What to Expect: Families FAQ

It can be hard to know how you can assist your loved one during and following treatment. Fortunately, River Oaks is dedicated to being a transparent facility where patients and family members can communicate if they so choose and where we are happy to help you learn how to take an active role in recovery for both yourself and your loved one.

What Will My Loved One’s Treatment Entail?

Couple hugging on beach during family visit at treatment center

Treatment at River Oaks is made up of a day-to-day schedule of therapeutic services and activities. The day begins at 6 am, with programming ending at 8:30 pm.

Your loved one will attend groups and individual therapy sessions driven by licensed therapists. Much of this time is spent helping your loved one learn about the disease of addiction as well as any co-occurring disorders they may have.

In addition, we offer plenty of activities throughout the day that foster healthy expression and connection with others, such as art and recreational therapy, health and wellness groups, and 12-step meetings both on and off-site.

All during your loved one’s time in treatment, they’ll be working with their team to develop an aftercare plan for steps to take when they come home so that you’ll both be prepared.

Do You Allow Phone Calls?

To ensure a safe and therapeutic environment and protect our patients’ privacy, cell phones and other electronic devices may be restricted during certain levels of care and treatment times. To learn more, please visit our cell phone and electronics use policy page.

River Oaks allows patients access to their cell phones and technology during assigned times outside of groups and activities. The time allotted to use these devices increases as your loved one progresses through treatment.

For clients who do not have a cellphone or technological device, we provide access to landlines during the same times that cell phone use is allowed.

If you are not hearing from your loved one, we understand that this can be frustrating. In some cases, individuals in treatment choose not to contact their loved ones, as going through addiction treatment can be difficult.

If you are worried, you may contact us directly at 813-605-3900. However, we can only release information to you if your loved one has signed a release of information (ROI) form and you are specifically mentioned on the form. If not, we won’t be able to provide any updates.

You may email any concerns you have to riveroaksclientconcerns@contactaac.com.

Can I Bring Gifts or Items to My Loved One?

Yes, you may bring gifts to the facility, but please do not bring any outside food or drinks of any kind.

Even though we provide the necessary items at our facility, alcohol-free hygiene items are appreciated, as many clients prefer to have their own brand of shampoo or deodorant, for instance.

Items may be sent care of the client’s name to River Oaks. All items are checked in at the front desk. Due to the sensitive nature of rehab, all items will be searched.

What Is My Role?

More than anything, the role of a family member in helping a loved one with addiction is to support them in their recovery. Your loved one will benefit from knowing you are there from them as they go through treatment.

However, we also know deep emotions and anger are common among family members and loved ones. Because of this, it is also important for you to begin to deal with these emotions while also attempting to understand the disease of addiction.

Programs like family and couples therapy—both of which are offered at River Oaks—can help you work toward healing the relationships that have been ravaged by addiction. Meetings with a licensed marriage and family therapist can be set up through your loved one’s primary therapist. These family sessions can be conducted virtually or in-person.

River Oaks also offers a family program once a week that is led by one of our licensed therapists. This is an educational program that helps family members and loved ones understand the disease of addiction, including how substances affect the brain and how substance use disorder affects family systems.

Family Visits

At River Oaks, we offer visitation every weekend for family members to see their loved ones in treatment:

  • Saturdays: female patients may receive visitors.
  • Sundays: male patients may receive visitors.

Visitation privileges begin 7 days after admission. Visiting times are listed on the weekly program schedule.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some family programs may not be operational. Visits may be delayed or may involve additional precautions. 

Getting to the Facility

The nearest airport to our facility is the Tampa International Airport (TPA), which is about 25 miles away, or a 45-minute drive from our facility. Public transportation options include the Route 24 Limited Express (bus line). Other travel information can be found here.

Can I Skype with My Loved One in Treatment?

If you are unable to visit the facility due to distance or another reason, Skype may be an option. This option will need to be discussed with your loved one’s therapist, as it may not work for every patient.

Supporting Without Enabling

As a family member or loved one of someone in treatment at River Oaks, your actions are important. We ask that you provide ongoing support for your loved one in their recovery, while also understanding that they may need time and distance to do the hard work.

Treatment for addiction can be life-changing, and it can also be very difficult at times. Your loved one may experience some discomfort, especially when they first arrive. They may find many reasons to leave early and repeatedly ask for your help in doing so.

