Renaissance Ranch

What Not to Do When a Loved One Comes Home from Rehab

Sep 1, 2015

Helping a loved one just coming out of rehab can be daunting. What exactly do you say and do? And how do you act? It is important to know a few key starting tips on knowing how to act around your loved one so you can offer the constant support that he or she needs during this fragile time. Here are 4 tips to help you know what not to do with a loved one just coming home from rehab.

Don’t Pressure Them

The first couple of months after rehab will be the hardest. Pressuring your loved one to do things that they are not quite comfortable doing, too fast and too soon, is not conducive to helping them recover. Give your loved one time and be patient. This is one of the best ways that you can show that you care.

Don’t Shy Away from Clear Communication

Being honest with your loved one is crucial to helping them to become drug and alcohol free. Admitting to not knowing exactly what they are going through or feeling is better than not saying anything at all. Tell them that you are there to support them and that you want to help. This will remind them that you are trying to help them recover.

Don’t Be Judgmental

The recovery process is different for everyone. Some people make progress quickly, while others take longer to adjust back to their lives pre-addiction. Do not judge your loved one if they relapse. This can be detrimental to them and hinder their overall progression. Instead, encourage them. Show them the positives that you can see in them, regardless of whether they are progressing or not, and remind them of the improvements that they are making. Constant reassurance that they are improving goes a long way with a recovering addict.

Don’t Withhold Love and Unconditional Support

Life after rehab can be a very lonely one for many people. The support that was easily available during rehab is no longer as accessible. This is a crucial point where you will need to show your loved one unconditional love and support. Remind them that you are there. Take up hobbies together, exercise together, and spend quality time with your loved one. These are all small things that will remind them that they are not alone on this recovery journey.

Avoid Triggers

Avoid doing or saying things that may remind the addict that he or she is in recovery. For example, don’t drink or discuss drinking while in the addict’s presence, even if the addict says it is okay. You may also want to quit the behavior in question, at least for a while, in order to offer solidarity.

Help Keep a Schedule

Many recovering addicts have prescriptions to take and support meetings to attend. Stay involved by ensuring that your loved one is sticking to the schedule set by his or her outpatient clinic.

Express Love

Frequently tell the recovering addict that you love and are proud of him or her. You may think this is obvious from your behavior, but it can be very encouraging to hear it spoken aloud.


Be available if your loved one wants to talk. Don’t feel obligated to solve all of his or her problems, but do listen actively and offer help if it seems like it is welcome. Often, it helps the patient to be able to discuss things that are bothering him or her in a supportive environment.

Help Manage Stress

Stress can often trigger a relapse into addictive behaviors. While it’s impossible to avoid stress entirely, you can work on managing it in more productive ways. You may want to try several different approaches to find out what strategy works well for your loved one.

Lee Williams, LCSW, SUDC is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Substance Use Disorder Counselor. He graduated from the University of Utah with a Master’s Degree in Social Work and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with Certification in Criminology and Corrections. He is currently working on a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. His professional experience in the field of addiction has been centered on mental health and forensic social work. Lee has actively worked in a 12-step approach to the treatment of substance use disorder for over a decade. In addition to his love for working in the field of addiction, Lee’s greatest joys are in his experiences as a husband and father.

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