'John is coming home.'   How to handle your loved one coming back from rehab.

'John is coming home.' How to handle your loved one coming back from rehab.

Photo by Shaojie on Unsplash




‘I just wish things can get back to normal.’  


We understand.  You’ve been through a lot, and it is common for family members to wish things can be easy and normal again after their loved one gets back from rehab.   


Unfortunately, both you and the addict's worlds have changed, and the months after rehab can be full of uncertainty and worry.  


  • Your loved one has learned new ways of coping with the world, and it can be hard to 'perform' in real life, especially after years of alcohol or drug abuse.
  • As a family, you should know how to support your loved one to ensure long-time recovery.   But how to do it?


It is hard for everybody.


What to do when your loved one gets home from rehab


Expect things to be different.


Recovery time can be vulnerable, confusing, and awkward all at the same time – and not just for the addict!   Do not deny what is right in front of you, but rather make plans to confront it.    


The addict should have a stable place to live and be busy every with meaningful activities every day.   


Overall, they should manage their disease and make choices that promote their total health and well-being.   The relationships in their lives should help provide support, friendship, love and also, hope.


Educate yourselves


If you haven’t done so already, it might be a good idea as a family to educate yourselves about the specific substance use disorder that your loved one has.   


How does it affect a person?   How can you understand their mindset better?   Educating yourself will also help you in recognizing potential triggers that might cause your loved one to relapse.


Healthy habits


A daily routine is crucial for recovery.   It is helpful because recovering addicts often tend to focus too much on negative thought patterns.   Maintaining a job, cleaning, household responsibilities, exercise, and fellowship meetings can ultimately mean the difference between recovery or relapse.


Rebuild your relationship


His substance abuse has likely damaged the trust relationship you had with your loved one.   Working to rebuild trust and relations are part of recovery.


An active addict wants to deceive others and isolate himself.  Part of rebuilding a new relationship is open communication.   


What can you talk about?


  • You can talk about your loved one's struggles and lifegoals.
  • What are his or her fears?  
  • What are potential triggers?
  • When or why does the person feel uncomfortable?  
  • Encourage the person to get out and do something, volunteer, or start a new hobby.


Open communication is necessary to mend, but also to inject trust into your relationship again.


Focus on sobriety


Your loved one needs to start attending an outpatient rehab program or a support group as soon as possible.   


There are many support groups:  from the AA, NA to church-based support groups and rehab alumni groups.   These people know what addicts need in early recovery.  They give encouragement and motivation to recovering addicts to stay sober for longer.


‘And me?’


Yes, we know.  When a loved one returns home after rehab, the entire family is affected by his return.   


Perhaps you’ve suffered much, and the addiction made your loved one an absolute monster.   You may still harbor feelings of deep resentment.   You need to heal too.   


It might help to get some professional help to learn to cope with your feelings and healthily deal with them.   


Al-Anon has support group meetings for the families of recovering addicts.   Their rules for living with a recovering addict are:


  • You are your own person.  Don’t let the actions (or reactions) of others determine your life.
  • It is never a good idea to be abused in the interest of ‘recovery.’
  • Your loved one should do most things for himself.
  • Don’t manipulate situations so that the recovering addict will eat, go to bed, or more.
  • Mistakes are now out in the open!  Don’t cover it up!
  • Do not create a crisis, nor try and prevent one!   If it is in the natural course of events, let it happen.  




John is back home.   


Depending on John's age and family circumstances, every situation looks different.   It is different if there are children involved.   Perhaps John is still an adolescent himself.


Maybe the most important rule to remember is that there are no clear-cut rules.


The Bible says we must take each day as it comes.   The New Testament for Everyone states it beautifully:

‘So, don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow can worry about itself. One day’s trouble at a time is quite enough.’


Support John.  Love him.   Then, worry about tomorrow when the time comes.


At Largest Heart, we have resources and information that can help.   Please browse our website or contact us – we’d love to hear from you!