How to tell loved ones you're going to rehab

By: Jennifer McMillen Smith, MSSA, LISW-S, Division of Infectious Disease and medically reviewed by Ann Avery, Infectious Disease Physician at Metrohealth Medical Center

We’re human and have our issues. No one is perfect. Literally not one person on this planet. Even the most wonderful people in our lives who we cherish have problems. If you think you have a problem and decide to work on it, that’s a clear sign of strength – not a weakness. Say it with me: “I AM STRONG!”❤️ If you’re thinking of going to rehab for an addiction, we hundo p support you and think you are one brave, strong, magnificent person! 👏🏾🙌🏾❤️

Here comes the hard part: telling your friends and family. 😕 People may have a lot of questions about your decision. It’s all good. We want to help you get through that time before going off to rehab. Addiction of all kinds can leave you feeling powerless, and we want you to know you’re taking good care of yourself by seeking support.

You’re not alone!

Let’s face it, your friends and family probably already know something is up with you. They’ve seen your shenanigans for themselves or maybe they helped you fix things before. You’re not fooling them, or anyone for that matter. The people closest to us usually see things in us that we may think we’re hiding from the world. Trust that they want the best for you.❤️ Shoot them a quick text saying that you’re going away to rehab for a few weeks, and you’ll be in touch when you’re ready to talk more. Listen up - We give you permission to give yourself space to make the decision that’s best for you without others adding pressure. Most importantly, trust yourself. You’re going to rehab because you want to break bad habits, and this is the first step even if this isn’t your first time in rehab. YOU GO GIRL! 💪🏾

If you’re going to in-patient rehab, also be sure to talk with your medical provider about getting a 30-day prescription of your HIV meds before you go.

It’s also okay not to tell everyone. Let us say that again… It’s OKAY to NOT tell certain people! It’s 100% up to you who you tell. If you think a friend or family member will be supportive and happy, send them that text. If you think a friend or family member will give you a hard time, you can wait and tell them later when you’re ready on your own terms. It’s perfectly fine to block someone’s number or put them on “Do Not Disturb” on your phone. Speaking of things to do with your phone – time to delete your dealer’s number, babe.

You have options

Sometimes it’s impossible to find a place to go away to rehab for a month. Sometimes people can only get access to detox for a few days and then have to find other options for help.

  • Look up resources on-line to see where you can get a substance abuse assessment in your area. A good place to start is your local alcohol, drug addiction, and mental health services (ADAMHS) board. Here is Cuyahoga County’s in Cleveland OH: The assessment can help you figure out the best option to fit your life.
  • Ask for help in finding the best program for you: There are 12-Step Programs, outpatient treatment programs, Medication-Assisted Treatment (like suboxone, Vivitrol, and methadone to help avoid withdrawal symptoms for opiate addictions), sober houses, and more.

12-Step Programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous, are meant to help you through your addiction toward recovery with a belief in a “higher power” (whatever you believe in). The first step is admitting powerlessness and that your life has become unmanageable. Some people attend 12-step meetings daily and find the community they find there helpful and supportive and a place to build friendships with other people who are trying to stay clean and sober. 12-step programs encourage participants to get a sponsor who had similar addictions who can support you through the 12-steps as you move at your own pace.

This choice is 100% yours!

All of these are options for you. The best approach may be a combo of these choices, but ultimately (unless a judge is involved) the choice is 100% yours.  👏🏾❤️ We encourage you to talk with someone you trust. No matter how upset your people may be about your past drinking or drug use, they ultimately want to see you healthy and doing well, so trust yourself and be confident in your decision to go to rehab or get any other kind of help available. You’re doing the best form of self-care by this. We love you!



More Blogs:





Positive Peers is made possible through a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, HIV/AIDS Bureau Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) Grant to The MetroHealth System. Click here for more information about the SPNS grant initiative.
Positive Peers is a private app for young people living with HIV. Learn how you can earn rewards for your participation.