Making a Family Plan

Developing a strategy plan is unique and an individualized process for every family and person involved in any type of recovery process. Below are some things to consider as your family learns to live with the disease of addiction. As mentioned before some changes/modifications will need to be addressed to help the person and family have a successful recovery. (The same is true when a family discovers a member has diabetes... you don’t continue to serve food high in sugar and carbohydrates.)  Our Story

Getting Organized Process:

1. What is involved in the recovery process? Read or reread Recovery Link

2. Gathering your thoughts and things to consider.

3. Putting an action plan together, establishing boundaries and setting goals.

4. Writing a contract

5. Serenity Now


Things to consider:

Initial Thoughts and Actions

Additional Ideas and Actions


Make a contract so everyone knows what is expected (Engage person in recovery to make attainable rules and consequences that work for everyone.)

See Contract link…It will be different, according to your own family situation.


Believer your instincts. A month ago I caught him attempting to forge a prescription.  He told us it was to write a note for his job to verify that he really was sick.  He was in bed six days because he felt nauseated. I thought he suffered from a combination of suboxone and taking stool softeners on an empty stomach.  Two side effects of opiates (to include suboxone) are constipation and feeling nauseated. Since he came home from detox, he would have one good day then two or three bad ones. I didn’t see a red flag when he was in bed. I should have. He had been using for over a month.

Immediately do a drug test. Random testing should be done bi-weekly, or when you feel something isn’t right. He was in tears when we confronted him and said he didn't have the nerve to give it to his boss.  He was already fired at this point. 
Several times I asked him if he was taking oxycodone, and he denied doing so.

This time I am making a chart and he is taking the suboxone in front of me

Cell Phone

I checked his cell phone calls, but not frequently enough.  I still haven't figured out how I missed the calls. Just a month after getting out of detox he called his "doctor" in West Palm Beach.

Check at least weekly. Put software on computer to track sites... keystroke software.


At first I drove him to all his meetings, school and appointments. When he seemed to get into a routine, we let him drive himself.

Keep track of the mileage. Set-up a chart!  Don’t give him or her money for gas. It may be spent on drugs. Fill up the tank yourself or take your child an have them pump the gas. After 5 months I know require him to bring me a receipt.


This didn’t occur to me until one day when I cleaned out his wallet. There were four appoint cards from THAT doctor. Every time he opened his wallet there was a reminder.

Clean out wallet.


He told us he was going to work one day; instead, he drove to West Palm Beach, 3 1/2 hours away, to get drugs. 

We took him to lunch or dinner frequently. This gave us extra time with him and we weren’t giving him money that he could divert it to drugs

 Drop in on him or her at work!



Having money to buy drugs is a problem. He pawned his college electronic equipment, and when put together enough money, he took off.

If he has a job, deposit his checks into an account he doesn’t have access to. (Be careful about this. Talk to your bank.) Require receipts if you give him money for lunch, to go to the store, etc.


& Bath

After his relapse I CLEANED & STRIPPED his room.  He now has two desk drawers and a few books on shelves but nothing else to hide things in.

Clean the room and strip the bed before the addict moves in. In the days after the cleaning, objectively look at his bedroom and bathroom often.  There were white dust and powder particles on his sheets and bathroom carpet, and blood spots on the bathroom walls.  I tried to give him privacy and didn't go into his bathroom. ANOTHER BIG MISTAKE.


I cleaned all his clothes. I checked the pockets of his pants and sweatshirts. I emptied the closet.

He now has five days worth of clothes and a couple of pairs of shoes

T.V. and computer

I knew we should have removed them before he got home from detox but I believed he needed his independence and privacy. Besides, I told myself, they had been in his room before he went to college.


Both are now gone, and he will be watching TV with the family. After two weeks, we set up his computer—in our family area.

Also, install “keystroke” software on the addict’s computer. Go to Google to see the various software programs offered that allow a person to view everything another did on the computer.  This can be installed without the addict knowing about it, if you wish. This is what I have done

Physical appearance

If nose started bleeding.   Beware may not be typical nose bleed. 




We changed our doorknob on our bedroom to a key & lock knob.

He doesn’t have keys to our house.


We had lived here for only two years before he left for college, yet when he first came home from detox he said he wanted to contact some friends. He had no friends in our neighborhood. Another missed signal!

Once he started using again, he was content to stay in his room.

Other possible 

Look for flakes or ashes in car if person is smoking and/or inhaling.



