What to Expect When a Loved One Comes Home from Treatment

“A house must be built on solid foundations if it is to last. The same principle applies to man; otherwise, he too will sink back into the soft ground and becomes swallowed up by the world of illusion.” Sai Baba

Your loved one has made the first step. Whether by intervention, hitting a personal bottom, arrest or any of the many ways that addicts, and alcoholics get removed from active addiction, they got into treatment. They stayed. They completed. Now, they are coming home. What can you expect? What preparation can you do to help support their return to a life that works? Let’s get obvious out of the way.

Basics For When Your Loved One Comes Home From Treatment

  • Prepare the home- Remove any drugs or alcohol from home. Any prescriptions drugs should be stored where they have no access. A clean, fresh environment to return to will be helpful and symbolic of a clean start. The only medications they should be taking are those prescribed by their treatment center doctors.
  • Case Management- They no longer have the level of case management that they did in treatment. They may need some degree of this. The will need to get to local meetings to get connected to the recovery community. They will need to get to medical and court appointments. Job hunting and job interviews will need to be taken care of. They may need help with transportation or not be trusted with their transportation yet. Any help increases their odds of staying sober.

What to Expect When Your Loved One Returns Home

It’s difficult to predict what to expect from someone exiting treatment before they arrive at home. People are different, and both attitudes and moods can fluctuate. Wait a few days and observe. The signs will show you what to expect from them. Are they in an attitude of humility or expectation and entitlement? How seriously are they taking the situation they’re in? What kind of willingness are they exhibiting? We will all make mistakes, and some backsliding is to be expected. The best thing to observe is the general direction that they are headed in. Every decision is one step closer to that first drink or drug or closer to a new recovery-based life.

Rather than look for what to expect, be mindful as to what to accept. Some things should be accepted while others are to be recognized as unacceptable. This will lead to accurately deciphering how to help them. Without the common well-intentioned practice of enabling which usually makes things worse. There’s a difference between helping and hurting.

Acceptable Behaviors and Actions

  • New people in recovery even when trying are emotionally unstable at times. The process of change doesn’t happen overnight. Arguments and disagreements are common. What is more of an indicator of someone changing is the reflection and circumstances after the outburst. How extreme is their behavior during the dispute? What is their willingness for resolution afterward?
  • The may be lost or stuck in parts of their journey. This is common. The loved one who wants to change will at sometimes not know how. Their open-mindedness to new ways says a lot more than their knowing what to do. It’s a whole lifestyle change, and it does take time. As scary as it is for you, it’s just as frightening for them

Unacceptable Behaviors and Actions

  • Entitlement is a bad sign. It shows a blindness to the personal responsibility required to build a new life. Not giving in to unreasonable demands is coping skill that helps both parties in the long run yet will not feel as comfortable. Trust has been broken, and it’s a process to rebuild.
  • Rigidity leaves little room for growth. The former lifestyle did not work, being rigid doesn’t allow for growth and something new. The old ways most often produce the past results. Using absolutes are a sign of this. Language such as I won’t, and I can’t, always, never. The extreme thinking is a mindset many addicts and alcoholics must work through.
  • Lack of willingness. Recovery is work. The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. Every new person in recovery must be willing to be a participant in their recovery and their life. If they’re willing to try, there is hope.

How can you Help and how can you Heal too?

Nothing can be predicted when a person exits substance abuse treatment. Thirty clients exiting the same day from the same facility may have thirty different responses to coming home. As a loved one it’s best to prepare ourselves to assist them in their journey. We can do this by removing some obstacles, while simultaneously leaving them space and freedom to walk their path. The paradox is how to help without getting stepped on, used, or robbing them of their experiences.

It’s a hard path to walk for the person in recovery and you. There are many resources for both you and your loved one. Here are some websites that can show you meetings for many fellowships for you and your loved one.
For you:
Al-Anon
Nar-Anon
For your loved one:
Alcoholics Anonymous
Narcotics Anonymous