Do I Need a Recovery Contract?

Do I Need a Recovery Contract?

When a loved one completes a rehab program, they get to come home soon (unless they go to sober living). Celebrations may take time because the reality is life can be messy in sobriety and recovery is for life. That said, a person needs lots of help setting (and meeting) goals. Find out how a recovery contract may or may not be a good way to support a loved one in recovery.

What is a Recovery Contract

When a person wants to protect themselves, they need a plan in place before heading home. A recovery contract can be there to come in handy in this regard. A recovery contract agreement outlines what is expected of both people, including the person in recovery. The contract puts it in writing and also outlines consequences. Ideally this follows certain guidelines in every situation.

Outline of a Contract

A good recovery contract should include the following five columns:

  • Goals and accomplishments
  • Accountability to complete first point
  • Date of completion
  • Check off space for completion
  • Consequences for lack of completion

Do’s and Don’ts

In order to help a loved one be set up for success in sobriety, an open and honest dialogue needs to happen. Be sure to set clear expectations. Consequences for refusal to play by the rules must be set. Get input and listen but keep the following in mind:

  • DO keep everything in writnig to give weight to spoken agreements
  • DO make it mutual and decide together on goals
  • DO be specific like walking the dog, etc
  • DO list positive and negative consequences and make sure it is a deterrent to future behavior
  • DO insist on complete sobriety
  • DO talk about goals and consequences with a verbal agreement in place
  • DON’T make it overly complex or bogged down in specifics
  • DON’T take it as seriously as a lawyer’s deed that may make the person feel it is too hard to meet the goals
  • DON’T back down on consequences. Be prepared to follow through. If the contract states the person must move out if an agreement is broken, don’t back down and change your mind

Relapses happen but they should also come with consequences. Having a person live in your house with you and your family who is not following the rules can make things much more challenging than you realize. Make sure you have personal accountability people to help you navigate the challenges also.


For more than 25 years, Palmetto Addiction Recovery Center has been devoted to helping those who are struggling, to find serenity and recover. With a focus on holistic treatment for the physical, emotional, and spiritual, our program effectively rebuilds and heals what has been broken by addiction. For information on our addiction treatment program in Louisiana, call us today: 866-848-3001