Helping Your Loved One After Rehab: 6 Steps to Preparing Your Home

woman and child welcomes home her husband from rehab

Table of Contents

Step 1: Clean House

You may think it is strange, but the first thing you should do is clean your house.

When you have a loved one coming home after rehab, there may be some changes that need to be made to the home to make it a comfortable and safe living environment.

You first want to make sure to go through your home as much as possible to eliminate any items such as drugs or paraphernalia.

You may not think that you’ll find anything, but you’d be surprised what some find in their home.

If your loved one was addicted to heroin, you might find syringes under the couch, in the air vents, behind furniture, hidden in the garage, stashed in the backyard – you name it, it could have been a hiding place for drugs, alcohol, and drug-related items.

Your loved one’s hiding spaces might be especially creative, so it’s best to consider that while going through the house. To make it not such a burdensome task, ask someone else to help you. Not only will having an extra person help make the job easier, but this person can serve as a second pair of eyes and might find items you miss.

Doing a thorough cleaning of your house could directly impact the difference between a 3-minute craving and a relapse. Removing those temptations before they return could be the best thing for them and your family.

Not only is it dangerous to have drug-related items hidden randomly in the house, but removing that temptation could save a life from an overdose.

Ultimately this step is all about decreasing triggers whenever possible.

If your loved one does continue to reside with you and your family, consider assessing and decreasing triggers that could cause a relapse.

Talking to your addicted loved one about their triggers could ensure a happy, healthy home environment.

Triggers vary from person to person, but some common triggers are:

  • Easy access to alcohol and pills.
  • Friendly visits from people with which they used to drink or get high.
  • Things they used to do drugs ( straws, syringes, pill cutters, grinders, pipes ).

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Step 2: Encourage a Routine

In rehab, a daily routine is important for a successful recovery. Without a daily routine, many people can get stuck in their heads, thinking about the past and their drug use history.

In early recovery, individuals tend to fall into negative thought patterns. On top of this, their feelings are extremely raw and sensitive.

Getting through the day and dealing with daily stressors is enough for most.

Those negative thought patterns and intense feelings could push them right into a relapse. Having a set daily routine can promote a healthy lifestyle in recovery.

Healthy routines after treatment can entail making the bed, cleaning, maintaining a job, fellowship meetings, gym time, school, or household responsibilities.

Staying mentally and physically busy can mean the difference between a fulfilling life in recovery and relapse.

Help your addicted loved one stay treatment-focused by encouraging them to keep busy. If you find them drifting off from their routine, encourage them to get back on track.

Step 3: Lock Up Prescription Medications

Many people are on the fence about whether they should lock up their prescription pills when their loved one returns from rehab.

Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but locking up any narcotic medication is the best and safest decision. Early recovery is a journey; there will be ups and downs and trials and temptations on any journey.

Your loved one has to want to stay sober, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take some steps to help protect them in early recovery.

Removing their access to painkillers, anti-depressants, or even alcohol will decrease the potential for relapse.

In the future, as you begin to trust their mindset in recovery, you may be comfortable enough to stop locking up your prescription pills.

Step 4: Practice Open Communication

Active addiction is all about isolation and deception, so practicing open communication and inclusion should be at the top priority list.

Active addiction also promotes a lot of feelings of resentment and anger, that comes through in aggressive or passive-aggressive communication styles between yourself and your loved one.

When your loved one comes home from rehab, this type of ineffective communication must be replaced with effective, healthy, and assertive communication.

As time goes on, build trust with your loved one by asking them about their recovery and their fears.

You must talk to your loved one about potential triggers, their struggles, life goals, and healthy boundaries,

Additionally, find out if they fear relapse and where they will turn to for continued care or co-occurring disorder problems.

Please encourage them to participate in volunteer work, religious or spiritual events, hobbies, and sober community functions and meetings.

It’s best to avoid a situation where they are bored and restless in their room. Practicing open communication with your addicted loved one will not only mend the relationship but also rebuild trust in each other.

Step 5: Set Healthy Boundaries

If you’ve been doing any research into loving someone in active addiction, I’m sure you have heard how important it is to establish healthy boundaries.

A big part of living a life of recovery is being accountable for your actions and being proud of the time and effort you’ve put into maintaining your sobriety.

Sometimes healthy boundaries look like strict rules with consequences, and other times, they are simple requests and expectations.

Many family members no longer trust their loved ones because of the drug-seeking behaviors associated with active addiction.

