How to Prepare When a Loved One Returns Home from Rehab

Cheerful woman embracing husband while standing at home.
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Returning home after rehab or sober living is a big milestone for the individual and the family. After months of working on recovery, you are now ready to welcome your loved one home. But as you know, things don’t automatically return to ‘normal.’ Your loved one will continue working on their recovery, and you will continue supporting them. Part of this involves creating a healthy and safe space that is conducive to sober living.

Below are some of the best suggestions we give to families when their loved ones return home from drug or alcohol rehab.

Educate Yourself on Addiction and Recovery

One of the best things you can do is educate yourself on addiction and recovery so that you can develop realistic expectations. You can’t help someone if you don’t know anything about the recovery process. Some key points to be aware of are:

  • Addiction is a disease of the mind, body and spirit. It is not a choice or a moral failing. People make the initial choice to experiment with drugs or alcohol, but they do not choose to become addicted.
  • Recovery is a continuous process – a lifelong journey. This means that your loved one will have to continue making healthy choices and not get complacent. But people can and do recover.
  • Relapse is common in about 40 to 60 percent of cases. It does not mean failure. It means that more work is needed. Some people return to rehab while others increase attendance at their AA or NA meetings.

Prepare Your Home

Take some time to get the house ready for your loved one. Remove any drugs or alcohol so there is no temptation for your loved one. If there are mood-altering prescription medications in your home, keep them locked up.

It’s also a good idea to go through your loved one’s room to make sure they didn’t leave anything behind. The goal is to make sure your home environment is safe and free from drugs and alcohol. Even inhalants pose a risk, so be sure to keep these in a safe space as well.

Establish Ground Rules

If your loved one resided in a sober living house, they should be used to following rules. But make sure that your specific rules are well-known and understood. Everyone should know what is expected from them, as maintaining a supportive home is a group effort. You can even post the rules and have everyone sign off on them.

Some expectations you’ll want to enforce include:

  • What time do you expect everyone to be home? What are the consequences for not calling or staying out late?
  • Who will be responsible for which chores each week? Everyone should be contributing to household chores. It shouldn’t be all on you.
  • If you share vehicles at your house, establish rules for using them. It’s probably not a good idea to give your loved one free reign just yet.

Establish a Healthy Routine

Work with your loved one to establish a healthy routine. Again, if they were in a sober house, they are probably used to following some type of schedule that includes therapy, support groups, exercise, meditation and so forth.

Encourage your loved one to follow their aftercare plan, which will include recommendations for peer support and individual therapy. Your loved one will face new triggers and temptations, so it’s important they have built-in support. They may even choose to partake in an outpatient program during this transitional period.

Make Time for Family Bonding

Individuals with a strong family support system have better outcomes in their recoveries than those who do not. Since you need to heal as a family unit (addiction affects everyone, after all), it’s important to spend valuable time as a family.

Make a commitment to eat your meals together, enjoy outdoor time together (walking, hiking, biking) and maintain open communication. This can be difficult if you were a family that lived separate lives before the addiction, but trust us when we say everyone will benefit from having close family connections!

Reach Out for Help When You Need It

Make sure that you are also getting help during this time. Welcoming a loved one home after rehab or sober living can be stressful. There are many what-ifs, and it’s easy to fall back into old habits if you’re not careful. Be sure to align yourself with the right support, which may include individual therapy, support groups and self-care.

Pura Vida Recovery Offers Help for Families

Pura Vida Recovery offers valuable support for individuals and families dealing with substance use. We provide family support, life skills training, transportation to and from therapy, appointments, court hearings, etc. and more. Our mission is to help families rebuild their lives following addiction. We also offer drug and alcohol rehabilitation services in Santa Rosa. Contact our admissions department to learn more.