Learn / What to Do When Your Loved One Goes to Rehab

What to Do When Your Loved One Goes to Rehab

Kayla Gill
 October 14th, 2022|   Clinically Reviewed by 
Rajnandini Rathod

When you love someone with addiction or mental health issues, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You might feel like you’re stuck in a loop, waiting for them to get the help they need. And when it’s hard to keep things stable right now, it’s even harder to plan for the future.

When a loved one decides to go to residential rehab, it might provide some relief, but you might also feel stressed about how to support them through this new stage of recovery. Here are some ways you can care for them, and for yourself, throughout the treatment process.

Help Them Choose a Rehab Program

Choosing a treatment center is a big decision. And after your loved one commits to getting help, it’s important for them to keep up momentum. You can support this process by doing research with them, and helping them consider their options. This might also help you feel better about the journey they’re embarking on.

1. Explore different types of rehabs. With so many types, locations, specializations, and more, there’s a lot to consider. You can start by learning about different kinds of treatment. While there are countless ways to heal, a few approaches are especially popular:

2. Encourage them to get an expert opinion. You shouldn’t be solely responsible for finding them the perfect program. And a medical professional can recommend types of addiction treatment1 that will work for their lifestyle, condition, and other needs.

3. Consider important parts of your loved one’s identity.

Educate Yourself on Addiction Recovery

1. Learn about their addiction or mental health issues, so you have a better understanding of what they’ve been going through. This can help you empathize with your loved one, and validate your complex feelings. If they don’t have a diagnosis yet, you may have to wait for an expert opinion before you can learn more.

2. Get a sense of what happens in rehab. If you’re already informed, there are aspects of treatment your loved one won’t have to explain. This can make it easier for them to tell you about their experience.

Help Them Plan Travel Logistics

1. Travel with them, or help them find a sober companion. It can be dangerous to travel to rehab alone. If you can’t accompany them, talk to their rehab center about other options. A lot of programs will help them make travel plans, and even give them a ride from the airport.

2. Help them pack. You can use this packing list as a starting place.

3. Keep an eye out for unhealthy behaviors like self-harm or binging. Remember, you’re not entirely responsible for keeping them safe. If you have questions or concerns, you can always reach out to their treatment center or primary care physician to get help.

Offer Ground Support, Within Reason

While in rehab, their primary focus will be on recovery. So they’ll need help with things like childcare, paying bills, and other responsibilities. It’s not your job to keep everything afloat for them—even if you’re their partner. But if you want to be part of their support network, there are several ways to help. You can either take these tasks on yourself, or help your loved one find someone else to share the load.

1. Help them set up automatic payments for basic utilities, student loans, etc. so they don’t fall behind on their bills while they’re in treatment.

2. Find child or pet care in their area. Caring for someone else’s dependents is a big responsibility. And it doesn’t have to be your job. But, if you can, you might help them find another trustworthy caregiver. This can give them valuable peace of mind. And during rehab, they can stay focused on getting well.

3. Check in on their house, or help them find someone who can.

4. Clean their home before they return. You can also hire a cleaning service.

Take Care of Yourself While They’re in Treatment

Addiction takes a toll on loved ones and families. And it can be stressful to support your loved one through the early stages of recovery. While your focus may be entirely on their well-being, it’s equally important to take care of yourself.

1. See a 1:1 therapist, ideally someone that specializes in addiction. Or even better, find someone who specializes in working with loved ones of a person with addiction.

2. Set boundaries with your loved one. Remember that your needs matter, too. And when you care for yourself, you have more energy to support the people around you. Codependency can be an issue in relationships that involve addiction, so be aware of how it may affect you and your loved one.

3. Join a support group like Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, or Adult Children of Alcoholics.

4. Talk to the rehab about family or couples therapy. Bear in mind that this may not be appropriate until after your loved one settles into rehab. But once they’re ready, family therapy can help you have difficult conversations about their addiction. If your goal is to heal your relationship, this may be the best way to get started.

Your Role in Your Loved One’s Recovery

When someone decides to go to rehab, it affects their loved ones, too.. And you can play an important part in their recovery journey. But, you can only do that when you’re taking care of yourself. It can feel like you’re responsible for their well-being before, during, and after their treatment. But in fact, setting reasonable expectations will make your relationship more sustainable. And—just as importantly—it will support your healing process.

To learn more about your loved one’s options for treatment, visit our searchable directory of inpatient rehabs to see information about pricing, locations, specializations, and more.

Reviewed by Rajnandini Rathod

  1. Chapter 4—Assessment. (1997). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64828/ []

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