Person stops complaining about not sleeping well and being constipation.

These things that used to be so painful and upsetting no longer matter. That’s because they no longer feel the pain.


Velcro tape

Can be used to hide things under chairs, beds, shelves and other places.


Q-Tips/Cotton Balls

He used cotton as filter for injecting.


We had also been missing an ice cream scoop.

He was using it to crush his drugs and melt them.

Don’t overlook anything.

Back to TOP

   If you or your family have been using the same approach when trying to help a person with an addiction and nothing seems to be improving maybe it is time to make some changes and develop a new strategy.
  Working together to compile a list of desired goals and a strategy/action plan will help the family to better understand other member’s personal concerns, frustration and struggles with respect to the person in recovery. It will also help to ensure that everyone is “on the same page” and understands what is expected of each member during this recovery process.

Putting an action plan together, establishing boundaries and setting goals
For families begin by listing some things that have caused you stress or that you would like to change. Have you been doing the same thing and expecting different results? Often putting your thoughts and ideas on paper is a good way to begin to develop a recovery plan. This may take several days to get a final plan written and may continue to need modifying as the family works through the recovery process.

What are some goals? Typically, the long-term goal is to help the person in recovery learn to make good/rational decisions to lead a healthy life. For the family it may be to lead a less stressful and hectic life. These goals may seem overwhelming and almost impossible so beginning with small attainable goals may prove to be a more successful and beneficial approach.

 Click here for a guideline for a developing a family plan.

 Click here for a detailed guideline of a sample personal plan. 

Possibly give your strategy a title: “Strategy for Sanity,”  “Together We Win,” “Making Positive Changes,”.... something that fits your family and begin the planning process. Write down the goals then prioritizes each one. You may find that some goals are more crucial than others and need to take first priority but write them all down.

 As progress is made new goals may be added and some goals may need to be modified. If the person and/or family is not progressing as desired (review your goals). Better defined goals and/or a new strategy may be necessary. Working with a family therapist may be the best way to determine/establish these goal and your action plan. Utilizing a professional provides many attributes that a family does not offer such as skill, knowledge and experience and most importantly objectivity.  

Back to TOP

Writing a contract has many useful purposes. It helps to establish goals (short-term & long-term) for the person attempting to recover, it spells out specific and detailed expectations, adds structure to everyone’s life and most importantly it helps prevent idle time. Too much free time often results in a person resorting back to past patterns. Remember consistency and following through on consequences is a key to a successful recovery.

In the beginning the person may be suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms. (Minor symptoms may last on and off for months.) Establishing a routine and setting the expectations for success early in recovery is important.

Each family’s contract will be different.  Sample contract. Some of the items will not apply to your family, and you may want to include other items.  The goal here is to help the person begin to lead a balanced life - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Reiterate that the goal is to help a person have a success healthy recovery.

Back to TOP

Serenity Now
You may feel all alone, helpless and hopeless... I assure you neither is true...
I hope this website has given you some useful information and may this letter help you see that you are not alone. A parent sent this venting her frustration. When I read this I laughed... that’s my life. Better that than cry.

Serenity Now

I know we have to take the necessary steps to protect our children --
We educate our children-- teach them to respect themselves and others...
They should be thanking people who offer them help,
apologizing for a wrongdoing,
they should respect others property and privacy
-- we teach them all this as the grow...

I resent to this day that ALL my jewelry and valuables are locked in a safe deposit box,
that my computer requires a multiple password to gain access,
that my pocketbook requires me as a bed partner,
that my car keys are on a chain around my neck
- I still have my child proof locks on my cabinets
(Ironically because I thought I would someday be entertaining a grandchild...joke is on me.)

I have no poisonous plants in my home, my home is lead free,
radon free (practically sterile- my husband is OCD over cleanliness).
My soaps are fragrant free.
Dead bolts on the front and back doors,
tempered glass on my window, safety guards on the lawn mower....
I am safer than the Pope!!!

Yet, my child is and addict....
Now, I have to lock my medicine cabinets -- hide the key and remember where I hid it????
Its no wonder Alzheimer's is looking good to me ....

I guess what I am saying is --where are the days when putting
dangerous medications and chemicals out of reach was being a good parent
-- Now if you don't have dead bolts on your cabinets,
you are going to be considered irresponsible???

I just just had to vent .....
Serenity, Courage and Wisdom...

Recently I came across a blog “Addiction Journal” that may be useful and comforting.

Other Poems