Writing a letter to someone in rehab

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Writing a letter to a loved one in rehab is not easy. In most cases, when a patient enters rehab, they have left behind strained relationships.  

As a friend or family member, you may worry that communicating with them may lead to an argument. A conversation may result in passive-aggressive remarks, indifference, frustration, sadness, or a deeper conflict. 

Before writing the letter, most relationships are strained due to poor communication.

One of the reasons for this is because drug or alcohol addicts tend to isolate themselves to focus on their addiction. As such, it can be challenging to figure out what to say. 

You need to seek family therapy or individual counselling if you've been dealing with a loved one who is an addict.

This will help you release all the negative feelings such as unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, or indifference that you may have towards your loved one. 

Most alcohol or drug rehab facilities offer professional support to help heal for you and your loved one. The family therapy offered can help you understand your role in the treatment and recovery of your loved one.

Furthermore, it will help heal some of the wounds you may have sustained due to that person's addictive behaviour. 

Most rehab facilities allow you to have limited contact with your loved one in rehab. You may get the opportunity to visit them or call them at a set time. Other facilities have what is called "blackout periods."

During this period, an addict is not allowed to make outside calls. Instead, they are expected to focus on themselves and their healing. 

Whether or not you're allowed to call your loved one in rehab, you should write a letter to them. A letter is a powerful form of communication for several reasons.

A letter is an excellent way to communicate because it: 

  1. It Allows you to communicate concisely without allowing all the negative emotions to take over the conversation. 
  2. You get to say what needs to be said in the best way possible. 
  3. In rehab, your loved one can read or re-read it to fully understand what you're trying to say. 

Challenges of communicating with people struggling with addiction 

Talking to a loved one who is struggling with addiction can be tough. This is because substance abuse alters the brain chemistry and can significantly affect how a person relates with others.

Most people fail to see that drug or alcohol addiction is a disease. 

A person struggling with moderate to full-blown addiction can be harsh to their loved ones. The financial, physical, and emotional consequences of the addiction affect the individual and their friends and family members. 

From the perspective of a loved one, you may be experiencing a flood of conflicting feelings. You may be angry because of your loved one's drug-seeking behaviour.

At the same time, you may experience relief knowing that they are getting help for their addiction. 

It is normal for you to go through these conflicting emotions. But you should not let them hold you back from seeking a healthy relationship with your loved one in rehab. 

Most rehab facilities construct healthy boundaries between their patients and the outside world. As such, they may restrict the use of smartphones, laptops, or access to the internet.  

There are situations where the facility is far away or doesn't allow visitors so that the addict can pay attention to their individual needs.

In such a case, families have no option but to write a letter to show that they are understanding, supportive, and willing to develop constructive communication with their loved one in rehab. 

Writing a letter to your loved one in rehab

A golden rule is to start the letter with love. You may hate the addiction and the actions that they did because of the drugs or alcohol. 

But the letter aims to show them that you still love them and support the decision they took to seek treatment. 

Secondly, you should express forgiveness in the letter. Forgiving your loved ones can motivate them to work towards recovery. It shows them that you understand that what they said or did was because of their addiction.

Moreover, forgiving sets the basis for rebuilding your relationship and communicating effectively. 

Use the letter to encourage your loved ones and build confidence in their recovery journey. No doubt, when your loved one entered a rehab facility, they experienced feelings of shame, helplessness, and defeat.

It's advisable to look for the best encouraging words that will help them build confidence. 

You can do this by: 

  1. Telling them how much you respect them 
  2. Focusing on the best traits and qualities that they have. 
  3. Communicating to them how much you admire their accomplishments and decision to seek addiction treatment. 

Your letter should communicate that you're supportive. Patients going through the treatment process often experience anxiety.

They feel that their loved ones will not understand why they haven't been able to 'get sober.' You may be feeling anxious as well. Maybe the last time you spoke to your loved one, you said a lot of negative stuff. 

You can use the letter as an opportunity to offer support. One way you do this is by looking forward to the future. Talk about doing something together like going for a vacation or taking up a hobby.

Let them know that you're interested in engaging in some activities together. 

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Sample letter to someone in rehab  

Letter #1 

Hey Matt, 

I hope you're doing well. How's the recovery process? Have you made any new friends? 

I can't express how proud I am of you. Choosing to go to rehab is a brave decision. I am glad you did it, and I want you to know that we're still here for you. 

Benson put your picture next to his Superman doll. He is proud of you and can't wait to see you when you get back. 

I know that the path before you is challenging. But difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. Remember the rewards you'll gain once you complete the drug rehab process: a healthy, happy, confident you. 

