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Can Friends and Family Visit You in Rehab?

Friends and family can usually visit a person in rehab, although many facilities have a “blackout period” during the detox process or early in rehab, during which they don’t allow visitors or only allow them under particular circumstances. This typically won’t be longer than 10 days, usually less, at which point visitation is often permitted.

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Yes, generally speaking, loved ones can visit you in rehab. However, each treatment program has its own set of visitation rules and policies. If it’s important to you that friends and family members be allowed to visit you while you recover from substance addiction, ask the rehab about their visitation rules before enrolling.

And if you want to visit a loved one at rehab, call the rehab to learn more about their policies. Typically, there are rules around when you can visit and for how long. You are also likely not allowed to visit during detox since it can be an unpleasant and unpredictable process. There may also be a black-out period after detox in which the person cannot have visitors because they are still getting acclimated to their new treatment setting and to their schedule.

Why is There Sometimes a Blackout Period in Rehab?

From an outside perspective, the visitation blackout period many rehab facilities have can seem understandably odd. These programs are meant to help people recover from addiction, so why is a person in recovery sometimes prevented from seeing visitors for a time?

Generally, a blackout period exists to allow a person to focus completely on getting through withdrawal and the early days of treatment they need without distractions about friends, family, or other outside matters. Essentially, the idea is that a person needs time for themself. 

A blackout period can also help prevent other people from, intentionally or not, causing someone to quit the recovery process when they may be in their most vulnerable state. 

A blackout period isn’t a punishment or any kind of penance for some perceived wrong. While a person may not be allowed visitors, they receive the full support of facility staff, including psychologists, therapists, nurses, doctors, and beyond. The goal of any blackout period at a reputable facility is to make sure the patient is safe and starts their recovery journey on the right foot, focusing on therapy and early sobriety while adjusting to medications they may be taking.

A blackout period exists to allow a person to focus completely on getting through withdrawal and early days of treatment without distractions.

Who Determines the Length of the Blackout Period?

Blackout periods are determined by the treatment team after evaluating the patient and creating an individualized treatment plan tailored to meet their needs and goals. They will consider many factors, such as:

  • Whether they need medical detox or not
  • Whether they need medications or not
  • Whether they have a co-occurring mental health disorder
  • Whether they previously dropped out of treatment or not
  • The patient’s level of motivation and commitment
  • Whether the family is sober and supportive
  • Whether the family will be involved in treatment or not
  • Whether they entered rehab voluntarily or not

As you can tell, a treatment facility’s visitation policy largely depends on the individual person, their history, and their needs.

Levels of Care and Visitors at Rehab

The amount of visitation and outside interactions a person in recovery is encouraged to engage in usually varies by the type of care they are currently receiving.

  • Detox care: Because detox is usually brief and the person isn’t feeling well, many facilities have a blackout period at this time. Others may limit visitation, judging the circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
  • Inpatient residential care: At this stage, visitation is much more common, although generally kept relatively brief, as the recovery process can still require significant focus and is often an “inward-facing” process.
  • Outpatient care: With outpatient care, an individual can leave a facility to visit others and can generally live their life as they normally would when not at the facility for treatment.

Notably, a person receiving treatment shouldn’t be required to see certain visitors. Some people receiving addiction treatment may have individuals in their lives they don’t want to see or even shouldn’t see because they may not be ready to talk with that person or that person may even encourage destructive behaviors. This can include family members in some cases. 

It is okay not to receive visitors of any kind if you worry it may negatively impact your treatment.

Rehab Visitation Rules

At Boca Recovery Center, we encourage opportunities for family members to participate in their loved one’s treatment and care. Immediately upon the client’s admission to our facility, family contact is facilitated between the clinician and family members identified by the client. When possible, family members remain involved in the treatment process by way of phone calls, regular updates, and also family sessions that are facilitated over the phone. 

Generally, at the detox level of care, the client’s stay is brief (5 to 7 days, typically). Because of the nature of this level of care (medical detoxification), the client is usually not feeling at their best and any deeper clinical work is not going to start until the client transitions to the residential level of care. 

Because detox can be uncomfortable and the stay at this level is brief, family members generally do not visit during that time. However, visitation can still be discussed and permitted on a case-by-case basis.

Once the client has safely detoxed and transitioned to the residential level of care, if and when a family member is able to be physically present, we set up a time for the loved one to come to the facility and participate in a session with the client’s caseload therapist. Usually, the visit will also permit some time for the client to spend time visiting with their family member after the session has been completed. 

The amount of time a family spends in the facility visiting with their loved one is generally kept relatively brief because the focus of this level of treatment (residential) is more about the client working on themselves and addressing issues that oftentimes involve setting healthy boundaries and prioritizing self-care.

At Boca Recovery Center, we pride ourselves on being able to individualize client care and needs, so we are always willing and able to explore different ways in which we can further enhance the client’s recovery experience, where medically sound. We also use the term family broadly, and encourage visitation from those in a person’s life with whom they have healthy, supportive relationships.

Family Involvement in the Treatment Process

When possible, treatment experts generally recommend some level of involvement from family in the addiction treatment process. Family involvement is often associated with better outcomes for the person in recovery, especially when family members are willing to follow expert advice and attend family counseling sessions[1]

A significant part of addiction recovery is the building of a support network that can help a person resist drug abuse in the future. [2] For many people, family can represent one of the best sources of this support, as a person’s family is often full of people who love them, wish to help them, and whom they are in regular contact with.

Benefits of Family Involvement

Having one’s family actively involved in helping them resist drug abuse can provide a person with a reliable, stable group of people to talk with about their issues and seek help from if they feel drawn to abuse drugs. While there are limits to the help any one family member can provide, and while it is possible for some family members to be a toxic force in a person’s life, having a person’s family support their attempts to live a healthier life and assist in their recovery can still be immensely helpful.

Risks of Visitation During Rehab

As beneficial as it can be for the recovering person to have visitors during treatment and as good as your intentions may be, there are still some risks associated with visiting someone. These may include:

  • Stressful or tense family interactions
  • You may accidentally encourage them to come home if they are feeling unmotivated or claim they don’t like it or are cured
  • You may destabilize them if you visit too early or when they are in a vulnerable period
  • You may feel traumatized or upset at seeing your loved one in rehab
  • You may accidentally trigger them

Frequently Asked Questions About Rehab Visitation

What is a rehab black-out period?

It’s a time in which visitors are not allowed at the treatment center, typically because the patient needs time to focus on their withdrawal or early recovery process.

Can I bring gifts for my loved one in rehab?

Contact the rehab to learn about their policy surrounding this. However, it’s safe to say that you cannot bring weapons, drugs, alcohol, or electronics. The care team will inspect any items you bring before you can gift them to your loved one.

What is a good gift for someone in drug rehab?

It depends on the facility’s rules. Photos and memorabilia may help keep someone comfortable while they’re in treatment. You may want to consider books, crossword puzzles, and Sudoku, if these items are allowed.

Can children visit someone in rehab?

Generally, yes. It is a personal decision for the family if they want to involve the child in a loved one’s recovery. Ultimately, it may be helpful and healing if they are able to visit.

How often can you visit someone in alcohol and drug rehab?

It depends on the treatment center. Most rehab programs limit visitors to once or twice per week so that the person can focus on their treatment and recovery.

Profile image for Dr. Alison Tarlow
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Alison Tarlow

Dr. Alison Tarlow is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the States of Florida and Pennsylvania, and a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She has been a practicing psychologist for over 15 years. Sh... Read More

Updated February 7, 2024
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