Shoreline Sober Living, San Diego, CA
What to say to a recovering drug addict

Millions of American citizens are unfortunately affected by addiction every year. There is the addicted individual and the loved ones standing by giving as much support as possible that are most affected. Addiction is a complex disease; it doesn’t discriminate and causes absolute heartbreak for millions of families and friends. Addiction has become such a common phenomenon that nearly all of us will know of someone affected by addiction when we are in our adult life.

Addiction is a difficult journey for everyone involved; it is vital that each person involved continuously keeps an open mind and willingness to keep going when times get hard. 

If a loved one is in this unfortunate situation, you will want to know how to talk to a recovering addict without worrying that you may cause them to relapse or constantly walk on eggshells when they are around. 

What to say and how to talk to a recovering addict

It will never be a straightforward conversation, but it will get easier the more you and your addicted loved one communicate. You will quickly begin picking up what words or tones may trigger them and begin to identify how to get them to open up if they are struggling with their recovery journey. 

The following can help you talk to a loved one or friend when they are on the road to recovery. However, please note that what may work with one individual may not necessarily work with someone else, so please keep an open mind, do not get frustrated, and keep trying until you find what works for you. 

Be prepared

Be prepared for a variety of reactions from anger to sadness. If the individual is to react in a way you did not expect, you will need to keep calm and continue speaking in a monotone way. If you are to respond negatively, the conversation could escalate into an argument or intense disagreement. 

Reassure them 

Many individuals suffering from addiction will suffer in silence as they believe they are the only ones suffering from this awful disease. Often they are embarrassed, feel guilty, and have to deal with an array of negative emotions. 

Reminding a loved one who is suffering that they are not alone is vital. This can come in many forms; you can talk to them about

  • Their favorite celebrities who overcame addiction
  • Point out statistics regarding the American population who are too struggling with addiction 
  • Discuss sober role models that the individual may look up to 

The main point of this conversation is to reassure them that they are not alone and that they are not the only person who is currently going through recovery or has gone through rehab. Openly discussing this topic can make your loved ones feel less lonely and isolated in their current circumstances. 

Express that you love them

Individuals in recovery will often need much encouragement because they will be dealing with overwhelming, intense emotions of shame and guilt regarding how they may have acted in the past. Recovering individuals, more often than not, will genuinely believe that they or utterly unworthy of love or any positive connection. 

Reminding a loved one who is suffering that they are loved will help them through this recovery stage. 

Offer up your help

Addiction can often begin as a way for an individual to self-medicate themselves due to current adverse events happening in their lives. Asking your loved ones how you can help them succeed in their recovery journey allows them to feel in complete control, leading to them feeling empowered.

 If you are aware of specific issues in your loved ones’ life that may hinder their recovery process offer a helping hand to show them that you are here until they are completely recovered. Your loved one may not show it, but they will be highly grateful for any help. 

 Ask to hang out with them

Loneliness is one of the top reasons why individuals begin abusing substances again. Individuals now in recovery would have built their entire social group around drinking and using drugs. Unless all of their friends want to get sober as well, the individual will have to go on their journey alone, which can become rather lonely. Show your support by asking them to hand out, plan a fun day out with sober activities, for example,

  • Go to the cinema if a new movie has come out that you know they will like to 
  • Go for a walk in the park or have a picnic 
  • Work out together, whether that is in the gym or just going for a run around the neighborhood 
  • Try new recipes or invited friends and family round for a BBQ 
  • Play video games with them 
  • Fix up a car 
  • Redecorate their room or the entire house 
  • Go down to the beach and swim in the ocean 

The list truly is endless; ensure the activity that you have proposed does not involve drugs or drinking of any kind.

There is always hope

If your loved one was on their recovery journey but unfortunately relapsed, it is vital that you let them know that this does not mean there is no hope. The majority, if not all, of addicts, will relapse at least once in their recovery journey. It is not looked at as a failure; relapsing is viewed as an opportunity to figure out what went wrong, where the individual may need more support, and how to fight back harder when they are ready to try again. 

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