Going Home and “Cleaning House” After Treatment

Man packing moving boxes
Treatment for drug and alcohol addiction is not often planned for. People who are required to attend state or county funded programs due to a lack of insurance, lack of financial support, or mandate from a court system, often have to face a waiting list of 40 days or more. Private treatment programs take all kinds of insurance and frequently offer scholarships and rarely have a waiting list over 1 to 2 weeks. Planning for treatment is not like planning for a vacation. Often, the decision is last minute, hurried, and desperate. Getting yourself or a loved one to treatment is usually an as soon as possible situation. There isn’t much time for cleaning the home, creating organization, or more importantly, getting rid of every last drink or drug.


Most addicts and alcoholics find creativity in their active addiction. Drugs and alcohol are hidden and stored in all kinds of imaginable and unimaginable places around the house. Unless someone in recovery has a devoted and willing loved one to thoroughly scan the house to clean it out, the job is left undone. Having to terminate leases, pack up, move out, or just return home and start life anew, eventually, those in recovery have to go home. Upon returning they are greeted with what is called the “wreckage of the past”- the condition they left the home in and the potentially copious amounts of drugs and alcohol they left behind. For many in recovery, this experience can come too early and is triggering. Without having thoroughly practiced and integrated their relapse prevention skills which arm them against choosing drugs and alcohol, they are vulnerable to the substances around them. Too many people go home, find drugs, and promptly use them. There is, however, a way to go home, clean house, and leave sober.


Bring a sober or supportive friend

Going home alone to confront the leftovers of your addiction is a setup for difficult challenges. If possible bring a sober friend, supportive family member, or a paid sober coach who can support you. Going through old belongings, packing up, and moving, is an emotional process for anyone. When you are newly sober and run the risk of uncovering drugs, the emotions are heightened. The emotional support of a trusted friend, family member, or professional can help you walk through discovering hidden drugs, uncovering old memories, and facing the reality of your recovery.

Purchase a hazardous material bin

Intravenous drug users may consider buying a hazardous materials bin to dispose of old needles or other blood-borne materials.


Turn drugs in

Many police stations do safe collections of drugs and prescription medications. Flushing drugs down the toilet or throwing them away reintroduces the deadly substances into the environment. With your supportive friend, turn the drugs in where they can be safely disposed of and kept away from others.