is all about isolation and deception, so encouraging inclusion and open communication are essential when a loved one returns home from rehab

Talk to your loved one about potential triggers, challenges they’re experiencing, goals they have, and where they can go for continuing support. These conversations won’t always be easy, but they’re essential to mending your relationship and rebuilding trust.

5. Connect

Not only is it important to communicate and connect with your loved one, but it’s also important to find support outside of your immediate family or social circle. 

Find a local support group for families, friends, or spouses where you can open up about your experiences. Here you can share what you’re feeling and thinking about your loved one coming home from rehab, as well as listen to others’ experiences. It may feel awkward at first, but you’ll soon realize you’re not alone. 

Examples include Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and SMART Recovery.

6. Get help if you need it

In the same vein, don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you’re feeling angry, irritated, or afraid about the situation you’re in. Talking to a counselor or a psychiatrist will help you learn how to cope with your feelings and express them in healthy ways. 

You and your loved ones may also find family therapy helpful. This type of therapy helps you address the emotional scars your loved one caused during their addiction. Similarly, seeking help together is a way to heal past wounds and rebuild the trust you once had in each other.

7. Be patient

Always remember that recovery is a process, not a destination. Even though your loved one spent 30, 60, or 90 days in an inpatient rehab program, they aren’t “cured” of their addiction. 

Addiction is a chronic disease and has the same relapse rate as other chronic diseases (40 to 60 percent in other words). What’s more, some people go through rehab several times before they gain control of their addiction.

If challenging emotions come up or difficult situations arise, try to remember that your loved one is doing the best they can.

8. Develop a routine

If your loved one was in an inpatient rehab facility, they likely got accustomed to following a strict routine. And for good reason. Having a daily set of tasks helps promote a healthy lifestyle and reduce the chance of a relapse. Indeed, studies show that people are more likely to drink or use drugs when they are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.

A daily routine could include things like making the bed, cleaning the house, maintaining a job, attending meetings, or going to the gym.

9. Find some hobbies

Hobbies help people stay busy and relieve stress. Encourage your loved one to reconnect with hobbies they used to enjoy or help them find a new hobby. If you feel up to it, you can even practice a hobby together. Doing so provides another opportunity to reconnect and create positive memories together. 

Need some inspiration? Check out this list of more than 1,000 hobbies!

10. Support ongoing treatment

Treatment doesn’t end when your loved one finishes rehab. Rather, they need continued support to address the underlying causes of their addiction and maintain their sobriety. 

Encourage your loved one to attend counseling appointments and support group meetings. You can also learn the specific concepts covered in their support group so you can apply this philosophy at home.

11. Recognize the signs of relapse

Ideally, you won’t have to worry about your loved one relapsing, but it’s best to be prepared just in case. Recognizing the signs of relapse will empower you to help your loved one before it’s too late. 

Here are some behaviors that may indicate that your loved one is on the verge of a relapse:

  • They begin to reminisce about the “good old days” when they were abusing substances
  • They start to connect with friends who also have SUDs
  • They visit places associated with their addiction
  • They have sudden changes in behavior or attitude
  • They stop attending 12-step or support group meetings
  • They lose interest in hobbies they once enjoyed
  • They start keeping secrets or try to hide things

12. Understand how to handle a relapse

While it’s important to recognize the signs of a relapse, it’s just as important, if not more important, to understand what to do if a loved one relapses

If you believe a loved one has relapsed, do not try to confront them when they’re under the influence of a substance. They’re not in the right state of mind to interact with you and you’ll likely end up frustrated or hurt. 

Once sober, approach them calmly and without judgment. Try to avoid accusatory or moralizing statements like “how could you?” or “you should know better.” Instead, ask open-ended questions and actively listen. This strategy is more difficult, but ultimately it’s more constructive than being on the attack. 

Similarly, avoid emotional appeals. Such statements tend to make people feel guilty. Often feelings of guilt lead to substance abuse as people try to “escape” their problems. 

Finally, remind your loved one that a relapse doesn’t mean failure. They can always get back on track. To that end, encourage your loved one to reach out to their sponsor (if they have one) or help them contact an outpatient addiction center to receive ongoing support. 

La Fuente Is Here To Help

Our Los Angeles treatment center provides intimate, specialized, and LGBTQ-centered substance use treatment.

We do everything we can to accompany our clients regardless of where they are on their recovery journey. To that end, we offer medically supervised detoxification, inpatient, and outpatient programs. In addition, we provide ongoing support after rehab ends.

To find out more about La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center, complete the form below. After receiving your response, a member of our staff will contact you within 24 hours.

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