Should I let my son return home after rehab?


I discovered my son was addicted to Oxycontin when he was kicked out of college for failing too many classes. Fortunately, we were able to talk him into going to rehab and, three weeks later, he seems like his old self again. I'm so relieved! He's begging us to let him come home, but his counselor thinks he should stay there and go to intensive outpatient. What should we do?

Confused Mom

Dear Confused,

I'm afraid I have to agree with your counselor.  I'm really happy for you (and for him) that your son is doing so well, but three weeks is a short period of time to be in recovery before returning to the "people, places and things" that may trigger him to use again.  

There's a strong correlation between the length of time someone stays in treatment and the likelihood they'll not be using drugs or alcohol a year later:

Patients with longer treatment stays are more likely to recover

According to this, if your son attends outpatient treatment for the next two months, he's almost twice as likely to be doing well a year from now than if he comes home now.  Vista's research also shows that he's much more likely to be doing well a year from now if he finishes all of the treatment his rehab recommends rather than leaving after completing the residential level of care.

Your son is probably quite confident that he can go home and not use again, and I know how badly you want to believe him.  But I am reminded of something the counselors at my daughter's first Family Week kept telling us: "Don't believe your son or daughter knows what's best for them.  Remember, it's their thinking that got them here in the first place!" 

If you let him come home now, you are taking a risk.  If he talks you into it or you can't afford additional treatment, all is not lost.  It would become that much more important to help your son create a strong recovery support network as soon as he gets home.  

I hope this helps.  Please keep me posted on how your son is doing.


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