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Do You Know What to Say to Someone in Rehab?

Talking to someone who is going to rehab can be intimidating, as frequently, you may wonder if what you are saying is the right thing to say. Remembering that the correct words may help someone through rehab healthily, with more motivation, and taking care of their mental health is crucial in these circumstances.

35 Minutes Read | Published Oct 02 2023 | Updated Jun 04 2024 Expert Verified
David Levin
Reviewed by
David Levin
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Compassionate, empathetic, supportive, and nonjudgmental words are the most powerful, so always keep that in mind. Empathy demonstrates that you understand their suffering and care about their well-being. Avoiding judgmental language makes the individual feel appreciated and valued rather than chastised or blamed for their addiction. Furthermore, encouragement and positivism are essential for motivating someone during their recovery. It's also important to actively listen and offer practical support.

Highlighting their progress, no matter how modest, and reminding them of their strengths can boost their motivation to continue on the road to recovery. It's also a good idea to urge them to focus on their goals and the positive results they're striving toward, such as greater health, better relationships, and personal development. Here is a guide to help you find the right words to say to someone going through rehab.

Words of Empathy

Kindness and empathy show a recovering person that their views and feelings are respected. Genuine compassion is understanding and appreciating someone else's feelings and worries without judgment. Empathy also means recognizing how hard their situation is, showing that you care about their well-being, and saying that you want to ease their pain. Telling someone you understand how they feel and what they've been through can help them feel less alone and more understood.

Your kind comments can significantly improve their mental health and confidence as they recover. Many people in treatment experience anxiety, embarrassment, and guilt. When you demonstrate understanding, you make them feel their problems are normal, making them more likely to discuss them and providing an improved environment driven by increased motivation and strength. Furthermore, expressing empathy boosts people's self-esteem and encourages them to continue attending therapy.

Here are some examples of empathetic statements that can be said to someone going to rehab and how they can help:


Ways it Helps

Negative Feeling Eased

"I understand this is challenging for you."

- Acknowledges the struggle.

- Validates the experience.

Feeling misunderstood.

"I'm here for you, no matter what."

- Reassures consistent support.

- Reassures companionship.

Feeling alone.

"It’s okay to feel upset; your feelings are valid."

- Validates emotions.

- Make people feel understood.

Feeling invalidated.

"I can see that you're going through a lot right now."

- Shows awareness of the struggles.

Feeling ignored.

"I'm sorry you're having to go through this."

- Expresses sorrow for their pain.

Feeling like nobody understands.

"It must be tough to deal with all of this."

- Acknowledges the difficulty of the situation.

Feeling overwhelmed.

"You are so strong to be facing this."

- Recognizes the strength.

- Provides encouragement.

Feeling weak.

"I wish I could take away your pain."

- Shows deep empathy.

- Shows a desire to help alleviate suffering.

Feeling unsupported.

"It's normal to have bad days, and talking about them is okay."

- Normalizes the experience.

- Encourages sharing.

Feeling ashamed or guilty.

"I'm here to support you, whatever you need."

- Offers unconditional support.

- Offers assistance.

Feeling unsupported.

Words of Encouragement

It can be incredibly helpful for someone in recovery to receive words of encouragement acknowledging their accomplishments. These words hold great power as they inspire people to recognize and value their endeavors and strengths, regardless of how small they may seem. Recognizing their achievements and unwavering commitment can uplift their spirits and motivate them to persevere in their rehabilitation journey.

Encouragement words can inspire individuals and boost their self-assurance, empowering them to overcome obstacles and pursue their goals with determination. Support from others helps individuals maintain an optimistic outlook, which is crucial for navigating the challenges of rehabilitation. In addition to giving them instant drive, words of encouragement have a long-term effect on their strength and self-esteem. When someone is supported, they are more likely to see their growth as a good thing and set goals that they can reach.

Here are some examples of encouragement statements that can be said to someone going to rehab and how they can help:


Ways it Helps

Negative Feeling Eased

"You've made so much progress."

- Highlights achievements.

- Reinforces positive behavior.

Feeling unaccomplished.

"I believe in your strength to overcome this."

- Boosts confidence.

- Reinforces self-belief.

Feeling incapable.

"Keep going; you're doing great."

- Provides motivation.

Feeling discouraged.

"You have the power to change your future."

- Empowers to see potential.

Feeling hopeless.

"Every step you take is a step closer to recovery."

- Encourages persistence.

- Emphasizes progress.

Feeling frustrated.

