Who Will Take Care of My Family While I’m in Treatment for an Addiction?

treatment for an addiction

Family is an important and potentially sustaining part of recovery, however, untreated addiction can also greatly affect—and potentially destroy—a family if left untreated. Caring for your family is important but you must first see to the most pressing need of getting professional treatment for an addiction. 

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Taking Care of Children While in Rehab

treatment for an addictionMany parents struggling with addiction avoid seeking treatment for an addiction because they’re worried about who will care for their children and loved ones while they’re away. 

Other people, even if they aren’t parents, may also face the responsibility and anxiety of making arrangements for other dependents while they’re away—such as those who are caregivers for family members of advanced age or living with disabilities. 

While these are normal concerns, they don’t have to be barriers to seeking life-saving treatment


Ensuring your child’s needs are met is a primary concern of any parent seeking addiction treatment. You may be worried that you’ll overburden your partner, or perhaps you’re a single parent wondering what to do. Even worse, some parents may worry that their child might end up in foster care if they can’t find childcare while they attend treatment for an addiction.

Potential solutions for childcare include:

  • Asking someone you know and trust to take care of them, such as a grandparent, trusted friends, or grown up siblings
  • Arranging additional childcare, such as daycare, for when your family member or friend are at work, or dealing with other obligations
  • Finding treatment centers that allow children to stay with parents while they’re in rehab. These facilities also offer support to kids to help them deal with any mental health problems related to their parents addiction. Most facilities of this type serve primarily mothers and young children.

Knowing your children are taken care of is a huge relief for parents seeking recovery. It also allows parents to focus on their treatment so that they can be present in their child’s life when they’ve completed treatment. 


If your spouse or partner is going to be the primary parent or caregiver while you’re in rehab, consider how you can provide support to them. It’s probably fair to say that the relationship may already be strained because of addiction, but remember that you are seeking help and your partner knows that even if they have complex emotions about the change in responsibilities. 

Possible ways to support your partner are:

  • Making a plan before you enter treatment that includes any information your partner may not know 
  • Texting or emailing them to tell them how you are doing
  • Asking for visitation
  • Reminding them how much you appreciate their support and that your treatment is to better your health and your relationship

Providing Support to Your Partner While in Rehab

Many treatment programs encourage partners and family members to attend the treatment center for visits, family sessions, or couples counseling. That’s because family support is critical for long-term recovery. 

Another reason is because treatment for an addiction gives you the opportunity to reflect on any potential harm your addiction might have caused to your relationships. Some programs ask you to make amends, which just means to acknowledge harm and seek to put things right. 

Amends can take several forms and your partner’s feelings and experiences may help shape how you make amends.

Caring for a Pet While in Rehab

Pets are part of the family too and need to be considered when arranging caregivers. If loved ones are taking care of your children, it may be too much to ask to take care of your pet too. Have options to fall back on, such as:

  • Boarding—Many kennels, including the ones at your family vey, offer long-term stays
  • Informal petsitting—If your pet is familiar if a friend or family member, ask if your pet can stay with them to minimize their stress while you’re gone
  • Professional petsitting—Petsitting services can provide temporary or live-in services, as well as individual services like feeding and dog walking
  • Live-in rehabs—Research whether any treatment centers in your area allow pets to stay with their owners

Remember when leaving a pet to have a care package containing their food, detailed feeding instructions noting any medication schedule, poop bags, and your vet’s contact details. 

Notify your vet to ensure they have your credit card information for any pet emergencies so that your pet sitter doesn’t have to foot the bill.

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How to Tell Your Loved Ones You are Entering Rehab

treatment for an addictionHaving made arrangements, the next step is to speak to your loved ones—especially children—about entering treatment for an addiction. Find a time with limited distractions when you are all in a calm state. 

Know that you don’t have to give them all of the information, just that you’re seeking help. General guidelines include:

  • For younger children, you can tell them that you’re not feeling well and need to go away to get better. Remember to tell them that you know that might make them sad, but assure them that you will be back. Don’t use any medical jargon and try to keep it simple.
  • Older children are a little more aware and may ask you more questions. Remember that it’s best to be honest, but you control how much you tell them. You could say that you have been struggling with stress and have been coping in some unhealthy ways. You can explain that you’re seeking professional help to learn some more effective coping strategies so that you won’t feel so stressed all the time
  • Acknowledge complex feelings without placing blame, such as by naming emotions like hurt, fear, and frustration while reassuring your loved ones that it’s not their fault, and you’re going to get better
  • Honestly answer questions as appropriate, limiting any information that could be potentially hurtful.
  • Positively portray treatment for an addiction by explaining that you cannot tackle addiction/the problem on your own and you need a doctor to help. 

There is no right or wrong way to tell your loved ones you’re getting help. Telling your children that you’re taking time to care for yourself is an excellent way of modeling self-care and the importance of mental well-being.

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