Wondering what to say to a recovering addict? Be sure to avoid these 5 things you shouldn’t say to someone in recovery from drugs
Are you having a hard time trying to figure out what you should or shouldn’t say to someone in recovery from drugs? If you are worried that your attempts to say supportive things to someone recovering from drug addiction may backfire, BetterAddictionCare.com has some guidelines that can help. Here is our best advice on the top 5 things you shouldn’t say to someone in recovery, along with alternative messaging you can try.
- “You may get high sometimes, but I wouldn’t say you’re an actual drug addict” Statements that minimize or deny someone’s need for recovery top the list of things not to say to a recovering addict. Admitting they have a problem and seeking help for their addiction is one of the hardest things for someone with a drug or alcohol addiction. Drug addicts often have to struggle against denial in order to seek help. Fueling that denial is insensitive at best and may even be dangerous if it causes the individual to relapse. Instead, let your friend know that you are proud of them for taking steps to achieve recovery.
- “Your drug use wasn’t that bad, was it?” Friends and relatives of addicts often feel guilty for not noticing someone they know needed help. Drug addicts also typically conceal the extent of their addiction from their family and friends, so it is likely that you have no idea of the actual extent of the person’s drug abuse. Because of these facts, it can be tempting to minimize your friend’s addiction. Resist the urge, and tell your friend you respect the courage it took for them to admit their addiction.
- “When can you stop going to meetings?” Recovery is an ongoing process. A relapse can happen at any time, and someone may continue going to meetings for years in order to have the ongoing support of a sober community to help them remain drug-free. A person in recovery needs to know that you support their ongoing sobriety efforts. Asking them when they can stop going to meetings can sound as if you are impatiently waiting for them to get done with this so you can move onto something else. Let the person know that you will be there to support them throughout recovery, however long it takes.
- “Do you think you can stick with it better this time?” It can be hard to know the right thing to say to someone recovering from drug addiction who has relapsed in the past. Realize that relapses occur in drug recovery just as they do with recovery from other chronic diseases, and is not a matter of having a weak will. Offer your friend your love and support and stress that you will be there to help as long as they keep trying.
- “It must be really hard facing everyone. I don’t think I could do it” People in recovery often experience a range of emotional disturbances and mood disorders including depression, guilt, insomnia, and anxiety. While you may think the statement above comes across as a sympathetic or admiring remark about the recovering addict’s strength, someone in recovery will likely interpret this statement differently. In the middle of the night when recovering addicts struggle with feelings of inadequacy, a statement you meant to convey appreciation may undercut the recovering addict’s confidence. Try sticking to words of love and encouragement instead.