Supporting your loved one may mean lovingly disconnecting for some time to give them the chance to orient themselves to the program and begin feeling the benefits of life in recovery.

When Your Loved One Leaves River Oaks

Your loved one is doing a lot of work in treatment and will face several challenges in the transition back into an unstructured environment. At River Oaks, we understand this and work to make this transition a smoother one. We also count on families to support their loved ones in their recovery efforts after rehab ends.

What Is the Discharge Process?

At River Oaks, no one is put out on the street after treatment ends. We do not leave your loved one without a planned aftercare program. Every client leaves with a detailed aftercare plan.

Aftercare is a step-down process that does not require you — as a family member — to find programs that suit the client’s needs. In fact, we work to arrange aftercare programs for each and every client through our case management team. However, we encourage you to understand your loved one’s plan and offer support in following it.

Your loved one’s discharge plan will be discussed with them regularly while they are still in treatment. We will also be able to discuss it with you if your loved one signs a release of information (or ROI) form, requesting that we share this information with you.

Ways to Support Your Loved One

You are likely focused on how you’ll be able to best support your loved one after their treatment has ended. It is important to be aware of how your loved one will require support, but you must also think of yourself and your needs to help both you and your loved one. Here are a few things to consider.

  • Be empathetic and nonjudgmental. When your loved one returns from treatment, they will need you to show them that you care about them and that you do not judge them for getting help. Rather, express to them how proud you are that they took the steps needed to begin their recovery.
  • Be supportive. Make sure to provide not just logistical support but emotional support to your loved one. They need you now more than ever as a source of acceptance, love, and kindness, as it may be difficult for them to feel these things about themselves. Addiction leads people to do many things they aren’t proud of, and they may think of these often, shaming themselves for things they did while influenced by drugs or alcohol. Your consistent emotional support may help them restore their self-esteem, let go of shame, and move forward in their recovery.
  • Keep your boundaries and make consequences clear. While you want to show your loved one support, you will also need to set clear boundaries, so you do not end up enabling your loved one or end up slipping into old destructive habits.
  • Consider getting help for yourself. One of the best ways that you can help your loved one is to help yourself. Professional therapy as well as attending Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings are great ways to work through your own feelings about their addiction and start to heal.

Understand the Nature of Relapse

Relapse is a part of many people’s journey to recovery. This is why a relapse should not be seen as a failure. You can be helpful by supporting your loved one’s journey and by being realistic about the possibility of relapse. Discussing relapse with your loved one can help as well.

Still, this does not mean you can’t help them avoid relapse as much as possible. For example, you will want to avoid any temptations by removing all alcohol or drugs from your home before your loved one arrives.

Another great way to help a loved one avoid relapse is to watch for warning signs of impending relapse and to get your loved one connected to support immediately if you notice them. These can include many of the same behaviors your loved one may have participated in when they started using drugs, including withdrawing from relationships with sober friends, taking money or medications from you or others, new problems at work, etc.

Stay Involved

Addiction is often called a “family disease” because its impact reaches into the network of the addicted individual, causing distress and fear among those who love them. If you love someone who has struggled with addiction, you are likely to have experienced a consistently high level of stress and may feel that your relationship is straining.

Therapy with your loved one can help you address lingering issues appropriately and learn to deal with emerging issues in healthier, more constructive ways.

At River Oaks, we provide aftercare options to every client, so making sure your loved one becomes involved in these — and involving yourself in them as well — is a great way to help prevent relapse and keep your friend, significant other, or family member on the right track.

Attending to Your Own Needs

Addiction can be as stressful and traumatic for family members as it is for the addicted person. It can take a toll on your health, your job, and your finances.

As stated above, it is important to learn to set healthy boundaries and to support yourself as well as your loved one. Attending therapy on your own can help you learn to set these boundaries and let go of any guilt and shame you may be holding onto concerning your loved one’s addiction.

We recommend seeking out groups near you where you can get support from those going through similar struggles. One of these is Al-Anon, an off-shoot of Alcoholics Anonymous that is specifically designed to help the loved ones of alcoholics.

Nar-Anon and Co-Dependents Anonymous are two other groups focused on helping the loved ones of drug addicts and co-dependents, respectively.

In addition, seeking professional therapy is an important option for individuals adjusting to loved ones with addictions who are ready to return home.

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