Helping a Family Member through Drug Treatment

Your loved one has finally agreed to go to drug rehab. Maybe you’ve staged an intervention or maybe your family member has agreed to go to drug rehab on their own; however you’ve arrived, your loved one is finally getting the help they need. It is now up to your loved one to do the work to gain sobriety, but you can still be there cheering them along the way. Helping your family member through drug rehab can provide the support and encouragement they need to focus on recovery and gain sobriety.

Helping a Family Member through Drug Rehab: Before

Even if your family member agrees to go to drug rehab it is not uncommon for them to try and back out, especially if you wait too long to send them to rehab. Fear, denial and the strong pull of their addiction can quickly change their mind about what’s best for them. If this happens, don’t accommodate their rationalization about why they don’t need rehab or let them make excuses for putting it off. Have the rehab already set up and travel accommodations made before the intervention so they immediately get into treatment after they agree. Your family member will probably be scared or nervous, so reassure them of your love and support and that you’ll be waiting for them when they return.

Helping a Family Member through Drug Rehab: During

During the first few days or weeks of rehab, you probably won’t be allowed to speak to or contact your family member in any way. This is for their own good and is designed to help them focus on their recovery without the distractions of the outside world and relationships. Once contact is allowed, it’s a good idea to write letters of encouragement and send pictures or comfort items as long as they’re allowed. Keep your letters and phone conversations positive and avoid talking about problems at home. You want your family member to feel supported and loved, not worried about what is waiting for them at home. Even if you miss your family member and it hurts to have them away, avoid saying things that will make them feel guilty or too homesick, which could make them leave treatment early.

Depending on the treatment program and your family member’s progress in rehabilitation, you may be asked to participate in family group therapy sessions. During these meetings, a counselor can help family members examine relationship patterns that could affect—positively or negatively—the family member’s recovery process. These therapy sessions can also be helpful for families to better understand substance abuse and how they can work with their family member to retain their sobriety once they are back home.

Even if you participate in group sessions, you may also want to pursue individual therapy for yourself, especially if the family member’s addiction has taken a toll on you. You can also consider attending support group meetings for family members of addicts. Al-Anon is a 12-step style program specifically designated for people who have a loved one struggling with alcohol abuse. Al-Anon can educate you about addiction and, just as important, introduce you to a community of people who are in similar situations and can show you compassion and empathy.

Helping a Family Member through Drug Rehab: After

When your family member graduates from drug rehab it is a very exciting time. It is also a very delicate period in which old triggers and cravings can threaten their sobriety. Talk to the counselors at the drug rehab about your family member’s sobriety. If they recommend sober living or another form of aftercare, be supportive and encourage your loved one to go. If your family member comes home immediately after drug rehab, remove any triggers before they return such as alcohol and prescription drugs. You may even have to ask certain friends or family members not to visit. Above all, continue to be supportive of your loved one and listen to them.

You may also be put in a position to help ease the transition back to normal life. That can include planning activities that will encourage your family member to pursue healthy habits, such as going to the gym or taking a class to meet new people. You may also keep on attending group therapy as a family to work on the emotions and issues that can arise with your family member back at home. You can also continue to attend Al-Anon support group meetings, and encourage your family member to continue with their 12-step meetings as well.

With your family member back home, you may need to stay vigilant about watching for any red flags that could indicate a relapse. Sobriety is an ongoing process and it is important to create an atmosphere that is free of judgment, but you also must be mindful to not fall into codependent or enabling behaviors. Putting in the work to understand addiction can help you navigate this process. Again, individual counseling or the assistance of a support group can be crucial for you during this time.

The Benefits of Family Support

The love and support you can offer your family member during rehabilitation is vital, especially when they are in an inpatient program and can feel isolated. That positive reinforcement can be just the thing to help your loved one push through a hard day and continue on towards sobriety.

Supporting your family member in rehab can also change the family dynamics. Therapy can point out a family’s strengths, and the areas that need work, and that can create a healthier home environment for everyone, not just the family member dealing with substance addiction. It can also be a way to work towards reconciliation in fractured relationships and create healing.

Helping a family member in drug rehab can be a monumental job—but it also can be life-changing for the better. If you need help or want more information on drug rehabilitation, learn more from Casa Palmera today.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.