Can I Visit A Loved One During Rehab?

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Visitors in Rehab Clinics

The issue of visitors during the rehab treatment is a little tricky and must be handled with care at all times.

Most patients will decline treatment in a residential clinic out of fear that they will not be allowed to see their loved ones for the entire duration of their time in alcohol rehab.

Clinic operators and therapists understand this, and that is why they do their best to make arrangements that are feasible for both the patient and the family members.

Now, before looking at the specifics of visitors and rehab clinics, you must understand that each clinic has its operational guidelines that must be adhered to.

These rules are usually for the benefit of their patients. They typically specify whether or not a visitor will be allowed, which visitors will be allowed, and when they are allowed to visit.

In this review, we give you some basics of visitation and the policies that need to be followed for this to work.

Can I Visit A Loved One During Alcohol Rehab?

It depends on the clinic.

Although the alcohol rehab centre is far from friends and family, they should visit their loved ones.

This will help in restoring relationships and establishing healthy communication lines.

Different rehab clinics have different visitation procedures. Most of them do not allow contact from family members during the first week of treatment to enable the patient to settle down into the program without any pressures from the outside.

If a clinic allows visitation, it will have specific and designated visiting times when family members can visit their loved ones.

This is usually combined with some family therapy sessions, which are generally of great benefit to the families.

Some clinics will even provide on-site accommodations for the visiting family.

What About Telephone Calls?

Yes. Telephone calls are available to patients while they are receiving treatment in the in-patient rehab centre.

What are Rehab Centres Dos and Don’ts while Visiting?

No matter how simple it is, the decision to complete a rehab treatment is not an easy one, and this is a big step for the patient.

While they are in Rehab, you will want to visit them, and family members visiting patients in Rehab is never an easy thing.

It can take a toll on the recovering addict, and this emotional roller coaster could negatively affect them.

When everything has been arranged, you are ready, and the patient is prepared to be visited, you need to know what you CAN and CANNOT do during the visit.

What are the Don’ts?

Do Not Bring Negativity to the Rehab

This is one of the most important things to keep in mind. And a critical DON’T.

The patient in the rehab clinic has already been through some negative times, and their seeking treatment means that they wish to put it all behind them.

Do not remind them of the mistakes they made while intoxicated, do not remind them of their neglected obligations, do not remind them of the pain they inflicted on you, and many other things they may have done.

This will be detrimental to their progress. Taking the step to enter Rehab means that they finally wish to have their lives in order and seek help.

Encourage them through and through, and let them know that they will find excellent support at home once released from the rehab clinic.

Don’t Talk About Money

Attending a rehab clinic is expensive. Even though the treatment is affordable to the family, the addict will always feel guilty about how much money is spent on them to get better.

Mentioning money will negatively affect them, and feelings of guilt are not suitable for recovering alcoholics.

Keep the conversations away from money matters, and if they happen to mention it, downplay it and reassure them that there is no problem at all.

Treatment and sobriety are the most important things for the family, and money should not be a problem.

Don’t Talk About the Future

It is wise to keep the addict in the present. Do not talk about the future and what they will be doing to recover their lost time.

Any talk about what they will do or where they will go after their Rehab is not good. It is also too soon to talk about this before they complete their rehab treatment.

The reason behind this is that any talks of the future will only build on the already existing anxiety and stress. Please allow them to focus on the present and their sobriety.

Don’t Talk About Their Weight

An addict will either experience weight gain or loss. This is normal, as the body goes through a lot during the substance abuse period.

Talking about their weight, which is probably an issue to them, will not help much, and really, should not be done.

If you have to, compliment them on how great they look, regardless of whether they look good or not.

This is because you do not know their exact feelings about their bodies, and commenting in any negative way will embarrass them and cause their progress to be derailed.

Don’t Pressurize Them

Do not apply any pressure on them during your visit. They are already under pressure due to the amount of damage they may have caused due to their drinking.

This could be personal damage, financial damage, employment damage, etc.

Please do not bring these things up and apply pressure on them in any way. Treatment takes time, and right now, the most important thing is to ensure that they GET BETTER.

What are the Dos?

Do Get There On Time

Arrive on time for the visit. While at the clinic, routine is an essential part of treatment, and the facility is run on a schedule.

This requires the family members to visit within a stipulated time, and if you arrive too early or too late, you will destabilize the schedule.

