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What to Expect from Family Visits

What to Expect from Family Visits - family visitingWhile an initial break in contact is important, visiting your loved one in rehab can be essential to their recovery. So what should you expect for your visit?

When it comes to family visitations, drug and alcohol recovery facilities have different policies. Some centers only allow visitation during a few hours on designated days. Other facilities may only allow very close family members weekend visits. You may also be invited to participate in an educational session about addiction or a family therapy session.

Standard Visitation Policies

  • Visitations are during designated times only.
  • Some facilities restrict visitations until after the blackout period is over. Others will continue to restrict visitations until after the client has met required expectations.
  • In some cases, family visits can only occur if both family members and client agree to family therapy.

It’s important to know the specific requirements for your loved one’s facility. Be sure to check prior to visiting.

Rules for Visitors

In order to ensure that substance abuse recovery facilities remain drug and alcohol free, there are certain rules and regulations for visitors. These rules are established in order to protect the safety and sobriety of clients. It is important to know the rules of the specific facility beforehand.

While every facility is different, here are a few general rules to keep in mind:

  • Visitors are forbidden from bringing alcohol or drugs into any facility—this rule includes unsealed, outside drinks.
  • Visitors and their belongings may be searched upon entering the facility.
  • Visitors may not be allowed in certain areas of the facility, such as the client’s bedroom.
  • Visitors may receive a tour of the facility by a program facilitator in order to give them an overall idea of what the treatment program is like.
  • Joint therapy sessions or an intensive group session may be required as part of your visitation.

How to Prepare for your Visit

One of the most important things to keep in mind before you visit is that your loved one will probably have the tendency to swing between emotional extremes. These feelings could range from excitement or worry to anger or resentment.

This pendulum of emotions is part of the process. While at first you may be alarmed or feel as though you are being attacked, know that these emotions are not necessarily about you.

Following months or even years of substance abuse, users are numbed to even the most banal feelings. When this veil of numbness disappears with sobriety, your loved one now has to face a tidal wave of emotions.

To best steer clear of emotionally upsetting topics, consider this guide of dos and don’ts.


  • Don’t bring up outside drama. Your loved one is dealing with enough stress. Leave the baggage at the door.
  • Don’t show up with an arsenal of questions. It’s true that you will probably be very curious about all the details of your loved one’s stay, but pummeling them with questions will only smother them. Go slow.
  • Don’t talk about weight. Even if you think your loved one looks healthier now that he or she has gained ten or so pounds, mentioning weight gain could potentially infuriate your loved one. Without knowing the precise underlying issues that led your loved one to become addicted, bringing up weight could open an emotional wound.
  • Don’t talk about money. If you are paying for your loved one’s recovery, it is not okay to talk about how much you are paying or how expensive a certain facility is. It is common knowledge that some recovery centers are expensive. Mentioning this fact will only shame your loved one.
  • Don’t try to be funny. Sometimes we find it easier to connect with our loved ones by poking fun at others or at each other, but humor is a complicated emotion. You might think you are coming from a place of light-hearted humor, but there is no guarantee that your loved one will perceive your comments as funny. Humor can hurt.
  • Don’t talk about the future. You may be excited and feel optimistic about the progress of your loved one, but do not bombard them with questions pertaining to the future. Just like bringing up the past, the future carries its own emotional weight. Leave questions concerning post-recovery at the door. Focus on the present.


  • Do be present. Your loved one needs to have your full engagement when you show up. It is better to reschedule than to show up when you are in a state of distraction.
  • Do show up on time. Not only does this show your loved one that he or she can count on you, but time is also important in recovery facilities. Most programs run on a tight schedule and clients’ routines must be kept consistent.
  • Do stick to small talk. Talk about simple subjects like the weather and food. The idea is to avoid sticky subjects that will only add to the stress.
  • Do praise your loved one for their courage and commitment. Don’t go overboard with the praise, but make sure you use genuine words of encouragement.
  • Do meet the staff. In order to gain a more holistic understanding of the recovery process and the facility, it is essential to meet the people who are working with your loved one. Consider that the staff has been there from the beginning of your loved one’s journey. By meeting them, you will feel more intimately involved.

When all else fails, keep it light and keep informed. The more you understand about the recovery process and the facility, the more vital you will be in the success of your loved one’s sobriety. Visit the Fair Oaks website to find out more about our treatment services, including visitation policies, family therapy, and family weekend.

Fair Oaks Recovery Center of california - sacramento alcohol and drug addiction treatment center

If you or someone you love is ready to seek help, please contact the professionals at Fair Oaks Recovery Centers today at (888) 989-9690.