Rehab: Am I Abandoning My Family, My Kids and My Animals?

Man and dog

As big a milestone is entering rehab for your addiction, a bigger challenge is to prepare for it. There are several factors to consider and steps to be taken in order to fully plan ahead for drug rehab. It’s not uncommon to stress over your family, job, bills or pets and wonder how they will cope while you are in treatment.

However, it’s important to understand that all of these things can be dealt with by taking time to prepare for addiction treatment. Following are a few measures that you can take to make this process easier on you.

You Cannot Pour From an Empty Cup

The most important thing for you to realize is that your recovery has to be your utmost priority.

It goes without saying that leaving family, children and pets behind is an extremely trying process. It is, however, in this moment more important for you to recover from your addiction, not just for your sake but for your loved ones, as well.

Addiction takes a profound toll on the family of the addict, which is why getting treatment becomes even more imminent. You will be unable to take care of your family and animals or spend quality time with them if you continue to struggle with your addiction. Compromising a few weeks in treatment is better than compromising your long-term relationships altogether.

Get on the Same Page

You may have to be the one to reach out to your loved ones and inform them of all the details regarding your addiction treatment. Explain to them your reasons, and the sacrifices and downsides the treatment may entail and assess the related expectations.

Let them know the changes you expect in yourself upon your return. This will help hold you accountable to stay sober once you get back. More importantly, let them know how much you care and how grateful you are to have them.

Allow them to express their concerns and feelings, as well. It is important to have your family on the same page so that you have a support system in place throughout your treatment, and even afterwards.

This communication is particularly important when it comes to children, as they often have a tendency to internalize issues and blame themselves.

Even when in drug rehab, you can maintain a steady communication with your loved ones by writing letters to them. These letters can contain anything that’s on your mind, from a list of goals you’d like to achieve in addiction treatment to things you want to do when you check out. It could also be as simple as how you’re feeling about the whole situation.

Temporary Arrangements for Kids and Pets

Your next step involves making necessary arrangements to ensure the safety of your family, children or pets while you’re away at drug rehab and unable to parent during your treatment.

Man looking awayTrusted family members, such as grandparents, siblings or close relatives, can be temporary caretakers for the children or pets while the parents receive care for addiction. Even after the addiction treatment is concluded, these family members can continue to provide emotional support for the children.

Such family support is quite common. Living with trusted adults with no history of addiction and a stable home life is essential for children as their parents receive the necessary help.

Certain rehabilitation facilities even accommodate the family members during the addiction intake process, in order to make sure that the family members are prepared for and aware of the responsibilities they will acquire when they accept the caregiving responsibilities for these children.[1]

Why is Family Support Important?

Family understanding and support can play an integral part to assist a patient with issues regarding self-esteem. Positive attitudes and support from loved ones often help motivate the individual work towards recovery.

Family participation, flexibility, and open communication can overcome many barriers associated with drug rehab. This helps the patients to adjust and become more confident in their recovery.

Most treatment facilities encourage family of the addict to come visit at set times and participate in workshops or therapy.

Often, addiction stems from issues within the family, making it essential to explore family dynamics and provide a space for the family to communicate and heal collectively. By tackling core issues, this helps the patient toward long-term sobriety and brings peace for the rest of the family. [2]

Outpatient Addiction Treatment: An Alternative

If the family obligations are of such a nature that are keeping you from getting enrolled in an inpatient treatment program, such as having school-going children, then you do have another option of choosing to participate in outpatient care.

As an alternative to checking into a drug rehab for a predetermined duration of time and asking relatives or friends for caregiving throughout the day and night, you can enlist rehabilitation services during the day and return home in the evening to the family.

There are some drawbacks to such recovery settings. For instance, returning to a routine environment characterized by past drug use every night, exposes the addicted parent to multiple reminders of drug use. If the temptation is too strong for the patient to resist at any given moment, the parent could relapse.

Hence, it is highly recommended that before a decision is made for which care to choose from, they should consult with their doctors to make sure whether outpatient or inpatient care is more relevant for their addiction issue.

Looking Ahead After Drug Rehab

Woman sitting in the grassYou may feel exceedingly overwhelmed, as it may seem like there are a million things that need to get done prior to entering drug rehab. However, it’s important to prioritize to take out some time to enjoy the quality time with your family and pets and loved ones before leaving.

Your family and friends will motivate you to make the most of your addiction treatment and give you confidence for your decision to get help.


Sana Ahmed photoAbout the Author:

A journalist and social media savvy content writer with wide research, print and on-air interview skills, Sana Ahmed has previously worked as staff writer for a renowned rehabilitation institute focusing on mental health and addiction recovery, a content writer for a marketing agency, an editor for a business magazine and been an on-air news broadcaster.

Sana graduated with a Bachelors in Economics and Management from London School of Economics and began a career of research and writing right after. The art of using words to educate, stir emotions, create change and provoke action is at the core of her career, as she strives to develop content and deliver news that matters.



The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on July 25, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 25, 2017
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About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.