How to Support Your Loved One When They Are in Addiction Treatment

2 min read · 4 sections

When you have a loved one with a substance use disorder, it can be both a relief and a challenging time when they enter drug and alcohol addiction treatment/rehab. You may feel helpless and confused about how to best support your loved one while they are in rehab and once they come home.

As their loved one, you are an important part of their recovery. One of the most valuable tools in recovery is the support and emotional healing individuals get from their friends and family who care about them and want to see them get and stay sober.

Here are a few things you can do when you’re able to communicate with, visit, and prepare for them to come home after rehab.

Encourage Them to Stay in Treatment

how to support your loved ones during family therapy
When your loved one was in the midst of an active addiction, it may have been a struggle to get them to attend treatment. Once your loved one agreed to treatment, it may have felt like your hardest work was done. But in truth, your loved one will likely struggle with the decision to stay in treatment and will probably continue to need encouragement from you that they’re doing the right thing. You can help them to stay committed by encouraging them and reminding them of the reasons why they are there.

If the rehab center provides family therapy, do your best to attend these sessions. This shows not only your commitment to their sobriety, but that you support and love them and care about their health and well-being through the good and bad times. It may also help you and your loved one learn to communicate better with one another, with the help of a mental health counselor familiar with addiction and the potential stress on family dynamics it can cause.

Support Your Loved Ones by Writing Them Letters

If you are able, write letters to your loved one while they are in treatment. Stay positive and supportive in these letters. It may be tempting to share the hurt, betrayal, and fear you have felt; but, your loved one needs positivity and support during this time in their recovery. Take the time to share your emotions in a positive way. Receiving mail from you while in rehab lets your loved one know that you’re still there for them, still care about them, and will continue to support them when they have completed treatment.

What To Do When A Loved One Comes Home From Rehab

After your loved one has completed treatment, they will need to rebuild their life sober. There’s a good chance that they will find this transition difficult and even overwhelming at times. Your support is a valuable part of their reintegration into society and their ongoing recovery. Some ways to help your loved one stay sober include:

  • Encouraging sobriety. The nature of addiction means that people cannot limit their consumption of drugs or alcohol and have “just one” drink, for example. Encourage them to stay away from all drug and alcohol use. Don’t use these substances while in their presence, avoid situations where substances will be used, and let them know that abstinence is the key to recovery.
  • Helping them build coping skills. Stress is a part of life, and we can’t avoid it. However, learning coping skills can help us get through the difficult parts of life. Be there to listen, to talk with them, and help them process stressful experiences. Remind them of coping strategies they learned while in rehab and encourage them to turn to those when life gets tough.
    Man coming home from rehab after getting support from his loved ones
  • Encouraging your loved one to attend support groups. There are many NA, AA, or other support groups available in almost every community to help those living with recovery from a substance use disorder. Many rehab centers hold alumni events. These groups are an important part of recovery, as they let your loved one know they are not alone in the struggle and have the support of others who have walked a similar path.

Finding Support for Your Loved Ones

Having a loved one with substance use disorder can be a lonely, confusing experience. Know you are not alone — there are supports available not only for your loved one but for you, too. Look for Nar-Anon or Al-Anon meetings in your area. These meetings intended for family and friends of those living with addiction, and can provide you with information and social supports you need to help your loved one and get support for yourself, too.

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