Many loved ones ask if they do not house their loved one, will they relapse? That is a difficult question, but like all difficult questions, there are complex answers.

The stress of not having a safe place to live can indeed cause a relapse, and is not ideal. A safe living arrangement should be made before they walk out of the doors of rehab.

In rehab, your loved one is encouraged to consider a sober living home, and we highly encourage you to do the same for your loved one.

Rehab teaches your loved ones how to properly cope with the stress that they might experience once they leave treatment.

Sober living establishments provide your loved one with a strict routine similar to the one in rehab, surrounded by people in recovery, drug, and substance-free environment, and more often than not, sober livings have in-house fellowship meetings.

Just because you do not house your loved one doesn’t mean your loved one with turn back to active addiction. That healthy boundary of living apart could be the best thing for your relationship on the mend.

If you do decide to not allow your loved one to return home, support them in finding and getting into a sober living environment.

Step 6: Search for Local Fellowship Groups & Meetings

In rehab, your loved one was introduced to fellowship support groups and the value of attending a meeting.

Exploring your area for local AA, CMA, HA, or NA support groups could demonstrate to your addicted loved one that you are here to support them and know what they need in early recovery.

Know that your loved one should be held accountable and encouraged to participate in some recovery support group.

However, keep in mind that each person’s recovery will look different, and not all people decide to get help through the 12 steps.

If your loved one decides to give the 12 step programs a chance, finding the right sponsor and working their steps should be a priority.

No matter what they choose, you can encourage them to get involved in the sober community in your area the moment they return.

You will inevitably be able to tell if your loved one is not making a true effort to connect with others in recovery.

How Do I Get Myself Ready?

It’s important to realize that when a loved one is returning home after rehab, it affects more than just them as an individual; your entire family will be affected by their return.

It would be best if you prepared everyone before the day arrived and did so properly.

Talk to your children about the person coming back into the home. We’ve created a guide on talking to your children about these issues that you might find helpful.

Depending on their age, there are different methods to doing so. If you feel comfortable, explain that they have had treatment for their addiction but that everyone still needs to understand that they may not be the person they were before addiction took hold of their life for quite a while.

For children of older age or perhaps pre-teens or teens, a basic understanding of the disease of addiction is essential.

You need to get help for any anger, irritation, or fear about the situation. There are many times where addiction can make your loved one an absolute monster while they’re on the drugs.

The memories of how the person treated you, or things they did may cause you to harbor resentment deep inside. All of these feelings can be catastrophic if they come out. The guilt and hurt can lead your loved one to be tempted to use.

You may need to talk to a counselor or a psychiatrist before your loved one returns home to learn how to cope with the feelings you have and learn to express them in healthy ways.

Many of those who struggle with addiction end up going to counseling with their family to address the emotional scars they caused during their addiction.

Getting help from a mental health professional may be a viable option for you to consider in the future to help you and your loved one rebuild the trust and love that you once had.

How Do I Communicate With My Loved One?

Don’t be afraid to talk to your loved one openly and honestly. Many families make the mistake of thinking that everything will be perfect when their loved one returns after rehab, but that isn’t always the case.

Your loved one has to account for all the wrongdoings they did while on drugs. Taking responsibility could mean repaying debts, dealing with criminal charges, or simply addressing the negative things they did to people they love.

Most people don’t know how to help an addict after rehab, but most addicts need help taking the necessary steps to rebuild their lives and talk about their needs if someone is willing to ask.

Talk to your loved ones before they come home to find out what you can do to help them get their life back on track.

Many people need to know where the local support groups are to go to them as soon as possible and aren’t tempted to return to their old ways.

They may need you to help them find a lawyer to deal with their criminal issues. Being willing to help them in any way that you can show them that you support their recovery and that they have someone they can depend on when they get home.

It can be hard to know what to expect after rehab, but talking to your loved one about their needs can make the transition easier.

You want to be sure they have the tools necessary to support their recovery because the better chances they have of a strong recovery, the better chances you have for a normal life with everyone you love in it.

If you have never been addicted to drugs or alcohol before, it can be hard to know what is needed to recover.

Talking to your loved ones about their recovery openly and honestly ensures that both of you can be on the same page, and you can help support their sobriety as much as you possibly can.


[1] Talking to Children about Addiction and Recovery

Susana Spiegel

Susana Spiegel

Susana has experience writing about addiction, treatment, mental health, and recovery. She holds a Bachelors in Arts of Theology from GCU, and has a deep empathy for those who are struggling with addiction, as she is in recovery herself.

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