5 Mistakes Family Members Make When Their Loved One Comes Home from Addiction Treatment

together we create written on a wall to symbolize a family working together after substance abuse treatment

When Your Family Member Comes Home From Treatment

You’ve been waiting, and perhaps even praying, for this for a long time. Your family member finally agreed to get treatment and has successfully completed inpatient treatment for substance abuse. It’s both a celebratory – and anxiety producing – time. Below find 5 things that families should NOT do when their loved one comes home.  

a picture of a heart made out of fireworks to support the idea that we are happy about our family member coming home from substance abuse treatment

 What NOT To Do

  1. (don’t) Withdrawal love and affection. It’s common and understandable that your recent past may have been challenging. You may be angry, scared, and hesitant. Remember, addiction is a disease. Withholding love and nurture and care of the relationship won’t further healing for either of you. In fact, persons in recovery from disease need positive interaction and relationships to have the best outcome.
  2. (don’t) Blame yourself. You did not cause your family member’s addiction. Addiction is a disease developed due to a complicated interaction of many factors; it is not a personal reaction to people or situations. Blaming yourself will lead to a response to the homecoming that confuses the family member in recovery and will distract their energy from focusing on tasks of early recovery.
  3. (don’t) Micromanage or control your family member’s recovery. Your family member needs to begin the habits of behavior and thinking that support recovery. A person in early recovery needs to build the life that continues to heal the part of the brain damaged by addiction to psychoactive substances. The person with the disease needs to be the one to initiate and execute these actions; this is the way it has the most positive impact. Family members who overly involve themselves in the process complicate the process and blur boundaries, making healthy relationships elusive.
  4. (don’t) Assume you know best. Recovery needs to be specific to the person in recovery. While treatment and mutual support settings such as 12-Step or Alternative Peer Groups have some suggestions many have found helpful, each person’s path to a contented sobriety needs to be crafted by their age, season of life, interests, goals, and abilities. Let your family member discover and develop their unique recovery path. It will set the stage for the possibility of a more authentic recovery and a better relationship with you.
  5. (don’t) Bring up the past. It’s likely that there are events and issues from the past that still hurt. It’s possible there are continuing consequences with money, legal, employment, other family members or friends. These things will all need to be addressed, of course. I’m not suggesting that your family member gets a complete pass or impunity, but that they do have a safe zone in which to operate free from non-productive reminders of the behaviors associated with when they were actively involved with substance abuse.

Look at the family member’s return home as a new opportunity for everyone to make and sustain positive change. And while this post was about what NOT to do, I want to encourage you to get your own help and support. I have a helpful resource that explains the need for family and close friends to have their own recovery. Contact me for my PDF on “Why Do I Need Help if They are the One With the with a Substance Use Disorder?”  

24618 Kingsland Blvd 2nd Floor, Room 8
Katy, TX 77494
On the left hand side of the CLS building

(281) 740-7563

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