The patient will also be extremely anxious to see you, so do not disappoint them by being late.

Do Ensure To Applaud Them

Please make a point of applauding their progress so far and encouraging them for the hard work they are doing to get better and even their decision to seek treatment.

This will show the recovering addict that you are supportive, and encouraging them will cause them to want to keep with the program.

Do Talk To the Staff at the Clinic

Take time to meet and introduce yourself to the staff taking care of your loved one. Keep yourself in the process and get to know the people working so hard to ensure that they are healthy and sober.

Be sure to ask some questions you may have on the patient's progress and when they are likely to leave the clinic.

Do Discuss General Stuff

The best conversation ideas at this point are news events and the weather. Keeping the conversations light will keep the visit from spiralling into an argument or something that would agitate the addict.

Just enjoy being there and in their company and keep everything as casual as you possibly can.

Do Bring Something Both of You Can Share

You may want to bring along something you can both share. For example, you could bring some family photos, a funny movie, or their favourite snack.

Having a piece of the outside will be a wonderful gift for them.

Why Do Patients Desire to Be Visited?

This is normal. The patients in Rehab usually leave family members behind whom they would love to see again.

They provide encouragement and comfort during the dark days of alcohol rehab, and it would be an issue of concern if the addict did not wish to be visited.

What most addicts do not know is that their addictive behaviour affects the entire family.

They may not see how unhealthy their family relationship is while they are high, and the clinical staff and therapists must do the hard work of balancing their family’s health before they go back home.

What Are The Dangers Of Allowing Visitors In The Rehab Clinic?

Family members may seem helpful to the loved one, but they could also be extremely dangerous.

For example, these could be the same family members who enabled the addict to become addicted to alcohol.

Enabling refers to the attitude or actions that friends and loved ones do that encourages the addictive behaviour to continue.

One way that this manifests itself is through making excuses for the addict like “he cannot help it, and he is going through a rough time.”

These excuses only make it hard for the addict, and they start believing that they cannot live without their alcohol.

During visits, if these thoughts come out, then they could start to undo the work that the clinic has been doing. It is unbelievable just how much damage this can do to an alcoholic trying to get help.

Another danger that visitors pose is that some of them may not get along with the patient.

For example, if the wife is angry due to the husband’s drunkenness, they may project this during the visit and disrupt the treatment process.

What Are Some Guidelines For Visitors?

Allowing visitors have both benefits as well as dangers. A residential rehab clinic will have some guidelines that visitors must follow, and these include the following:

Approval

In almost all rehabs, the visitor needs to be approved by the doctor handling the specific patient before they can visit.

The doctor is the most qualified person to know whether or not the visit will be damaging or beneficial to the patient.

Without their approval, nobody should visit.

Scheduling

One of the essential parts of recovery is having and maintaining schedules. The clinic has a highly structured system that is necessary for the alcoholic to measure their self-control.

For this reason, the clinic only allows visits on specific days of the week and within particular times.

Time Limits

Scheduling goes with timings. The visitors are not allowed to come in at any time, and they must adhere to the set times.

When the time is over, they must end the visit and leave the addict to continue their treatment.

Environment

The patients live in a controlled environment, and the visitors and patients must stay within the area under the monitoring of the clinical staff and therapists.

This confinement helps to control their conversations and visit and ensures that nothing gets out of hand at any time.

Must We Have Family Counselling During The Visit?

This is something else to consider—Family Counselling.

Some of the best in-patient programs usually recognize the effects alcohol has on the family as a whole.

Here’s how it works:

  • The family undergoes a separate counselling session in the first few weeks of recovery.
  • The family gets invited to join the addict for the joint counselling sessions.
  • The family is encouraged to seek aftercare tips while the addict is in therapy.
  • The family participates in the aftercare programs with the addict when they are back home.

The guidelines for this are different from one clinic to another, and this is something you must enquire about with the clinic before you enrol your loved one.

Conclusion

The most important thing for an addict is recovery. As such, you must follow all the regulations and guidelines laid out by the rehab centre.

Strictly follow the Dos we have outlined above and avoid the Don’ts. Allow the clinic staff and therapists to help your loved one and do not interrupt the process.

If the addict is in a clinic that does not allow visitors, though hard, you must accept their rules as they have the patient’s best interests at heart.

About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Pete has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. To read more about Pete visit his LinkedIn profile.