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When He Gets Out of Treatment, How Much Should I Help Out?


AiR member All4All recently shared some news of progress with her son, and asked for guidance as to how much to help him once he has completed treatment:

“Though I can’t claim I used the principles discussed throughout this site as well as I could or should have, my son did elect to enter a residential treatment program. That brings up a whole new set of questions regarding supporting versus enabling after he is out.

To what extent should we go to set him up for success, perhaps rewards for completing the program? His counselor talks about “ropes” he should hang onto versus those he should let go of. Would it be beneficial to take some of those "ropes" from him? For example, his car needs some repairs, would it be helpful to him to fix the car before he is out so he does not have to worry about that, or have that “rope” to hang onto?

If he is committed to seeing a counselor after, is paying for the counselor helping or enabling? How much should we just let him figure it out on his own and how far should we go to discourage behaviors that are detrimental and reward behaviors that promote his recovery?”

A family’s effort continues once their loved one is in treatment, and after, too…

The principles on this site are meant to be a framework. We set out how the principles work in ideal circumstances. The degree to which you can follow these principles is based on what you can do in your given circumstances.  Just the intention to try can sometimes shift things.  

I'm so pleased your son went into treatment. Treatment provides the message of recovery!

The general guidelines we suggest in terms of support are:

a) do everything needed to support your Loved One WITH treatment (so we do suggest you help pay for his counselor if the fees are out of reach for him) and

b) let your Loved One take responsibility for the rest: his life, his things, his needs.

Of course, you can help out when asked, but provide rewards carefully, in small bite-size chunks:

  • one month of rent at a time,
  • essential car repairs only,
  • a pay-as-you-go cell phone, etc.

There’s a fine line between providing your Loved One with the tools he needs to be able to function in the world and follow his recovery plan (home, transport, communications)…. versus enabling him so that he ends up avoiding taking responsibility for himself.

You want the items/rewards to be easily removable should he relapse and refuse to stop or get help.  See these posts that speak about metering out supports.

As for your concern about discouraging detrimental behaviors, keep immersing yourself in the CRAFT approach, keep watching our video modules and reading up on the Blog, and you’ll see that as you assimilate the approach, you’ll have fewers doubts about what your role is.

I’ve written more about metering out rewards/supports in the following posts:

He's in treatment & doing well – but asking for financial help,” and “Are We Enabling if We Charge Him Rent?”

Finally, our post The “Roll Up Your Sleeves Guide” to Assisting in Recovery also has a section that gives you a veritable checklist of everything that you can do to help support the recovery process. Indeed, as your son moves through treatment and into the recovery phase, your role will shift – but first and foremost, you must be his ally in recovery.



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"...)