Caring for Loved Ones While You’re in Rehab
It’s normal to be concerned about your children, spouse or pets when you’re in rehab, but there are many ways to ensure they’re taken care of while you are in treatment.
What Will Happen to My Loved Ones?
One of the biggest concerns for people who need addiction treatment is their family — where they’ll stay, how they can make ends meet financially and whether they can stay in touch during treatment. These obstacles can be overcome, and knowing your options can empower you to make the best choice for you and your family.
If you plan carefully and ask for help before starting rehab, your family will be more than taken care of during your treatment.
Child Care Options for those in Rehab
If you’re a parent considering rehab, finding a trusted caregiver for your kids can be difficult. However, there are several child care options available while you’re in treatment.
The best choice is often someone close to the family whom your children already know and are comfortable with. Many parents in rehab ask for help from their:
- Significant other
- Close friends
Get started on the road to recovery.
If these people have other obligations (work, school, etc.), daytime child care may help bridge the gap. Some treatment centers also offer child care services or can connect you to local child care resources.
If you’re a single mom or dad, some treatment centers allow your kids to stay with you in rehab. These programs not only treat the parent’s addiction, but also treat the child for any related mental health issues.
How to Talk to Your Child About Going to Rehab
Talking to your child about your addiction and why you’re going to rehab is important. It will help them understand and cope with your absence. It will also help them realize they’re not to blame.
Some guidelines to follow when talking to your children are:
- Educate yourself about addiction and rehab. The more you know, the easier it will be to explain.
- Speak in an age-appropriate language they’ll understand. Leave out the medical jargon.
- Pick the right time to have the conversation. A calm environment with minimal distractions is ideal.
- Acknowledge their feelings and the impact your addiction has had on them. Apologize if you’ve hurt them.
- Be honest and open to questions.
- Make sure you emphasize that your problem is not their fault and they cannot control your behavior.
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics created the “Seven Cs” to teach children how to deal with a parent’s drug or alcohol use. Children are encouraged to memorize the “Seven Cs”to remind them that they’re not the cause of the problem. It also gives them tips for how to cope with their parent’s addiction.
See how Jerry
The “Seven Cs” for Your Child to Remember
- I didn’t cause it.
- I can’t cure it.
- I can’t control it.
- I can take better care of myself
- By communicating my feelings,
- Making healthy choices and
- Celebrating me.
Source: The National Association for Children of Alcoholics.
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Nonprofit and Government Child Care Options
If you don’t have family or friends that can help watch your children, there are other options. One is non-governmental, volunteer-based organizations like Safe Families for Children. These organizations find temporary homes for children whose parents are unable to care for them. The Safe Families for Children program carefully screens its volunteer families, ensuring your children will be safe and cared for. These programs allow biological parents to maintain custody during and after treatment.
If you can’t find a program that fits your family’s needs, voluntary placement in foster care may be available in your state. This is often a last resort option.
If you choose to place your child in foster care, you will have to sign a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA). By doing so, you agree to temporarily transfer the care and custody of your child to the Department of Children’s Services. You may be responsible for paying child support each month.
Going this route is understandably scary, but it is an option. Just make sure you stay committed to the terms of the VPA and attend any required court hearings. Remember: getting sober is the best thing you can do for yourself and your child.
Pet Care Options for Rehab
Pets are an important member of many families. Like addicts with children, those with pets often struggle to find an appropriate caregiver. If family or friends are unable to take care of your pet while you’re in rehab, there are several other options.
Longterm boarding is available at most boarding facilities, but lengthy stays can get expensive. A pet sitter may be a cheaper option for pets that require minimal care, like cats, fish and rodents. Pet sitters come to your home a specified number of times each day or week to perform care duties. Some will even let your pets live at their home until you return. This is ideal for dogs and other animals that need more attention.
If someone else is watching your pet while you’re in rehab, make sure you leave them with detailed care instructions, emergency contact info (your vet or animal clinic) and your pet’s medical records. Be sure to tell your vet that your pet will be in the care of another person for the length of your program.
If parting with your pet is absolutely not an option, some treatment centers allow patients to bring their pets with them. While this practice is becoming more popular, pet-friendly rehabs are still uncommon. You may have to travel to another city or state to find a program. If you can’t find a center that allows your pet to stay with you, you’ll likely be able to find one that allows pets during visitation hours.
Visitation with Loved Ones During Rehab
Most programs consider loved ones an integral part of your treatment plan and their support will be very important to your recovery.
To help you adjust, visitors and any form of communication (email, phone calls, etc.) are typically not allowed for a period of 3-7 days after your arrival.
Once the initial waiting period is over, most rehabs offer visitation hours.
Visitors may have to be approved by a counselor and added to a visitors list in order to see you. Check your center’s policies to ensure your loved ones meet the necessary requirements for visitation.
Communicating With Your Loved Ones from Rehab
There are several ways to communicate with your loved ones while in rehab. It varies by program, but most centers allow phone and internet use (email) during designated times. You can also mail and receive letters.
Some facilities allow your loved ones to send care packages. However, they will likely be opened by staff beforehand for safety purposes. Check with your rehab’s administration to find out what items are prohibited in care packages.
Family therapy may also be available. In most cases of addiction, your loved ones are affected by the disease, too. These sessions allow for recognition of everyone’s feelings and healing by all.
Financial Help for Your Family During Treatment
The cost of addiction treatment can be a financial burden, especially if your family loses a source of income while you’re in rehab. There are several ways you can reduce financial problems down the road, including:
- Talk with your employer about using your remaining paid time off and sick days. If you have enough saved up, you’ll still receive a paycheck for some, if not all, of your time in treatment.
- Ask for help from your friends and family. You’ll be surprised by how many people are willing to donate toward treatment costs or your family’s living expenses.
- Check with your health insurance company to see if they’ll cover part of your treatment. Medicaid/Medicare and the Affordable Care Act offer options to help pay for addiction treatment. You can also ask your employer if they offer short-term disability and, if so, if the policy covers drug and alcohol rehabilitation. These options may help to reduce overall costs.
- See if your treatment center offers payment plans or financing to make payments more manageable.
In the event that your family gets behind on bills while you’re in rehab, try calling your creditors to ask for an extension or to change the due date for your payments. Many people can relate to addiction and will applaud your decision to get sober, so they may be willing to work with you.
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Addiction Treatment is the Best Option for You and Your Loved Ones
Your concerns about going to rehab and being away from your loved ones are completely valid. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t share these feelings when they were entering treatment. But you can’t let these worries prevent you from getting the help you need. In the end, your sobriety will be the best option for both you and your loved ones.
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