My Friend/Family Member Just Went Through Rehab. How Do I Fit Into Aftercare?

A Drug Education Article by Suncoast Rehab Center


Going through a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program is a life-changing adventure. And it should be. The person who completes rehab is often different from the person starting the program. On that same note, life after rehab should be nothing like life before rehab. Some have interpreted a drug free life as being an “idyllic dream that is nowhere close to reality,” but with proper treatment and a solid aftercare program, this dream is achievable.

An addict going into rehab has created a certain lifestyle. This way of living contained certain triggers/life situations which caused him to turn to drugs. After rehab, this drug-free person would not want to return to that same environment. He may want to/need to avoid these triggers, perhaps changing jobs, friends, or even location.

One could say that an effective rehab program would help the individual understand what makes him feel drugs are the answer. Knowing the cause(s) enables the person to change his life to a structure which does not encourage dependence and addiction. Aftercare counselors help with this change, but it’s the person himself who is the one in charge and should determine his future.

As friends and family, you are an AMAZING part of the aftercare portion of rehab. You are the ones who care enough about this person to help him make those changes needed to begin a new life. This may mean you need to sacrifice his company or help him live away from those influences that harmed him. On the other hand, this may mean he needs your help to start a healthy hobby like hiking, ceramics, exercise, etc.

But know this: You are a key part of the recovery process.

One of the best ways to help a graduate who is changing his life through aftercare is by examining your own relationship and expectations of him. Were there specific expectations presented by the family which seemed too hard to attain? Do friends and family drink or smoke pot around the person who has just graduated from rehab? Has he been accepting handouts from family or the government when he should be a part of the work-force? These behaviors and many others may need to be re-evaluated and changed.

The best thing a friend or family member can do to help a graduate with aftercare is work to aid him in becoming more independent and more responsible for his own life. A supportive and encouraging attitude can be difficult to have when a person has harmed himself and others with drugs. However, rehab can and does change a person. These changes and decisions made from that new point of view should be aided and encouraged during aftercare.

Part of making sure a rehab program is successful is really working with the counselors and seeing how you fit into the program and can help make the graduate’s new life a complete success.

Things should NOT be the same when he comes back home. What is best for you might not be what is best for the graduate. You may need to make some sacrifices. But his aftercare program is based on what he can do and should do to stay clean. Your support of him and the program will help get him there.

Now that we have discussed how important your support is, what are some general tips that can help you show your support? Here are a few:

• Keep positive! This is a big step.
• Before he leaves treatment, see if you can contact the after-care counselor to see if there is anything you can do to help your friend/family member stay clean when he leaves.
• Keep in touch with his aftercare counselor as needed.
• Once he leaves treatment, be interested in him, find out what his aftercare program consists of and find out from him what you can do to help him achieve his new goals.
• Assist him emotionally in any way you can.
• Be aware that this may require a few major changes in actions/activities/job/school/etc. Be prepared to work with him to make this happen. Remember, he is the one who just went through the rehab and a trained counselor worked with him to devise this program. If you don’t understand why he’s making some of those decisions, go ahead and ask him, but be sure to listen to and respect his answers. If you are very concerned and feel something doesn’t seem quite right, contact his aftercare counselor and discuss your concerns.

Finally, realize that this person is trying to change his life for the better. Be sure to help him in any way you can.

Thanks for being supportive and positive! Friends and family like you are incredibly important to those moving through rehab and into a new drug-free life.

If you have any questions, be sure to contact us 866-572-1788. We are available day and night.