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Can My Loved One Come Visit Me In Rehab?

Debra Wallace, MA.Ed, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Debra Wallace, MA.Ed, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS

January 24, 2019

Most drug and alcohol treatment facilities allow visits from loved ones after first being approved by a therapist or other treatment professional. Visits are an opportunity for family members to become more involved with their loved one’s recovery through workshops and family therapy sessions.

For some, entering treatment might mean leaving behind a toxic environment that encouraged their addiction. For others, it can benefit the family to see what life is like when the addicted person is removed from the household. Either way, for family, friends, and the drug- or alcohol-addicted person, that first week in treatment represents a major transition.

How Rehab Facilities Treat Visits From Family

Treatment and rehab professionals know how important support from family and friends is to those recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. Visits are usually significantly restricted during the first week of treatment, and gradually increased during the stay. Some facilities offer workshops and encourage family therapy sessions during an individual’s stay in rehab. This type of programming is hugely beneficial in addressing issues of co-dependency, denial, anger, trust, and to improve communication.

If a family member cannot physically be present for a visit or counseling session, they are still encouraged to call or write letters of support to their loved one. Email and cell phones are usually discouraged to vary degrees or prohibited, depending on the facility as they are the most common route for transgressions leading to drug relapse.

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Drug Rehab And Family Therapy

Addiction is often referred to as a family disease. While individual therapy works to improve a person’s thought patterns and coping skills, the inclusion of family therapy sessions during visits offers a new dynamic that benefits family members who have been adversely affected by the addiction. Often family members have taken on excess financial and emotional burdens to accommodate, or enable their loved one’s addiction. They are acting on learned behaviors that may be addressed before the drug- or alcohol-addicted person returns home.

For those under 18, family therapy plays an integral role in building stronger family relationships to prevent any dysfunction from furthering the abuse. In studies measuring residual problem areas in the months after treatment, those who had undergone some form of multidimensional family therapy, versus individual behavioral therapy alone, indicated success rates double that of the control group.

During family treatment sessions co-dependent behaviors are usually identified, and responsibilities and consequences outlined. Family dysfunction can be a leading risk factor toward addiction and addictive behaviors. Addressing this dysfunction will aid in the prevention of future relapse and preservation of the core structure of support available for the drug- or alcohol-addicted individual.

Rehab Programs For Women And Children

In recent decades, a changing awareness of the different needs of men and women during treatment has resulted in specialized treatment programming for women. Some rehab facilities now allow children to not only visit but in some cases reside with their mothers while undergoing care for drug or alcohol addiction.

When Are Visits A Bad Idea

Obviously, a visit from someone who is currently abusing drugs is not a good idea for those undergoing treatment. For family members serious about helping their loved one through the stages of recovery, staying clean around that person is essential. Even if someone close to the drug- or alcohol-addicted individual only consumes alcohol on occasion, it is best to avoid doing so in the presence of the person in recovery. This is an issue that is also addressed during family visits and therapy sessions.

If your counselor or other treatment professional feels a person requesting a visit is not a good influence on your recovery, that person will be discouraged to visit until any underlying issues leading to the restriction are resolved.

When Your Loved One Is Your Pet

Most drug rehab facilities do not allow pets to accompany their owners for treatment, nor do they permit visits from pets. This is due to a number of reasons including potential allergens, noise, and safety. Depending on the type of program, the person in rehab may be permitted to leave the facility to visit his or her pet.

Family Support Means Greater Chance of Success

Support from family during drug or alcohol rehab improves an individual’s chance of success. Increasing the number of visits as treatment progresses and including an element of family therapy improves a person’s chance for recovery substantially. Not everyone can physically be present at a treatment facility to visit, but phone calls and letter-writing are nearly always permitted to accommodate.

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