How to support while in rehab


My SO has been in treatment for multisubstance addiction. He is nearing the end of his initial treatment program but they have asked him to stay longer because they feel he needs it. He is also being treated for mental illness that has previously gone untreated. So he is going through a lot and I try to be supportive when I have the opportunity to talk to him.

I have known for a long time he needed help but this is his first time at inpatient rehab which steemed from a large argument/incident between himself and me that was the catalyst for family and myself to tell him he needed to seek treatment. I did tell him that we could only make it work if he was sober. He made the decision later that night to go to inpatient.

I also do want to state that I am not a former, current, or future drug user. So although I am supportive and loving and nurturing I do not know first hand his struggles. I can only research as others for guidance (like I am now) and pray for his health and happiness.

When he first checked in he loved me, missed me, i was amazing. He would call me when allowed, wanted me to come visit, ect. Now he is nearing the end of his stay there on the regular program and now he calls less, told the facility I am not allowed to visit, says things like pretty much everything I do makes him anxious, i can never say the right things, he gives me tasks to complete so when he gets out he can “have the life he wants” but when we talk about his future plans I am not really in them unless its a facilitator of task he needs completed. Which leaves me feeling confused as to how I in his mind went from being his amazing girlfriend to now all of a sudden I cause him anxiety but talking to him about him.

Earlier this week he called to tell me he was going to stay the extra time. Last night he calls me and says nope he is not staying because he is good. He did ask what I thought. I told him, i think he is underestimating how hard it will be on the outside, that the medical professionals think he needs more time, that he has told me he has gotten alot out of the program so far, he is still struggling with his mental illness while they try to get him regulated on the new medications, I said with all that information you need to make the decision for you. This is your decision. Well then he started to tell me how I wasnt being helpful and that he needed to talk to his counselor because she is the only one who “gets” him now and that he will call me tomorrow and I better have a better answer as to what I think he should do. I am just baffled.

I don’t know how to deal with the back and forth going on when it pertains to me. I have been trying to see a therapist but in my area theres a 4 - 6 week wait on being able to get in to see someone - just to help me sort everything out. I want him to be happy and sober and live with peace and happiness. They way he goes back and forth makes me feel like I am possibly a trigger for him if i supposedly make him so anxious all the time. I brought him pictures of myself and the kids (we have 5 btwn the 2 of us), and pictures frames and he used to have them on his desk now he says he has taken mine down and brought other ones out. I talked to his sister, which is one of the closest people to him, outside of me, and even she says its really wierd that he is calling less (not calling his 12 year old son either) and refusing to see me and then the way he behaves towards me on the phone and when i went to see him last (he asked me to leave after 15 minutes because he was mad I wouldnt smuggle him in a vape pen). He called me later and apologized but still he calls less and less and usually its to be negative or tell me things I need to for when he gets out.

I know rehab is for the addicts but I also thought they did sessions with the families as well. I want to be a great support to him but I dont know how to navigate the ups and downs and what to do and say to do that.

Does anyone have any advice for me because I am feeling lost and overwhelmed and defeated. I feel like our relationship is over particularly in his mind, which hurts but thats not what I am concerned about. He doesn’t have a lot of sober people or people who genuinely care about him in his life and I don’t just want to walk away even as a friend when he really needs it. I just want to support as much as I can but not make myself insane in the process.

Can anyone give me some advice about what he is going through or if what is going on is to be expected? Why he would be behaving this way? What should i be doing?



Firstly I want to say I’m sorry that you are hurting. I can feel it in your words, I can resonate with you as my boyfriend appeared to have changed his mind about our relationship when he went to rehab in October 2021.

From what I have experienced with my SO is that rehab saved his life. He is willing to do anything to protect his sobriety, especially in these early stages as this is when relapse is at its highest rate and if he does go back to using, he could die. So it’s crucial for him to avoid any distractions until he feels more stable. Unfortunately that meant our relationship suffered and we are now on a break.

It was the last thing I wanted, because I’ve spent all of my time, effort and emotions into supporting him through this illness. I never tried to control or change him, I knew it was a disease that I did not cause. Instead, I was there to support him through his tough times, always there to listen, a shoulder to cry on, company if he ever felt lonely and forever reminding him just how much I loved him. I don’t think I could’ve done any more, and although I know his focus needs to be on recovery and not a relationship - I couldn’t help but think, why me? Aren’t I good enough? Was he only with me so I could be his caretaker? Was it all a lie? … but then I have to remember, his reaction is not about me, it’s about his recovery.

I have to take his word when he said he wished he didn’t have to hurt me by taking this break, because I’ve been all he’s had. But he now has groups of people who can relate to how he truly feels, professionals who have the tools to help and he has a lot of self-work to do. At first I would panic and say he absolutely needs me to be there for support because I’ve been the only constant in his life who didnt judge him, surely he needs me?! But I’ve since come to realise that he doesn’t NEED me to be his minder, he needs to learn to look after himself again and take responsibility for his actions and duties.

We haven’t spoken properly in over 3 months now. I won’t lie, I still miss him like crazy. I hope we manage to work it out in the end. I want the best for us, together. But there’s no way a future is even possible if he dies. This is why early recovery is so scary and tough on the loved ones of addicts, we became obsessed with the person in active addiction, and now we need to unlearn some behaviours too - not just them!

Trust that he will find his own path, you can force it. If it’s a bumpy road, he will navigate it on his own without your help. Believe me, I know it’s hard. But when you take away the responsibility from yourself, and let him carry it… you start to feel free of anxiety and worry.

An addict will do whatever they want because THEY want to, including recovery. Give him that responsibility, and you find things to make yourself happy again. I found it helpful to start exercising, meeting friends and family, Meditation, chilling out with a new series and me-time. Start to find your happiness again, you need to be a secure and strong person you can be for him rather than focus on what you can do for him (that’s his own job!).

You SO changing attitudes towards your relationship will be very confusing. Remember the levels of therapy he has been going through, emotions are very very high so feelings are all over the place. He needs to focus on his recovery, I hope you find your own too.

Please feel free to ask me anything! X