Detox for drugs and alcohol is typically a short period of time. Most people that enter detox to put a stop in their active addiction will be in detox for between a week to two weeks. Even extended stabilization periods to make sure the patient is physically, mentally, and emotionally stable typically last no more than three weeks at most. This is not much shorter than a traditional residential or inpatient addiction treatment model of care, that typically lasts about 28 days. This is a very short period of time, most of it spent by the patient just getting through withdrawals, coming out of the fog, and starting to get their “sea legs.” Two-to-four weeks is little time for someone whose brain has been hijacked to clear up enough to make rational decisions. 


Which is why, during the detox process, family engagement is vital. Unfortunately, for many family members and loved ones, they don’t want to or believe that they need to engage in their loved one’s treatment process. They believe “THEY are the one with the problem” or hope simply that they can send their loved one to detox or rehab to be “fixed” or “cured.” Unfortunately, that is not how detox or treatment works. 


Addiction is a chronic, progressive illness that requires long-term treatment, care, and support. Like other chronic illnesses, it needs to be managed to ensure the best outcomes. Detox is the acute phase, the first step in that long-term process of treatment and recovery. However, with patients often unable or unwilling to make good, healthy decisions for their own care due to still dealing with the impact of drugs and alcohol on their brain and body, it is often left up to the medical and clinical treatment team to work with the family members and loved ones to help plan that patient’s next steps. Most patients, if given the choice, will undoubtedly choose to do as little as possible once detoxed. They’ll state, “I’m good” or “I know what I need to do” or “I don’t need to do that”, in relation to any aftercare. This is where the family must step in.


Family engagement in treatment is vital for two reasons. The first is that families often need to step in and work with the treatment team to set up the best aftercare plan, even if the patient is resistant. Making that choice can be difficult for the families. Boundaries are hard, and families want to believe that their loved one will be capable of finding sobriety and recovery without needing ongoing services. However, the relapse rates for short, acute, episodic treatment demonstrate otherwise. So, parents, spouses, children, friends, and employers are able to get insight and support from the detox and treatment team. The treatment professionals will be able to determine what would be the best aftercare plan for a patient once they leave detox, whether that is residential treatment or inpatient rehab, extended care, an outpatient program like a PHP or IOP, sober living, or outpatient therapy and psychiatry. The family and treatment team can then work together to get the patient onboard for that aftercare plan, even if there is some resistance. Patients will often become angry or resentful at needing ongoing treatment after they detox, but all research dictates in order to be set up for long-term success and sustainable recovery, that is what they need. The treatment team of medical and clinical professionals will be able to educate the family why this is the case, what is the nature of addiction and behaviors that their loved one will exhibit, the emotions involved in the experience, and support them in holding boundaries. 


The second reason that family engagement in treatment is vital is that it helps the family begin to get on their own recovery path. Families can either be large barriers to recovery or they can be their loved one’s biggest asset. Families that get on their own recovery path recover, even if the identified patient suffering from addiction refuses help initially. Families can begin the healing process, and families that engage in recovery often find that their loved one, even if they refuse or are resistant, will often come around and find their individual recovery. A healed family offers a better chance of recovery to the patient suffering from addiction. Therefore, engaging in treatment for the family aids the family members in getting necessary education, awareness, and insight, and places them in the beginning stages of their own recovery path.


Some of the support and resources that detox and treatment professionals can offer families when their loved one is receiving care include:


  • Regular phone calls from the doctors or clinicians to include how their loved one is doing in treatment, clinical updates, or gathering information that will be helpful to their loved one’s treatment experience.
  • Joint phone calls with the doctors or clinicians with both the patient and family members.
  • Collaboration with any professionals also involved in their loved one’s case, such as an interventionist, therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist, often that made the recommendation for treatment. 
  • Referrals to local providers, such as therapists, counselors, or psychiatrists, for the family members.
  • Information regarding professional and peer family or parents support groups local to the family
  • Information regarding local 12-Step groups that support the family, such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon
  • Connections and referrals to other outside treatment professionals, such as a family recovery coach, who can offer additional support for the families.
  • Referrals to aftercare treatment providers, including connections and warm hand off introductions, such as inpatient rehab, residential treatment, extended care treatment centers, outpatient PHP or IOP treatment programs, sober homes, recovery houses, or individual therapists, counselors, or psychiatrists. 


There is little question that a family that engages in their loved one’s treatment experience gives that loved one the best chance at recovery. There is also little question that all families, no matter how healthy, have been negatively impacted by their loved one’s addiction, suffered through that traumatic experience, and need and deserve to find healing. Engagement in treatment for the family helps both the identified patient and the family unit become aware and informed, find support, and ultimately heal.


If you or someone you know needs help with addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at