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How Can We Best Support Her When She Leaves Rehab?

Girls by Ocean I Will Change The World

gptraveler’s Loved One is getting ready to return to her home after several weeks in treatment. She sounds steady and committed, and is now working on an aftercare plan with the staff. The family is ready to stay out of the daily details of her recovery, and support her until she’s ready to work full-time again… But how can they best provide emotional support during this transition?

Our adult daughter is in her 5th week of treatment. She will be headed back to her home in less than 2 weeks. She sounds good on the phone and is committed to the work she's been doing in rehab. This coming week she will be working with the staff on her plan for after discharge. We plan to continue partial financial support until she is back working full time. She hopes to work only part time for while and we support that decision. I think she is hoping/planning to work with an outpatient program for a while.

My question for AiR is what things should my husband and I keep in mind so we can provide the best emotional support as she transitions home? We won't be inserting ourselves into her recovery since we have no idea what she is supposed to be doing.

Is there a convenient list of things to keep in mind?

Dear gptraveler,

It was such a relief to hear that your daughter found the treatment that she did this summer. Kudos to her and to you for seeing her through those rough patches that led up to her finally getting help.

It’s also great to hear that she is feeling grounded in her recovery work. That she is addressing the aftercare plan with the staff, and planning to ease back in to her life with part-time work at first is also great news. Your willingness to support her in this transition – and to stay out of her hair as much as you can – is so important. Thank you for being there for her in this way.

As far as anticipating her return back to her home, the best way to approach this is by staying grounded in CRAFT. At the beginning of Learning Module 8, Dominique presents a short recap of the Learning Modules. This recap can help anchor you in the principles of CRAFT as you support her work and cheer her progress. Here’s the basic summary: “Create the bridge. Empathize and show respect. Stop the negative talk; add in positive talk. Listen to what your Loved One is saying. Make requests and don’t dominate. Take care of yourself. This helps you stay calm and patient. Finally, realize it’s a process.”

As you reflect on the past, maybe you will notice that some of these items come more easily to you than others. Use that reflection to prepare yourself for what you can do going forward. Many family members use the phrase “cautious optimism” about their Loved One’s early sobriety. Remember that it’s one day at a time – even one moment at a time. Keep practicing CRAFT to anchor yourself and your responses. Providing that consistency for your daughter is such a gift.

It’s wise that you are planning to step back and let her handle the recovery activities – unless she wants or needs your help with these. You can have a candid conversation with her, telling her how proud you are of her, and how strong she has been… and asking her what kind of support she would like from you. Ask her what would be helpful, and what would not be helpful. Let her know that you respect her work as well as her independence, and that you’re there to help her succeed.

Her work is hers to do. She may have a host of mixed emotions right now, and will likely continue to as she embarks on this next phase of her journey. But you can help reinforce her positive work by taking opportunities to remind her of all there is to love, admire and respect about herself. Sometimes hearing this at the right moment lands in a way it wasn't able to in the past. Be open to this. 

This post links to an article that lays out 6 things to do as you welcome a family member back into the home after rehab. It’s from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, but the general gist is the same no matter your Loved One’s age or your relationship to them. Even though the tone of the piece is aimed at parents of teens with drug or alcohol problems, the list it provides is thoughtfully considered. It promotes respectful and open communications, self-care, and perspective on the individual nature of recovery.

The more you can embrace the idea of recovery as a process, rather than an on-off switch, the better. It will ease your expectations as well as your ability to relate to the daily struggles your daughter may experience. This theme comes up again and again in the writings of seasoned recovery experts, family members, and people who have overcome addiction. Keep focusing on what’s going on in the moment, offer plenty of positive reinforcement, and respectfully step aside as much as you can as she learns to navigate her world anew outside of rehab.

She is lucky to have your love and support. Keep reaching out to let us know what else we can help you with. We wish you all a smooth and peaceful transition.



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"...)

  1. I have been following Allies in Recovery for a couple of years now and still visit daily. Lately, my LO has relapsed along with her boyfriend. They had been living with us for 3 sober months. I am still thinking over this latest relapse and the devastation it has brought to their lives in recovery. For myself, I am trying to find positives and seeking self care. I attend online meetings with others in the same boat and that has been very helpful. I am working through some modules again as well. I have learned that there are things I can control and things I can’t, no matter how much I might want to. Part of that education and reflection has brought me to “circles of control, influence, and concern.” It is helping me to see what I can control but it also allows me to see how I can influence my LO. Module 7 is reviewing my thinking and I am wondering if someone might want to address these circles in a post or podcast. I find the topics here to be very helpful in guiding my course and seeking self care.

    1. So very sorry to hear that your daughter is struggling, gptraveler. It of course makes sense that you, too, are struggling with this new development.