Stay safe. 

Love, 

Amy. 

This letter is an example of how to show love and support. It highlights affection and hope for the future after treatment. The letter is a great motivator for a person in treatment for drugs or alcohol addiction. 

Letter #2 

Dear Amy, 

It has been a while since we spoke. I felt the need to give you time in your early recovery. I can only imagine how hard the path to a drug-free life is for you. I pray for you every day, and I wish you well. 

Back at home, we are okay, just trying to adjust to life without you. You can say that we are in a bit of a recovery process as well. Every one of us has to heal and move on from all the hurt we caused each other.

Still, we are hopeful and happy, and that's because of you. We are happy that you chose treatment, and we know that when you come back, we shall make up for old times. 

I was thinking maybe a trip to Hawaii when you come back. I remember you telling me about how you'd love to immerse yourself in the aloha spirit. We could go there and relax once you come back.  

If you have another destination in mind, I'll be glad to hear it. I think we both deserve a vacation. 

I know that there are times that you may feel powerless. Maybe there are days when you wonder why you're' going through with treatment.

I cannot begin to imagine the immense pressure and struggle that you're going through. Yet life is like that when you think about it. Everywhere we turn, we are faced with difficult choices.

I advise you to hang in there. Your family and friends are here to cheer you on your path towards long-term recovery. 

I want to say that I know it is tough right now, but everything is going to be okay. Just do your best and believe in yourself. You are doing this for yourself and your family.

Once you're done, we shall be here to welcome you with a great meal plus lots of hugs and kisses. 

Lots of Love, 

Lisa 

The second letter focuses on encouraging words to motivate the person struggling with substance use. It encourages the reader that the relationship they've left behind can still be rekindled.

It also gives hope by showing the reader that there's life after rehab, e.g., the vacation. 

Letter #3 

Dear Peter, 

As a friend, I can't tell you how proud I am of you for seeking treatment. I thought this day would never come.

I am ashamed to say that I gave up on you changing. But you've proven me wrong, and I couldn't be more proud of you. 

No doubt seeking treatment is hard. I wouldn't be surprised if you've blurted some nasty words to the staff.

But it has been two weeks already. I am glad that you're sticking this out, and I am confident that you will complete what you've set out to do. 

This reminds me of that time when you were failing in class. Remember that the teacher told you that you'd have to stop playing for the football team if you didn't perform better.

You worked so hard to pull your grades up, and you did it. Your team members admired you for scoring a B+ after months of getting D's. 

That's the kind of person you are, Peter. When you want something, you focus on it, and you work hard until you get it. 

I am glad that you realized that you need help. I know I said that I never want to talk to you again. But when your family told me that you've gone to rehab, I got so excited because I knew that our friendship still had a chance. 

This road you've chosen, the road to recovery. Yes, it is full of challenges. But when you feel like giving up, you should take a moment to look at all the pain and ugliness that came from substance abuse. 

I want you to look at recovery as a possibility. It is a reality that you can achieve. With recovery comes the opportunity to mend your relationship with your loved ones. I am sure even your dog, Rex, will be glad to see you sober. 

Just hang in there and know that we support you to the end. 

I am looking forward to hanging out with you after treatment. 

Your pal, 

Daniel. 

Letter 3 also works well because it shows support and offers encouragement. This example also attempts to boost the self-confidence of the reader by reminding them of their past success.

The writer also offers advice to the reader to overcome the self-defeating emotions or doubts that may arise in treatment by remembering the consequences that resulted from the abuse. 

Conclusion

Active addiction often leads to poor communication in relationships. Substance abuse leads the individual to isolate themselves as their focal point is their alcohol or drug use. 

Writing a letter is a great way to help your loved one with the healing process. This approach to communication is beneficial because when you write a letter, you get to choose your words carefully.

A phone call, on the other hand, may end up in both of you disagreeing. A letter is also a great way to communicate as your loved one can read and re-read it. 

When you write to your loved one, it's' advisable that you choose encouraging words. Craft a letter that shows you offering support and communicates your love to the patient in rehab.

You can advise them to persist in treatment by pointing out the benefits of recovery. Moreover, you can boost their self-esteem by telling them all the things you love and respect about them. 

Many people find it difficult to understand addiction. Yet, the reality is that addiction is a disease. Working with a professional can help both you and your loved one find healing from the addiction.

Overall, a little understanding can play a key role in the individual's success in recovery. 

Abbeycare Pricing Bot

Last Updated: October 13, 2021

About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Peter 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. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.