How to Maintain Relationships in Rehab

maintain relationships in rehab

How to Maintain Relationships in Rehab

One of the biggest concerns for people who are preparing to attend a drug and alcohol rehab program is how they can maintain relationships while they are in the drug treatment program. From a practical standpoint, it may be easier to maintain relationships while attending an outpatient program than an inpatient one. After all, people in an outpatient program can return home after treatment each day, allowing them to still see their friends and family. However, rehab is time-consuming regardless of the location of the treatment, which can potentially cause strain on relationships.

Speaking of strain on relationships, an addiction to drugs or alcohol can damage relationships of all kinds. Romantic, family, friendly, and professional relationships all suffer as a result of addiction because people with addiction sometimes do and say things that are hurtful. Although many people in your life will be excited and relieved when you tell them that you are planning to go to rehab, you might find that others are less enthusiastic. Maybe they’ve heard you say more than once that you’re going to get clean and sober, so they no longer believe you. Or perhaps they feel they’ve been hurt by you too many times in the past, so they have checked out of the relationship.

Another concern for men and women who are preparing to attend a drug and alcohol treatment program is embarrassment and shame. Although there is no need to feel ashamed about going to rehab, many people still feel embarrassed about it. While our society has made a great deal of progress in viewing addiction as a disease that needs treatments, some people still view it as a sign of weakness or a character flaw. Knowing that people in your life hold these views can make you worry about how going to rehab will impact your relationships.

The experienced and compassionate drug and alcohol treatment professionals at HARP have compiled some tips and tricks to help you maintain relationships while you are in a rehab program and help you create new healthy relationships when you return home that can help in you in the recovery process.

Understanding Communication Rules

Each drug and alcohol rehab program has different rules about communication while you are in the program. These rules aren’t quite as strict if you are in an outpatient program because you can return home after you complete therapy and treatment for the day. Obviously, communication and interaction with friends and family can continue when you return home.

The only real limitation is the recommendation that you avoid friends and family members who encourage or trigger your substance abuse. For example, if you are friends with someone and the only activity you ever do together is use drugs or drink alcohol, your therapist will advise you to avoid interacting with them to help avoid temptation and relapse.

In an inpatient program, you will likely find that the rules about communication with loved ones and friends are a bit stricter. Some programs will not allow you to have any contact with other people outside of the program during your stay. This might seem restrictive and insensitive; however, it does serve a purpose. These types of programs believe it is important for clients to focus entirely on their recovery during their stay in rehab. As a result, such a program will encourage you to only interact with the treatment staff and other people in recovery.

As for other inpatient programs, the communication rules are less strict. Depending on the program, you can speak on the phone, over email, or even have visits with your friends and loved ones. Your rehab center might have certain rules, such as you can only have access to the phone or internet during certain times of the day. Almost every inpatient rehab program has specific visiting hours for friends and family, and some programs will require the visits to be scheduled in advance to avoid interrupting the treatment process.

Be sure to ask questions about communication rules before you attend a rehab program. After understanding the rules, you should let your loved ones and friends know what they are. Together, you can make plans for how you will keep in touch and maintain your relationship during your stay. People who truly care about you will support your decision to attend rehab and will not let your relationship fall apart if you can’t communicate with them frequently during your recovery.

How to Overcome The Past

If you’re like most people who struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you have likely hurt your friends and family. Although these hurts were most likely unintentional, they still occurred. Maybe your loved ones feel like you chose drugs or alcohol over them. Perhaps they feel angry, sad, or betrayed after you broke promises. They may also feel embarrassed by your past behaviors that were a result of your addiction.




While you are in treatment you will further discuss your specific relationships and how to make amends for pass behavior; however, there are some basic things that can help everyone who has struggled with addiction. Take time to realize that you have hurt your loved ones. The point of this exercise is not to make yourself feel terrible or guilty, but to recognize why your family and friends feel the way they do. By putting yourself in their shoes, you can better empathize with them.

Once you recognize the hurt that you caused, you should take time to speak with your loved ones. Tell them that you recognize that you have hurt them and offer a sincere apology. Explain that you are going to rehab to overcome your addiction so you can be a better person in the future. If you feel ready for this before attending rehab, you can have a talk with them then. You can also wait until after you complete the program. Additionally, you have the option to talk to them both before and after rehab.

