Being there for your son or daughter while they transition out of treatment for opioid addiction can seem insurmountable and often heartbreaking. Learn how you can best support them on their journey.
Stay on track. Their treatment facility will prepare them for transition and provide discharge information – reputable treatment centers will continue to be a resource after treatment.
A gradual transition is key. Move them gradually into normal life situations.
Monitor their environment. Relapse can be kicked off by the slightest combination of stress and exposure to an opportunity to use again. Scientists have shown that even exposure to drug paraphernalia can re-trigger a strong urge for the drug. Keep them away from situations that can trigger a relapse.
Manage your expectations. Just as it was a challenge to live with someone in the throes of opioid addiction, there will be challenges on the road to recovery.
Be involved in their activities and actions. Stay aware of their activities and social relationships once they return home. That includes what they do online.
Smaller doses can still be deadly. Be aware that, even after many months of treatment, someone in recovery is extremely vulnerable to relapse. The opioid receptors have been re-sensitized, so a much smaller dose of an opioid drug is now required to have the same effect than while the person was fully addicted. Thus, a much smaller dose is required to overdose.
Remember the signs of addiction and be objective if you think they may have relapsed. Someone in relapse can be very convincing that they are not in relapse. They may not believe it themselves, and be deceptive about their behavior. Hope is not a strategy.
Be cognizant of negative behaviors resurfacing. Recognize that even after recovery, your loved one is still someone with a substance use disorder. Old behaviors can resurface — including shame and be deceptive.
Help them find a peer-supportive home if they need it. Try to find a living environment that is supportive – a halfway house or sober living experience where your loved one can be with people going through the same experience.
Ask them to get tested. Find a way to maintain a testing regimen, as your loved ones’ desire to not let you down may be the one thing that prevents relapse.
Be aggressive. Get them to attend meetings and gain a sponsor.
Take care of yourself. The entire family is now in recovery. Find your own support group.
Hope is not a strategy.”
More Lessons Learned
When They’re YoungSAFE's Lessons Learned gives you suggestions about how to talk to your kids about opioids and substance use disorder.
How to Support Your Friend’s Transition Out of TreatmentSAFE'S Lessons Learned shares how parents, extended family, and friends can help during transitioning out of treatment.
At the First Signs of Substance UseLearn what to look for if you suspect a loved one may be using opioids.