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Things to Talk About with a Loved One in Rehab

An older man sits at home talking on the phone, with a smile on his face.
Don’t let fear hold you back from reaching out to a loved one who is in rehab.


When someone’s going through a hard time—whether it’s a job loss, a health crises or rehab—we often don’t know what to say.

Do we ask our family member or friend about the situation? Or is it a better idea to talk about something else and give our loved one a break from the problem at hand?

Try this:

“Do you want to talk about how rehab is going? Or would you rather get your mind off it and talk about that Rockies game—or whatever else is on your mind?”

If your loved one is open to talking about her recovery, you could tell inspiring stories you’ve heard. Or you could ask what a typical day is like.

If not, move on to a different topic.

How to Communicate with Someone in Rehab

First of all, respect the rules of the program. Your loved one is in safe hands. If you’ve been asked not to contact him or her for a specified period of time, don’t try to circumvent the rules.

Another thing to avoid is probing questions. You may be used to trying to “uncover” the truth because that’s what life was like when your loved one was using. He or she is in treatment now. Back off a bit and give them room to breathe.

Yes, you want to be loving. But keep your tone light and upbeat. Don’t steer your loved one toward a pity party and—rule number one—don’t ask if they feel like drinking or using.

Lastly, don’t overreact. If your loved one tells you that she hates treatment and that it’s not working, do not get in the car.

If you feel the issue warrants discussion, call your contact at the treatment center. It may be your loved one is just having a bad day (which certainly happens in rehab). Your contact will be able to put things in perspective for you and possibly also fill you in on ways you can help.

Focus on the present—not the past—and move forward with love, patience and trust that grows a bit stronger each day.

About The Raleigh House

The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center located in Denver that believes addiction isn’t just a physical problem. Our master’s level trained therapists get to the root cause of addiction and help residents develop a strategy to manage and enjoy life without drugs or alcohol. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the treatment programs at The Raleigh House.

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