Q&A: Life After Addiction Rehab

I live in a different state from my loved one. How can I be supportive of his life after addiction rehab from a distance? Talk to your loved one. Let him/her know you are supportive. Ask him/her how he/she is doing. Ask him/her if there are specific ways you can be emotionally supportive. Regular contact, even if it is by telephone, is an important expression of support.
How often should my loved one be attending 12-step meetings? We recommend daily meetings for the first 90 days following discharge from addiction rehab and a minimum of four to seven weekly thereafter. We also recommend that family members attend at least one Al-Anon/Nar-Anon meeting per week, and, if desired, one (only one) open AA/NA meeting per week.
What are Return Visits? Patients and spouses/significant others are invited back to Talbott Recovery for two days to participate in lectures and process groups. Return Visits are affectionately referred to as “tune-ups” or “recharging of the batteries”. We recommend that alumni participate in a Return Visit 90 days following discharge, again in six months, and then yearly thereafter. You can read more about, and register for, return visits by clicking here.
During my loved one’s active addiction, he/she took medications from others’ medicine cabinets. I fear that this behavior will continue after addiction rehab. What should I do? Discuss your fears and concerns with your loved one. Then, together, you can develop a plan that will address your fears and concerns, and help keep your loved one safe. This “safety plan” might include the following: asking in advance that medications be removed, asking someone to check risky areas to make sure they are safe, or agreeing to not go into the bathroom and other risky areas of the home by himself/herself.
I like to drink socially. Why can’t I do so around my loved one? It is important that exposure to alcohol and drugs be kept to a minimum, especially during the first several months after addiction rehab. It is for this reason that we recommend you not drink around persons in early recovery, even if his/her drug of choice is not alcohol. This can be re-evaluated annually.
We like to entertain. Why can’t I have alcohol in our home? As stated above, the goal is to work toward minimizing exposure to alcohol and other drugs after addiction rehab. We cannot over-state the strength of our recommendation in this regard: that the home of a loved one in early recovery be free of alcohol and drugs in order to be a “safe haven.”
What about special occasions, such as family celebrations, weddings and holidays? Our concern about exposure to alcohol and other drugs also drives our recommendation to help persons in early recovery avoid exposure to situations where alcohol and other drugs will be present. For the person recently discharged from addiction rehab, these situations are potentially very dangerous. We do, however, understand that sometimes it is important to attend special occasions. When these situations occur, talk with your loved one about them before they attend. Develop a “safety plan” for the event. The plan may include having a sober partner present at all times, agreeing to arrive at the event early and then leave early, or attending a 12 Step meeting before and/or right after the event.
My medication was stolen by my loved one in the past. What should I do about medications in the home since her discharge from addiction rehab? Again, talk with your loved one about your concerns; and, together, develop a safety plan, which addresses them. Agree on how you will handle medications that you or another family member must have access to, for example, such medications might be stored in a locked safe or at a neighbor’s house.
Our religion is very important to us. What about communion? Alcoholics and addicts should not receive any communion containing alcohol. Talk with your priest or minister about this, and he/she will be able to make appropriate accommodations for your loved one.
What should I do in the event of a relapse? Access your local support, your Al-Anon group, and your individual or family therapist. Encourage your loved one to contact his/her recovery network (sponsor, monitor, addictionologist, therapist, etc).
Are there other ways I can be supportive of my loved one following addiction rehab? Be open to, and willing to, follow these guidelines and suggestions. If couples or family therapy is recommended, participate. Support your loved one’s aftercare plan (meetings, therapy, return visits, etc.). If you have questions or concerns, contact your family counselor. And, just as important as anything else, take care of yourself.