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Post-Rehab: 11 Things to Avoid When a Loved One Comes Home

The early stages of recovery can be both exciting and overwhelming for a newly sober person. While they may be free from drugs and alcohol for the first time in years, they’re also trading a highly structured rehab setting for a world where they must once again be responsible for their choices.

When you look at it that way, it’s no surprise to learn that most relapses take place only weeks after leaving rehab.

Helping Your Loved One Adjust

Before your loved one leaves rehab, he will sit down with counselors and develop a detailed aftercare plan. This will make his transition back into the “real” world much easier.

And he’s not the only one who can benefit from having a plan in place. As a family, there are several things that you can do to help make this recovery process smooth and successful. Without some kind of game plan, family members can quickly feel like they’re walking on egg shells 24/7.

While it’s certainly helpful to establish a “to-do” list, it’s equally important for the family to understand that certain actions or conversations would be harmful to a loved one’s new sobriety.

Let’s take a look at 11 things family members should avoid doing once a loved one returns home from drug rehab.


  • Put Pressure on Him. The first three months of recovery are always the most difficult. Avoid pushing your loved one to do too much too soon. Give him ample time each day to do what’s necessary to solidify and benefit his recovery.
  • Take Everything Personally. In the early stages of their recovery, the family unit may not be top priority. Meetings and counseling sessions might take precedence over movie night and that’s actually a good sign. He’s primarily focused on getting well, which will ultimately strengthen the family relationship.
  • Be Afraid To Communicate. Honesty is essential, even if it’s negative. Telling him “I don’t know what to do” or “I don’t understand” is actually better than saying nothing at all. Give it time; things will get better and the conversations will come.
  • Prevent Him From Making (and Learning from) Mistakes. When someone in recovery has a “bottom” moment, they ultimately gain enormous strength in overcoming it. Continuing to come in and save him before this can happen ultimately does nothing but enable him and creates an expectation that someone will always take care of his problems.
  • Be Afraid of Sparking a Relapse. Despite the myths, nothing you do or say you can cause him to relapse; you simply don’t have that much power. If your loved one relapses, it’s not your fault. You didn’t force him to do anything. Be honest about your feelings, without the fear of the consequences.
  • Assume Anything. Some people want their loved ones actively involved in their recovery, while others would prefer to handle the process more privately. Once home, sit down with him and ask what he needs from you. This is the only way you can make the expectations clear.
  • Avoid Making Your Own Recovery Plan. This is especially important if your addicted loved one is a teenager or still living at home. Make sure the plan has doable, realistic goals and consequences if he fails to meet those goals.
  • Bring up the Past. It’s a given that your loved one hurt you with his drug use. But since he’s completed a rehab program and is taking the right steps to move forward, you should be doing the same. Staying bogged down in the past is a surefire way to remain stagnant in misery.
  • Be Judgmental. There isn’t a cookie-cutter expectation for how the recovery process will unfold. It’s an easy process for some and a very emotional one for others. Show him understanding in difficult moments and point out the positive differences that you notice. A little encouragement goes a long way.
  • Blame Yourself. Someone else’s addiction is never your fault. If your loved one believes you are responsible for his worst moments, it will only hinder his recovery process. Don’t let him fall into the trap of pointing fingers, otherwise moving forward will be unlikely.
  • Hide or Withhold Your Love. Because getting sober often means losing some of the “friends” he used to party with, your loved one may feel alone at times. Let him know you love and care about him by taking an active role in his life. Think about taking up a hobby or an exercise class together. The experience will benefit both of you.


Additional Reading: Cleaning Up: A Guide for Your First 90 Days Home

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, call American Addiction Centers today at for guidance on receiving the treatment you deserve. We are on the line 24/7. Don’t wait.

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