"You are capable of amazing things."

- Reinforces abilities.

- Reinforce potential.

Feeling inadequate.

"Don't give up; you have come so far."

- Reminds the progress.

Feeling tempted to give up.

"Your hard work is paying off."

- Validates efforts.

- Recognize outcomes.

Feeling unrecognized.

"You are stronger than you think."

- Challenges self-doubt.

- Reinforces inner strength.

Feeling weak or unsure.

"Your determination is inspiring."

- Provides external validation.

- Boosts morale.

Feeling unmotivated.

Words of Support

When people in recovery hear support words, they can sense the consistent assistance of others. These words soothe the individual by reminding them they have a reliable support network and are not on this journey alone.

Supporting someone includes addressing practical and emotional concerns while making them feel heard. Encouraging support networks can help people heal while also fostering personal relationships and a sense of community.

Here are some examples of support words that can be said to someone going to rehab and how they can help:


Ways it Helps

Negative Feeling Eased

"Let me know how I can help you today."

- Offers practical assistance.

- Shows willingness to support.

Feeling overwhelmed.

"We will get through this together."

- Emphasizes solidarity.

- Emphasizes partnership.

Feeling isolated.

"You're not alone in this."

- Reinforces the idea of having a support system.

Feeling unsupported.

"I'm just a call away whenever you need me."

- Provides reassurance of immediate availability.

Feeling anxious.

"It's okay to ask for help when you need it."

- Normalizes seeking.

- Reduces stigma.

Feeling ashamed.

"You can count on me to be there for you."

- Builds trust and reliability.

Feeling distrustful.

"I believe in you and your recovery."

- Boosts confidence.

- Reassures belief in their efforts.

Feeling doubtful.

"Your well-being is important to me."

- Shows care and concern.

- Reinforces value.

Feeling unimportant.

"We can face these challenges together."

- Promotes a team approach.

Feeling overwhelmed.

 Words of Active Listening

Active listening indicates that you are fully involved and pay attention to what someone going to rehab is saying. These statements show that you are hearing what they say and comprehending their emotions and experiences. By thinking about what they say and providing feedback that respects their feelings, you create a safe environment where they may open up and share more profound thoughts.

Active listening can help people feel less lonely by letting them know their situation and thoughts are important and worth attention. This supportive touch makes people more likely to keep talking honestly, which is important for their long-term recovery and personal growth.

Here are some examples of active listening statements and how they help:


Ways it Helps

Negative Feeling Eased

"I hear you, and I understand."

- Validate feelings.

- Shows understanding.

Feeling misunderstood.

"Tell me more about how you're feeling."

- Encourages to share deep feelings.

Feeling ignored.


"It sounds like you're really going through a lot."

- Reflects experiences.

- Shows empathy.

Feeling unnoticed.

"What I'm hearing is that you're feeling..."

- Help to clarify emotions.

- Ensures accurate understanding.

Feeling confused.

"That must have been really difficult for you."

- Acknowledges struggles.

Feeling unsupported.

"I'm here to listen whenever you need to talk."

- Provides assurance of ongoing support.

Feeling isolated.

"I appreciate you sharing this with me."

- Shows gratitude for openness.

- Reinforces trust.

Feeling undervalued.

"It sounds like you're saying that..."

- Confirms the message.

Feeling dismissed.

"How did that make you feel?"

- Validates emotions.

Feeling invalidated.

Finally, remember that these are just phrases you can use to create connections, help, and support someone in their recovery process. However, you can say many other things to someone going to rehab that can be very valuable. Remember to speak with tact and empathy and show your full support.


bullet National Library of Medicine
"How to Enhance the Motivation for Drug Detoxification: Consciousness Guidance and Behaviour Restriction of Family Intergenerational Ethics"
Retrieved on June 04, 2024
bullet National Library of Medicine
"The Intersection of Empathy and Addiction"
Retrieved on June 04, 2024
bullet National Library of Medicine
"Explicating the role of empathic processes in substance use disorders: a conceptual framework and research agenda"
Retrieved on June 04, 2024
bullet National Library of Medicine
"What motivates people with substance use disorders to pursue treatment? A patient-centered approach to understanding patient experiences and patient-provider interactions"
Retrieved on June 04, 2024
bullet National Library of Medicine
"Social Support: A Mixed Blessing for Women in Substance Abuse Treatment"
Retrieved on June 04, 2024
bullet National Library of Medicine
"Active Listening"
Retrieved on June 04, 2024

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