Before you speak with your family and friends, be prepared to experience different reactions. Some might graciously accept your apology and express their excitement about your decision to attend a drug and alcohol treatment program. However, others might not be ready to accept your apology. They might also want to see your actions, not hear just your words. For these people, accept their feelings and commit yourself to the work of recovery. Action will speak louder than words for these individuals, so finding success in rehab may mean more to them than an apology.

How to Reevaluate Relationships After Rehab

While you are in rehab, you might discover that you need to rethink certain relationships in your life. As mentioned above, you should no longer spend time with people who trigger you to use drugs or alcohol. You need to identify the people who will help your recovery and those who will hinder it. The people you want to keep in your life are those who are supportive of you and your sobriety and do not tempt you to return to substance abuse. There are numerous types of toxic relationships and you should remove all of them from your life to avoid returning to drug or alcohol use.

  • Substance Abusers – These people are friends who you spent time using drugs or alcohol with. They may also be the people who gave you these substances. When you spend time with these people they tempt you to use drugs or alcohol. They are likely people who have an untreated substance abuse problem themselves, which can be problematic for your recovery. You need to avoid these friends so you don’t relapse.
  • Codependents – During your addiction, you might have developed codependent relationships. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), codependents are people who have “learned to believe that love, acceptance, security, and approval are contingent upon taking care of the addict in the way the addict wishes.” These people can be friends, spouses, children, or parents who exhibit this form of excessive caretaking. You may have become dependent on them and they may come to view being your caretaker as their identity, so they may be reluctant to change their identity.
  • Enablers – Enablers directly or indirectly encourage you to keep drinking or doing drugs. There is more than one form of enabling behavior. Sometimes, enabling involves lying or making excuses for your behavior. It may also involve giving you money for drugs or alcohol, or even giving you these substances directly. They might think that they are doing these things out of love, but they are actually hurting you.

Your therapist and support groups can help you identify specific people in your life who fall into these categories of toxic relationships and they will recommend that you no longer have them in your life. This can be a hard decision to make. In some cases, you might be able to have a relationship with them again in the future. For example, if an enabler attends therapy, realizes their role in your substance abuse, and makes changes to their thoughts and behaviors, you might be able to have a relationship with them again. However, other people, such as those you had nothing in common with other than substance abuse, may need to stay out of your life forever.

If you find that you need to form some new relationships after doing some interpersonal housecleaning, you might be wondering how to make new positive relationships with friends who can support your recovery. Your therapist can help you identify people who are currently in your life who you can cultivate and he or she can also help you find places to meet new friends.

Many people form new positive relationships with members of support groups. People in these groups are also committed to getting clean and sober, and they understand the struggles. You can support each other and feel understood, two things that are important components of healthy post-rehab relationships.

You can also start to make new friends by joining religious organizations or community groups such as volunteer groups and professional groups. You should also consider getting involved with recreational activities you enjoy, such as sports, art, or dance. Engaging in fun activities is an excellent stress reliever and it also allows you to meet people who share your interests.

While you are building new relationships it is important to keep in mind that you should be careful about starting a new romantic relationship. While new romances can be exciting and a source of great happiness, they can also be distracting while you are in recovery. Early in recovery, you want to focus your energy on getting and staying clean and sober. However, relationships can interfere with this important work. Additionally, some people can throw themselves into these relationships much in the same way they threw themselves into their addiction. Clearly, this is not a healthy behavior. For this reason, many drug and alcohol treatment professionals recommend that people in recovery not get involved in a romantic relationship for at least one year.

Although recovery should be your primary focus during and after rehab, it is also important to maintain and build positive healthy relationships. If you have questions about HARP and our approach to treating addiction, you can contact our drug and alcohol treatment professionals to get the answers you need. If you or someone you love is ready to get help overcoming addiction, the experts at HARP are here for you.

HARP specializes in treating addiction to a wide variety of substances. Our team of caring medical professionals and addiction treatment specialists provides detox, support services, counseling, and long-term resources to ensure that each client has a comfortable and effective stay at our treatment center before they go home – clean and sober. With help and support, recovery from addiction is possible. The HARP methodology can help clients live a new life that’s free from drug and alcohol addiction.

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