      Here is a good piece Dominique located on “Circles of control”:

      If this topic is something you wanted to share more about, we invite you to write in, as a comment or perhaps a guest blog post, or send us a sound file using your cellphone’s dictaphone…

      In the meantime, we are sending you, your daughter and her boyfriend, and your family, our very best wishes for a quick return to the recovery track. She is so lucky to have a mother so thoughtful, so willing to keep evolving and asking the right questions, so present with deep compassion and assistance.

    2. Relapse again.
      My daughter and her BF were living with us in recovery for the past 6 months. The 6 months prior to that, they had several AUD relapses while staying with us. They go away to drink, sleep in hotels, and order out until they are broke. It was especially hard for them because COVID shut down access to most of the outside world. They are never under my roof when these relapses happen and I actually feel like my boundaries are accepted without complaint.
      This time she had a great job with all her money going to paying outstanding credit bills and reestablishing herself. They were happy and excited about their futures. He had just finished a training course and got his CDL license. He accepted a great new job that day.
      My daughter’s brilliant idea was to go out to dinner to celebrate. In the matter of a few hours, that changed to an overnight stay. She found people to work for her. It went on for over a week away. It’s now been 2 weeks and we haven’t heard from them for a week of that. I suspect the worst. What a crash!
      So getting back to me, I am struggling and heartbroken. This is natural, I accept that I have good reason. I have just finished Module 6 again, trying to steel myself to staying distant as my encouragement and support have been important to their lives right along and may feel like a reward.
      I sent an email to them a couple days ago. (It feels like an eternity.) In it, I tried to make it about me, my feelings and concerns, my own plan for self care, and what my husband and I could do for them when they are ready. I emphasized that it is their work to do but they could come back here with the usual deal – no drinking, no drama.
      It is horrible to stand by and not say anything while they blow through any money she has saved and her latest stimulus money. I want them to put the brakes on now rather than have them hit rock bottom again. Yes, they have to want that at least as much as I want it. That’s the trick.
      When relapse happens I feel like I have to go back to square one. But I know that isn’t true because I can’t unlearn what AIR, CRAFT, and REST have taught me. The tools I operate with now give me insight into myself and addiction. But it’s going to take them a while to feel more than a few natural consequences and the waiting is so hard. In the meantime, who knows what bad things might befall them. I try to push those thoughts as far away as possible since they only cause pain and I have no communication to confirm/disprove them. At the same time I want to be emotionally prepared for devastation. That in itself is very bad, the idea that I have to be prepared for the worst.
      I want to reach out to them, to tell them I know they can get back on track, that they have a “longer” experience in recovery to fall back on. I want them to see my husband and I as loving parents who are forgiving and understanding of the challenges they face as people with AUD. I want to stay connected but I’m concerned that connection is a reward.
      Believe it or not, time is often my friend in these times. I know that with each day, I will continue to process things and gain more insight that I can work with. I can actively pursue self-care and peace. But waiting is so hard.
      Thanks for listening and for sharing your knowledge, hope, and experience.

      1. Dear gptraveler, We thank you for taking the time to update the Allies team and community on your daughter’s relapse to drinking.

        It is indeed heartbreaking reading your account. She and her partner made monumental progress in the last 6 months under your roof, thanks in part to your diligent CRAFT-work. At the time you wrote the above comment, your daughter and her partner were at large, with no contact, for 2 weeks. Of course it would feel like an absolute eternity. I hope that by the time this post reaches you, you will have heard from her and will feel at least slightly reassured.

        You describe being in a place of struggling and feeling heartbroken. How could you not? As you so well know by now, feeling the feelings is so important in preserving yourself. Though it’s of course a real challenge for any of us, allowing yourself to be where you are and allowing your daughter to be where she is can only help to foster more peace within you.

        I’d like to share a quote with you, from an inspiring woman we’ve had the great pleasure of getting to know through this site:

        “Thank you to everyone here at Allies in Recovery for creating a program for families and friends so we can be resilient to hard times and get back to our own recovery more quickly. That resilience has been key for me.”

        The inspiring woman who wrote those words is you, gptraveler.

        Read my full response to gptraveler here:

