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He’s In Treatment – It’s Time to Readjust Your Hopes & Expectations

woman head in hands despair

Allies in Recovery member 920Sunshine!!! has a Loved One who has just entered inpatient treatment. See the comment below. Dominique Simon-Levine addresses 920Sunshine!!!’s current expectations and reminds us all what to expect from a Loved One at the beginning of the treatment path.

I’m new to this site, so please forgive my lack of understanding.

My loved one is in rehab and is first to say he has a medical disorder – but I have yet to hear I am sorry for the emotional pain, the stealing, and the on-going lying. He has no accountability!

When he tells me he is “in jail” (rehab) because he’ll lose all contact with his kids and that’s the only reason he is there. I feel overwhelmed. I don’t feel that he is there to rehab for himself. I just don’t trust that this will work.

My sibling drives for a medi-taxi that often takes the clients to doctor appointments off campus and her clients tell her this place everyone just talks about getting high and the first thing they will do when they leave. This makes me quite nervous.

He has been in this facility for about 10 days – hoping for the best. He was able to call me about 3 days after he was in, and told me the treatment was 3-6 weeks depending on his case manager. He lives upstairs from me and I know that 3 weeks is not long enough, also in 2 weeks I’m leaving the country for about 2 weeks and feel that if he comes home and nobody is there he will be in the very same situation. Not that I controlled anything while he was using.

How would I keep him out of the house (my house) where he lives upstairs when I’m out of the country??? any suggestions???

He’s an expert at lying. I believed everything he ever told me. I did not know not to.

I went through his ‘stuff’ upstairs, removed all drug paraphernalia, tossed all the bullets – didn’t find a gun – but I’m almost positive that he has one in the many locked safes upstairs.”

By going to treatment, your Loved One is at the beginning of a process. It’s a process than can take time and builds in increments. It is way too early to expect from him the kind of deeper reflection, honesty, and communication skills that would lead to recognition, admission, and apologies for his past behavior. You can expect these things, but not yet. For now, he has gone into treatment. Good enough. It’s a huge step. Dig in and find the patience for the attitude change that will come.

The fear of losing your kids is one way to leverage someone into treatment. I would say that the majority of people entering treatment have mixed feelings about going to treatment. Willingness for most is clearly under 100%. There are studies that show that people mandated to treatment (losing your kids feels like a mandate to me) do as well in treatment as those who enter treatment more voluntarily.

So for now, put down the expectation that your Loved One will recognize how hurtful his past behavior has been. Be prepared for the treatment to be as successful as anyone else entering treatment. Since neither of us can predict the outcome of treatment, I suggest that you try to stay hopeful. It will change your day today for the better. Recognize the fear you are feeling. Neither the hope nor the fear will change much in terms of your Loved One’s outcomes, so why not choose to swing harder towards hope.

Your Loved One can walk into that treatment center and decide he is going to listen to what is said and participate wherever possible. There may be people getting high in the parking lot, and he can decide to ignore it because he wants his children in his life, and is willing to strike out in a new way TODAY, even if he’s not 100% convinced.

Learning Module 7 provides a list of ways we pull ourselves down through distortions in our thinking. Becoming informed by going through the modules and exercises, and looking at how our thinking can be dragging us down as well, will help you get on better footing when thinking about your Loved One.

Length of treatment should be long, 6-12 months of extensive treatment, stepping down from inpatient, where he is now, to community programs when he goes home. If home is not safe from using then community services should include a three-quarter or half-way house or some other form of transitional living.

Will your Loved One sign a release so that you can participate in the aftercare meetings? The rehab team, you, and your Loved One all need to be organizing the next steps. You want to make sure this is happening and provide any support possible to make this happen.

If you do not want him home when you are not home, tell the program. Tell him as well.

If you no longer want him to live with you, tell the program and your Loved One. The aftercare will need to include housing. This is the hardest part, so tell them now and push hard. Even if he will not sign a release, you can tell the program that he is not welcome home until your return from your travels, or at all. He is essentially homeless.

You have lived a long time with someone who has acted ungrateful and someone you couldn’t trust. You are worried about your home. We have written posts on this blog about housing. Here is a link to one.

Your Loved One is in treatment. Regardless of his level of motivation for that treatment, he is showing signs of wanting to change and address the drugs. In one post we talk about setting up a day bed in a common space, with a foot locker for his things, and making that the “housing.” Turn the upstairs into a yoga room or an art studio. He gets to sleep on the day bed when he’s sober, otherwise you would ask him to respect your home and stay away until he is no longer high. Your home is a reward that your Loved One gets access to when he is not using.

Thank you for writing in, Sunshine. Your experience is important and many family members have similar concerns as their Loved One enters treatment.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)