Joining My Son in Rehab

Inquiry from Father:

son in rehab

Can I come to support my son in rehab?

Dear Serenity Vista,

My 35-year-old son was just fired from his prestigious job because of his drinking. He has been struggling with alcohol for years. Now he has lost his job and his wife at the same time as a consequence of his alcoholism. He needs help! I’ve been searching online worldwide for the best international addiction treatment center because I am willing to help my son in rehab anywhere. Your program is impressive and I am recommending he come to Panama and attend Serenity Vista. He says he is willing to come. It sounds strange, but I am grateful and relieved that I will have my son in rehab.

To help him feel comfortable with this change, I plan to rent an apartment in Boquete for the duration of his 90 day program at Serenity Vista. That way, I can be close by to be supportive and help him. Can you please recommend a contact for finding an apartment?


Serenity Vista’s Response:

Once he becomes engaged in the process and enters the program, your job is to ‘Let Go and Let God’.

Dear Concerned Father,

We are pleased to help your son and look forward to working with him. The sooner he becomes engaged in, comfortable with and trusting of Serenity Vista the better. To that end, I encourage him to complete the admission form. That will give us the necessary information to help firm up his arrival details, and in the process, open a channel of communication between us. We will help him with any questions he may have about the program and help allay any concerns.

The focus is on the individual

Our focus with our guests is always on them and their individual journey of recovery. Their work is very personal and deep, including the family of origin exploration.  The sooner the guest feels safe and starts opening up, the greater the healing. To facilitate this process outside distractions are minimal, including very limited use of electronics. Connecting with family and loved ones is limited to Sunday afternoons after one full week in the program (ie starting on the second Sunday). This is all outlined in the Expectations and House Rules, linked to in the Release. We ask that you and your son review and sign the online Release to be familiar with that information.

For those same reasons, we do not recommend family visits during the first 45 days. This is seldom a question as many of our guests come from North America and abroad. In the less common case, such as yours, where it may be feasible for family to visit, we leave that to later in the program and at the invitation of the guest. We empower and support each guest in making this individual decision. While you have a son in rehab, you are best to concentrate on your own healing.

Trusting the process

I therefore do not recommend that you plan to stay in Boquete specifically to be close to your son for his program. With the greatest of respect, this could possibly be frustrating for you, and minimally a distraction for your son.

Active in the community

We do a variety of activities with our guests in town throughout the week. We attend 3 English speaking AA meetings, we visit the Haven Spa for recreation, massage, and yoga and go for dinner out after the spa. On Saturdays, we engage in various recreational activities and there are daily walks. Running into Dad could be a very disruptive distraction to your son and the other guests.

You are offering a tremendous, sacrificial gift of life for your son in rehab. Stepping aside, trusting and letting go can be very difficult, and seems paradoxical. Trust me, as a father, I get it. But trust that it is ultimately best for him.


Most guests travel to Serenity Vista on their own. If loved ones are in Panama City, they will see the guest off on the regional short flight to David. We arrange for an English speaking driver to greet the guest in David and bring him or her to Serenity Vista (about a 40 min drive). In this way, the guest is taking that last step on their own. This is an act of engagement, empowerment, and personal commitment to the program they are about to attend. This too, becomes an act of letting go for the family.

We look forward to meeting your son and helping him on his exciting journey of recovery. You are giving him an amazing gift. Once he becomes engaged in the process and enters the program, your job is to ‘Let Go and Let God’.

We will give you further information and advice on how to best be supportive of your, and the family’s recovery process. That will be the subject of another communication.


John Derry, B.Sc.Phm., M.A.


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