        1. Thank you, Isabel. I feel your understanding and compassion in this post and all the others I read here on Allies. As you said, time has passed and my loved ones are back here. Natural consequences this time included running out of money and after lending her car to a “friend,” she had to contact the police to get her car back a week later. The friend was arrested. We had to pay for the Uber and the impound fees but it was to settle them back in a recovery setting, our home. Nothing like real life to teach the lessons we all needed. The wait was hard but I had come down from panic and anxiety at least to simple concern.
          My husband and I had a sit down with them and I was able to apply a lesson I learned at a REST meeting. I planned the talk as a sandwich. I thanked them and spoke positively about their return to their senses; I made the point about the “no drinking, no drama” rule and also told them we would talk again soon about their plan for addressing recovery in a more dedicated way, taking into account they work full time. Finally I told them I was confident they could devise a plan that works for them.
          Miracle of miracles, they both still had their jobs when they returned so replenishing the bank is happening. We plan to talk again very soon and I have a couple resources to offer if they are interested. In my husband’s and my opinion, they have taken their recovery a little too lightly and need to address relapse prevention in a more formal and direct way.
          There’s no way to know if things will hold on, nothing new here. Impulse control and relapse are always present but I hope they can focus on that specifically to strengthen their work in recovery. They are still in the spiral illustrated in the “trajectory of sobriety” but I know they are stronger for all the times they have been sober.
          Thank you for replying to my post. Your whole team works incredibly hard and it makes Allies In Recovery a real force for good in families with SUD.

  2. After a nice 6 months of sobriety, our daughter has relapsed. I don’t know the details of when, why, how long it happened. What I do know is she has fessed up to it herself, told the manager of her sober house, and tells me she will go somewhere for 3 days before being allowed back into the house. I assume that means detox. My heart broke a bit upon reading the text she sent me.
    As is often the case, I had a suspicion something was up when she didn’t reply to emails and texts this weekend. We had just been out to supper with her and her boyfriend 6 days ago and they both seemed very happy.
    I have many questions running around in my head: will she lose her job, was this a one off or have there been other slips, will she devise a strong plan for moving forward? She says she is feeling down but overall still positive in her outlook. She really did have a strong program going for herself. She will need to do even more.
    But again, that’s me allowing myself to jump back into her recovery in ways that will probably not help. Over these many months, I have had a worry in the back of my head that I have had to push back. I think it is quite normal for us to think like that and be ready for relapse to strike, no matter how positive things are going.
    AIR has prepared me to see this as a possibility. I love the trajectory of sobriety graphic on this site and it has come back to me many times so I could be ready with hope and positive thinking if it happened.
    So, having one day of the bad news behind me, I am moving on to some work I am responsible for, my own self care. I will once again dive back into the modules and do some thinking on all the positive things I can think and do. I understand that relapse can happen and even shared that knowledge with my daughter months ago so she would be up front about it if it happened and not protect me overmuch. She has quoted that a number of times in the past and each time I think she was testing my reaction. She knows we love and understand; she even said that in her text. One less burden for her I hope.
    She has learned so very much over these past 6+ months and she will be carrying that knowledge into her new recovery. She has a strong network of support and counseling.
    Thank you to everyone here at AIR for creating a program for families and friends so we can be resilient to hard times and get back to our own recovery more quickly. That resilience has been key for me.

  3. Update: Our daughter doesn’t feel comfortable about going back to her home yet. She doesn’t feel ready and is seeking an extension of treatment and then a sober house. She is feeling very positive about herself for a change. She sees how far she has come and is creating a plan for (her words) “a healthy and happy life.” She is making some tough decisions and standing her ground to get what she needs. We couldn’t be happier for her and we marvel at how strong she is.
    CRAFT has coached us on how to operate as her help and support with a minimum of inserting ourselves into her problems. We have had good tools to work with and for that we thank you all. Looking forward to watching this woman grow in her recovery with a strong network of peers, counseling, and family support.
    Never lose hope.

    1. This is brilliant! Your update does indeed help us on the path of never losing hope. We are all rooting for your daughter, and thrilled to hear that she is seeing herself in a positive light, and advocating for herself. Bravo!! CRAFT continues to be here for you, and we’re so glad you and your family feel good about the tool kit you’ve developed through the Allies site. Keep it up!!

    2. Congrats on your daughter’s motivation and commitment to health and recovery! One thought to share is that not all sober houses are created equal; and many are totally unregulated. In Massachusetts there is a voluntary certification for sober houses; but it is not a requirement to operate. The state will only contract with certified sober houses; and certification may give some assurance of quality. That being said, it’s important to familiarize oneself with the criteria for certification.

      The Partnership for drug free kids has a great guide for evaluating quality in residential rehabilitation programs. Not sure how relevant it would be for sober houses; or whether they may have a similar document for houses.

      Best of luck to you all!

      1. I understand and appreciate the input. She feels she has had excellent guidance in these things throughout the 7 weeks she has been in treatment. The sober home she is planning to go to is certified through the Massachusetts Alliance for Sober Housing (MASH.)

  4. Emily, thank you very much for this well thought out reply.
    I think I will re-read it several times to anchor in the messages.
    I will also head over to Module 8 again. So often I find myself going back to the modules for guidance and reinforcement.
    We have still been a bit anxious about our daughter’s return to her home. I especially like what you said about cautious optimism and keeping the mindset that recovery is a process. I will steal your lines for a candid conversation. We want to maintain a connection to her and in the past she has kept her distance.
    One day at a time.