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How to Help Someone Coming out of Rehab

how to help someone coming out of rehab

Rehab is not a cure. It is an amazing starting point on a life long journey of recovery.

Alcoholism and drug addiction are family diseases.  For most people, living with someone who has an addiction problem leads to them becoming just as wrapped up in addicted person as the alcoholic or addict has become wrapped up in alcohol or drugs.

Boundaries. This word is crucial in helping someone who is getting out of rehab. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for people to get out of rehab and think they are cured. This fallacy usually doesn’t last long and that person returns to a life of using alcohol or drugs.

If this happens it is the job of the loved one to make it known that this behavior is not acceptable and set boundaries that will encourage their loved one to return to a life of recovery as quickly as possible.

Many times we act irrationally because we are afraid for the ones we love who are struggling. Our fear makes us do things that we think are helping the alcoholic or addict to stay safe in the short-term but in reality are actually helping to kill them more quickly.

A prime example of this behavior is giving our loved ones money when we know they are using drugs or alcohol again.

Our thinking tends to be that if we don’t give them money they will have to do unspeakable things to get the money and by just giving it to them we are keeping them safer. This may be true in the short-term but it may be one of those unspeakable experiences that brings a person to realize this is not the type of life they want to live and seek help once again.

Why would someone get help if they know they can just keep getting what they need from their loved ones with no real consequences?

Al-anon family groups are a great resource for people whose loved ones are struggling with drugs and alcohol. Alcoholism and drug addiction is a family disease and Al-anon helps us be part of a family solution.

The following reading from Al-anon takes a closer look at the idea of detaching from a loved one who is behaving in a way that we know is bad for them.

“Detachment is neither kind nor unkind. It does not imply judgement or condemnation of the person or situation from which we are detaching. Separating ourselves from the adverse effects of another person’s alcoholism can be a means of detaching: this does not necessarily require physical separation. Detachment can help us look at our situations realistically and objectively. Alcoholism is a family disease. Living with the effects of someone else’s drinking is too devastating for most people to bear without help. In Al-Anon we learn nothing we say or do can cause or stop someone else’s drinking. We are not responsible for another person’s disease or recovery from it. Detachment allows us to let go of our obsession with another’s behavior and begin to lead happier and more manageable lives, lives with dignity and rights, lives guided by a Power greater than ourselves. We can still love the person without liking the behavior.”


• Not to suffer because of the actions or reactions of other people

• Not to allow ourselves to be used or abused by others in the interest of another’s recovery

• Not to do for others what they can do for themselves

• Not to manipulate situations so others will eat, go to bed, get up, pay bills, not drink, or behave as we see fit

• Not to cover up for another’s mistakes or misdeeds

• Not to create a crisis

• Not to prevent a crisis if it is in the natural course of events

-By learning to focus on ourselves, our attitudes and well-being improve. We allow the alcoholics in our lives to experience the consequences of their own actions.

Al-Anon is a worldwide fellowship that offers a program of recovery for the families and friends of alcoholics, whether or not the alcoholic recognizes the existence of a drinking problem or seeks help. Members give and receive comfort and understanding through a mutual exchange of experience, strength, and hope. Sharing of similar problems binds individuals and groups together in a bond that is protected by a tradition of anonymity. Al-Anon is not a religious organization or a counseling agency. It is not a treatment center nor is it allied with any other organization offering such services. Al-Anon Family Groups, which includes Alateen for young members, usually teenagers, neither expresses opinions on outside issues nor endorses outside enterprises. No dues or fees are required. Membership is voluntary, requiring only that one’s own life has been adversely affected by someone else’s drinking problem.”

When your loved one gets out of treatment it is important to coordinate with the treatment facility and your loved one to discuss your his or her discharge plan

If the treatment center has been doing a good job you should have already been speaking with your loved ones case manager or therapist throughout the course of treatment

Make sure your loved one has 12-step or other recovery-oriented meetings set up for when they discharge

If they are flying home make sure you or someone safe is picking them up from the airport. It only takes one bad decision to return someone to drinking or using drugs and having a friend that uses drugs or alcohol is one of the most common and most dangerous mistakes people make when discharging from rehab

Be willing to attend open AA meetings with your loved one for support or other open recovery meetings. Let them know you support them and encourage them when they do the right thing

Above all: Take care of yourself. Don’t let another person’s struggles bring you down. If you are firm but kind your loved one has the best chance of recovering and you have the best change of living a happy and usefully whole life.

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