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6 Steps to Take Before Your Child Returns Home from Addiction Treatment

The day has finally come for you and your family to welcome your son or daughter back from a residential treatment program (rehab) for addiction to drugs or alcohol. You may be cautiously optimistic for the homecoming or you may be worried about how it will go. You may not feel ready for your child to come home yet, remembering that feeling of walking on eggshells when he or she was home last, struggling with their substance use. These feelings are completely normal and you may even be experiencing them simultaneously. You and your child are about to enter a new phase in a long process called recovery. It will still involve sacrifice for you and your family, and it’s best to talk about what that will mean for everyone and plan for it. Although you cannot control what will happen (as your son or daughter is ultimately responsible for his or her own recovery), you absolutely can be proactive and better prepared to be supportive in your child’s recovery. 1. First, it’s time for a thorough housecleaning to prevent any temptations.

• Take all substances and paraphernalia you can find out of your home. • Secure all alcohol or remove it completely from your home. • Lock up your medicine cabinet and dispose of any old or unused prescriptions. • Search your son or daughter’s room for drugs, alcohol and paraphernalia — and then search it again.

2. Next, get naloxone as a prevention measure.

• If your child’s substance use included opioids (heroin and prescription pain medications like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet), have you obtained a Naloxone kit? Naloxone (also known by the brand name Narcan) can reverse an overdose, potentially saving a loved one’s life. It’s never the wrong choice to be safe. In many states, chain drugstores, as well as some independent drugstores, are providing naloxone through their pharmacies without requiring a prescription. • Is the Naloxone kit easily accessible in your home? • Have you and your family members learned how to use the Naloxone kit?

3. Make the aftercare plan a priority. The first step is to fully understand what the treatment facility is recommending for the next steps and clarify anything that is unclear or concerning to you. Hopefully, you and your family were part of developing this “aftercare,” “discharge,” “continuing care” or “stepdown” plan — the plan for those next steps after treatment.

4. Try CRAFT skills to improve communications in your family.

Community Reinforcement and Family Training, or CRAFT, is a scientifically proven approach to help parents with skills to stay involved in their child’s recovery in a positive, ongoing way. CRAFT provides families like yours with tools to better understand your child’s reasons for substance use, ways to improve communication and to reward non-using behaviors while discouraging substance use. Equally important are the tools around self-care to handle negative emotions like anger, guilt and depression, and to address feelings of isolation.

5. Develop a contract and a Recovery Plan

You’ll want to establish some boundaries and rules with your child. Some families find it helpful to develop a contract that includes both positive reinforcement or rewards for good behavior and consequences when they push boundaries or break the rules.

In addition to a contract that simply states what is expected, you should also create a Recovery Plan. A Recovery Plan is for both you and your son or daughter to put down in writing what you both agree to do (or not do) to help support and maintain continued recovery and personal growth.

6. Take it one day — perhaps one minute — at a time.

The first few weeks and months of recovery will probably be the hardest. Your son or daughter will most likely go through periods of emotional ups and downs. He or she may be angry at times (at him/herself, at you, at others, or just angry), sad at other times, or even may seem manipulative or distant.

Other times he or she may be grateful and more like the person you used to know — savor those moments! Be sure to point out any and all positives, and offer hope and compassion. There isn’t a “one size fits all” road map to recovery.

Good luck to you and your family, and never give up. There is hope.

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