Caring For Loved Ones While You’re In Rehab

family during treatment - how to care for them
Last Edited: February 13, 2020

Matt Esaena

Clinically Reviewed
Andrew Lancaster, LPC, MAC

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and certified by an addiction professional.

One thing that worries many people if they require addiction treatment, is what will happen to their family. Going into rehab means that you may leave their family during treatment for an extended period of time. Furthermore, they cannot always keep in touch while they are in treatment either. However, while these are large obstacles, they should not stop you from seeking treatment, particularly since solutions are available. Finding out what those solutions are can be the final push you need to actually get help. Always remember that when you get help, you are creating a better life for your family as well.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is the understanding of the necessity for treatment.  Mind altering substances can cause immense harm to your loved ones.  Whether they are prescription drugs like Fioricet, or designer drugs like K2 Spice, the escalating severity of addiction to any substance can cause permanent damage to you and your loved ones.

You Need to Plan

What you need to do is plan properly. Going to rehab is asking for help; don’t be afraid to also ask for help in terms of looking after your family during treatment. There are many people out there who care about you, and they will be more than happy to make sure your family is looked after while you are away as well.

Of course, if you are a parent, particularly a single parent, leaving your children behind may be too much for you. It can be very difficult to find someone who is not only willing and able to look after your children, but whom you trust to do so. This is especially true if you live in an addictive environment, which means many of your peers will be users themselves. But there are solutions out there for you.

Look for People Who Can Take Care of Your Children

If at all possible, you should find someone who can look after your children with whom they already know and feel safe and comfortable with. This could be your spouse or significant other, your parents, your brothers or sisters, your close friends or your extended family. These people may have other commitments already, such as going to school or work, but you may be able to find childcare arrangements during the day. There are even rehab facilities that offer childcare services themselves, and all of them will be able to put you in touch with local resources for childcare.

There are some facilities, although they are few and far between, that allow children to stay in the facility with their parent during treatment. Stringent conditions are attached to this, however. The benefit is that your children can also receive treatment while they are there. The reality is that your children may have been significantly traumatized by your addiction, and they are likely to require counseling themselves.

What to Expect During Rehab

It is challenging to complete rehab as many people also have a fear of the unknown. It is likely that you have many conflicting emotions about this. Did you know, for instance, that your loved ones are likely to go through the five stages of grief when you enter a rehab facility?

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Your loved ones, regardless of who they are, are likely to go through all of these stages. Those closest to you – spouse, children, parents – are likely to feel them the most as well. So what do they mean?

Denial – This is the stage where your loved ones struggle to accept that you have an addiction. Parents don’t want to hear their children have an addiction, as they may feel that they have failed them. Spouses don’t want to hear that their other half is addicted either, worrying that they have loved someone they never truly knew for all those years. Usually, while your family is in denial, you won’t seek treatment either. As someone suffering from an addiction, you are likely to be in denial yourself, after all. What denial does is stop people from taking any kind of action.

Anger – This is when your loved ones start to understand that you have an addiction, and they get angry with you because you hid it from them, because you haven’t changed it, and because of the difficulties you have put them through. Anger is easy to understand and easy to feel. It is also far easier to get angry with people, than to find a solution to help them. It is very unlikely that you, as an addicted person, will seek treatment during the anger stage. People don’t want to get help when they are under attack, they become defensive, after all. Plus, you may still be in denial.

Bargaining – This is a difficult stage, and one where people feel tremendously overwhelmed. This is the point where most families stage an intervention, asking you to go to treatment. They may have already tried asking you to seek help several times at this point in time.

Depression – you are likely to be in treatment at this point, and this gives your loved ones the opportunity to really start to rethink the past few years and what has happened. They may feel overwhelmed because you are away, and they don’t know what is happening. They are learning about addiction and coming to terms with how hard everything has been both for you and for them.

Acceptance – this is where everything comes together and your family can become truly supportive of you and rebuild the important familial bonds.

So now that you know what to expect from your loved ones, you may need to know what to expect for yourself. Simply put: you will experience fear, insecurity and an overwhelming flood of emotions. But you have to get through that to heal yourself.

Knowledge, as they say, is power, and you are now empowered to prepare both yourself and your loved ones about what is to come. This, in turn, means that you will all reach the final stage of acceptance much sooner. Acceptance is a powerful tool, because it enables everybody to admit that there is a problem, and that help is available to resolve the problem. Acceptance doesn’t actually mean that the problem is resolved, but rather that you all have the support you need to get through it and come out stronger in the end.

