So you’ve put your loved one in treatment, now what? Most likely it’s your son or daughter. The years of drug use, drinking alcohol, lying, and cheating has finally come to a crossroads and you’ve put your loved one in drug rehab. Whether your Britney Spears parents, or John Smith’s parents, there are certain things parents can expect when their child enters drug rehab for the first, second, or twentieth time.
First, remember that rehab is not supposed to be a pleasant experience. If your child did not willingly enter addiction treatment then the moment that you gave him or her no option except to enter drug rehab, they began to plan their escape. For the addict or alcoholic forced to go into drug rehab and unwilling to fully accept help, the road of rehab can be a difficult and painstaking experience not just for the person in drug rehab, but for the family as well.
Here’s what to expect when you have a loved one of child in drug rehab:
- Your child in drug rehab will most likely begin complaining almost immediately about something. They may complain about the living conditions, the staff, or all of the above. Now, the chances of the drug rehab facilities and staff being as miserable as the child says it is highly unlikely. The days of rundown rehabs with power hungry staff are a thing of the past, at least in the majority of California Drug Rehabs and other state licensed drug rehabs. What the person in drug rehab is really doing is starting to build a case against the drug rehab you have so coldly and heartlessly (from their perspective) forced them into. If this happens talk to your loved one’s case manager or intake director to find out what’s really going on.
- Remember that your child, even though he or she may be 25 years old, is still a child developmentally and will act like one. Remember when they were little kids and you told them to clean their room or take out the trash? What was their reaction back then? Well, their reaction back then is usually nothing compared to what their reaction to being told to clean their room, or take out the trash will be when their older and in drug rehab. Clients will kick and scream when their freedom is suddenly reduced to that of a grounded child. This will create more resentment and anger, and cause the your loved one to work even harder at building a case against the awful drug rehab you have forced them into. The addiction treatment staff are experienced at working with grown children forced into drug rehab, so listen to the staff’s suggestions about how to handle your child’s rantings and ravings about the drug rehab.
- Remember that you get what you pay for! If you have decided to send your child to a Sober Living house only, or a state funded drug rehab, then the quality of the facility, its staff, and its supervision will be lower then the higher priced drug rehabs. This is not to say that your loved one cannot still get sober, but the complaints may be slightly more justified. Again, listen to the staff and take what your child says about the rehab with a large spoonful of salt. If you are really concerned that what your child is saying about the drug rehab is true, then go visit the drug rehab and meet everyone. Check it out for yourself if you haven’t already.
- This may sound harsh and cold, but having been through drug rehab I have noticed that the family who stays out of their child’s treatment while they are in rehab usually have a better chance at receiving the treatment they are being offered. If the person in drug rehab thinks they can still manipulate their parents into getting their way, then everyone involved in the person’s treatment is in for a long and painful ride. So what do you do as a parent? I suggest you have as little contact with your child as possible while they are in treatment and don’t interfere with the staff’s decisions about your child’s treatment. I suggest that parents enter Alanon the day their child enters drug rehab and don’t talk to your child unless it’s during the treatment facilities Family Program. Let the professionals do their job. Studies have shown that the more interference treatment professionals get from parents over their child’s care, the lower the quality of treatment your child will receive.
- Your loved one may be allowed weekend passes to go home after they have been in treatment for a certain amount of time. It may be that your child is complaining about how much he misses you and wants to see his dog, cat, or parakeet, but once again this is your child trying to manipulate the situation. When I was in rehab I didn’t go home for 9 months. If you want to visit your child in drug rehab then do so when the clinicians feel it is safe and healthy to do so. But, be aware of your child pulling on your heart strings to come home. This may be another manipulation tactic. He or she may come home and never go back to treatment.
The important thing to remember is that even people who have no desire to stop using drugs or drinking can recover despite themselves. Alcohol and addiction rehabs are experienced in working with resistant clients in treatment, because most of the people who work in addiction treatment were once resistant brats themselves, like me. Only on the most rarest of occasions does someone enter treatment willingly and open-mindedly enough to actually enjoy the rehab experience, but it can be an enjoyable and life changing experience for you child. The best thing you can do as a parent is stay out of the way of the treatment process, be there to support your child and the treatment staff, and get help for yourself. Take it from someone who’s been on both ends of the addiction treatment process, as a parent and as a client. Sincerely, An Experienced Parent