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How to help your child when they get out of drug treatment

Ben Brafman, LMC, CAP CEO/Founder and Clinical Director The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center, Destination Hope: The Women’s Program

Welcoming a child home from alcohol or drug rehab can be a bittersweet and emotional experience. You may not know where to begin or how to provide support. Your role as a parent may feel confusing - this wasn’t in the parenting manual, after all. Although it may feel like life after rehab is a process of trial and error, you can learn to rebuild your family unit and support your child through their recovery.


Do

Do know their aftercare schedule

Addiction treatment didn’t end when your child graduated from rehab. It’s ongoing, and will be a part of your lives from now on. Be aware of when your child has therapy sessions or group meetings, and do what you can to ensure that your child keeps these appointments. You can drive your child to these appointments; you may even be involved in family therapy and attend together. Maintaining aftercare keeps their recovery strong.

Do understand that recovery is a process, not a destination

The reason your child’s aftercare is so important is because they will be in recovery for the rest of their lives. This might sound overwhelming, but it means that they - and you - should be an active part of that recovery. Talk about relapse prevention plans - what will he or she do if they are offered substances in the future? - and adjust them as necessary. Always encourage open communication and be willing to seek professional help for yourself in order to help your child.

Do keep your home drug and alcohol free

Part of providing support for your child after rehab means ridding your house of substances. Rather than locking alcohol in a cabinet, remove it completely to avoid temptation. If there are necessary prescription medications at home, monitor them and keep them in a safe place. You may need to change some of your own habits to help your child stay in recovery. Make your home a safe environment for your child’s recovery - don’t make it a place for easy relapse.

Do provide structure

Come up with a set of house rules and discuss them with your child as a family. Set a curfew and stick to it. It can be very hard to establish boundaries in the home or within the family after drug addiction, but work together to create guidelines. Ask your child what he or she expects of you as well and be willing to provide it.

Do attend support group meetings

Addiction doesn’t just affect the person with an addiction; it affects the whole family. As a parent, you have been through a difficult situation. Individual or group therapy can help you cope with your child’s drug use and provide you with more strategies for helping them through recovery. Support group meetings let you spend time with others who have walked in your shoes, and you can learn from each other.


Don't

Do not waste time on guilt

Parents often feel that they should have done something to prevent their child’s drug addiction. Whether or not that is true, it does you no good to dwell on it. Learn from the past and look forward to the future. How can you help them now? How can you best provide support? Think about what you can do, not what you feel you should have done.

Do not live in a cycle of blame

Don’t use past mistakes to reprimand or punish your child. In order to move forward, you must both accept the past and work together moving forward. The cycle of blame can easily evolve into arguments and lead to anger.

Do not be an enabler

Enabling is something you may be doing without even realizing it. If you take over your child’s responsibilities, like walking the dog, doing their chores, or paying their bills, you may be reinforcing their behavior. Your child needs to take over their duties and take responsibility for the consequences of their actions, or lack thereof.

Do not lose hope

Setbacks after rehab are normal. Even relapse can be normal, though it doesn’t have to happen. You and your family may find it tough to function as a unit after your child returns from rehab, but don’t lose hope. Treatment is effective, and recovery is possible. It takes time to establish new, healthy habits. Patience and persistence can see you through.

Do not handle them with kid gloves

It may be tempting to coddle your child when they return from rehab and allow them extra freedom. To avoid confrontation, some parents agree with everything their child says and place innate trust in them. You still need to establish rules and boundaries, and it’s okay to check up on them to make sure that they’re doing what they say they are.


Summary
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When your child comes back home from rehab, make sure they know that you love them and are there to support them. Establish boundaries and open communication, but don’t get wrapped up in guilt and blame. Be aware of their treatment schedule so you can help them maintain it, and continue with therapy yourself. It will take time, but recovery is possible.


More expert advice about Drug Addiction

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Ben Brafman, LMC, CAPCEO/Founder and Clinical Director

Ben Brafman, LMHC, CAP, is the Clinical Director, President and CEO of Destination Hope, a nationally recognized substance abuse and dual diagnosis treatment facility in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. With more than two decades of hands-on experience...

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