You’re Safe in Rehab

A final thing to expect during rehab is that you will be 100% safe. Your therapists will regularly be in touch with your loved ones and family during treatment to keep them up to date with how you are doing. The exception to this is if you instruct your therapist not to do so, as the details can remain fully confidential. However, in that case, your loved ones can still have the peace of mind that you are in a safe place, getting help to improve your life and theirs.

But You’ll Experience Various Emotions

It is difficult for loved ones to deal with having someone in treatment, and it is equally hard for you. For the first time in perhaps years, you will suddenly experience a range of emotions. You will have to resolve whatever issue underpinned your addiction, which could be a co-occurring disorder as well. You are going through a process of transformation and to get through that, you need encouragement, support, and, most of all, love.

You will go through some very big issues, which are often the reason why they reached out to drugs in the first place. Some of the issues you may have to work through with the family during treatment include:

  • Communication difficulties
  • Low self-esteem and self-worth
  • Lack of direction and purposes
  • Extreme isolation and loneliness
  • Spiritual emptiness

If you have a co-occurring disorder, you will have to work on this as well. This could be a mental health issue like anxiety or depression, it could be an eating disorder, a different addiction, a health problem, and more. Mental health disorders, however, are most common in addicted individuals (especially in cases of GHB and other Hallucinogenic abuse), and it is often not clear which one caused the other. Some of the most commonly seen mental health problems are:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Depression disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Schizophrenia

These conditions must be correctly diagnosed and treated, often including medication. This will be done with the help of trained, licensed, specialists, who have your recovery and well-being at their heart. You will be treated with respect and dignity at all times.

1.1 million people each year use hallucinogens for the first time.

Going to Rehab – Your Family During Treatment

Are your loved ones getting rid of you, or truly wanting you to heal? One of the things you’ll have to come to grips with is what your loved ones are feeling and doing right now. While you may be in rehab, your loved ones have a lot of things to deal with as well. They may have become codependent, which means they will struggle to be happy in your absence as well. You were hurt by your addiction, but you hurt others as well. Your relationship with them will have been strained, because of the mutual heartache, pain, worry, anxiety and stress.

This does not mean that your loved ones simply want to get rid of you, nor does it mean they have forgotten about you. In fact, they are healing, both for themselves and for you. This takes time, just as you have to take the time to recover in drug or alcohol rehab. This is also one of the reasons why many inpatient facilities make family therapy an integral part of their overall counseling.

Remember that you are supposed to be focused when you are undergoing treatment. This is your chance to put full effort into yourself as well as your family during treatment for addiction. You shouldn’t have to deal with domestic stresses right now, as you are too busy with many other stresses. By taking a step back, you can see how you hurt those who are actually supporting you. They aren’t ignoring you, they want to make sure that you get to the right place. Eventually, you will come to understand this, and perhaps even be thankful for it.

Meanwhile, remember that you are not being punished. You are being helped and treated. And, while you are being treated, so are your loved ones. Distance, as they say, makes the heart go fonder and this is certainly true, as both you and your family during treatment can begin to heal and become well again.

Over 1,200,000 people reported to have used crystal meth in the last year.

Can You Have a Cell Phone in Rehab?

Different rehab facilities have different policies in terms of contact with the outside world. It is quite common for cell phones to be prohibited in rehab facilities, except in executive facilities that are designed for busy working professionals. Some of the things that may or may not be allowed include:

Laptops. These are rarely allowed and when they are, only under supervision and at set times. Make sure you bring your charger with you.
Cell phones, wireless devices, and PDAs. These are not generally allowed during the first few weeks of training. Sometimes, if your treatment includes contingency management, you may need to “earn” your electronic devices.

Electronic devices for music or books. These are often allowed, although restrictions will be placed on them in terms of where and when you can use them.

Nearly 23 Million people are in need of treatment for chemical dependency.

What to Bring to Addiction Treatment?

Every rehab facility has its own policies and procedures in terms of what you can and can’t bring, you must contact them to find out exactly what to pack. However, as a rule of thumb you will need:

  • The contact details of anyone that is involved in the treatment, such as your loved ones and medical professionals.
  • Jewelry that you consider to be a necessity, such as your wedding ring. You should leave as many valuable items as possible at home, however.
  • A non-radio alarm clock. Check on this, as it may be provided.
  • Any prescription medication, sealed, with the relevant prescription label left in place. Liquid medication should be sealed and new. Bring a list of your different medications, when you take them, and at what dosage.
  • Some money so you can buy books and go to the vending machine
  • A method of payment for prescriptions
  • A form of identification
  • Your insurance details
  • A calling card if required
  • A journal or notebook
  • Envelopes and stamps if you want to write letters
  • Pictures of people you care about

Books, particularly if they are not provided by the facility itself. Do bring your Bible or other spiritual books if you are religious.