Drug and alcohol addiction impacts millions of lives in America each year. In fact, the number of people who struggle with addiction is so high that the odds are you personally know at least two or three people in addiction and possibly someone who is, will be, or has been through recovery.
Of course, when you learn that family or friends are in active recovery you want to be there for them and offer encouragement. If you’ve never dealt with addiction first hand, you may not know just how important it is to be mindful of what you say.
There are a few things we hear people say all of the time to those who are in recovery, which actually aren’t very helpful.
That Was Awkward…
1. I never would have pegged you as an addict. How bad were you?
Addiction brings people to the lowest places in their lives. It is likely that while your friend was using, you wouldn’t even recognize them. As someone who has no idea what it’s like to be in this position, you are probably just wondering out of genuine curiosity; but honestly, how do you expect someone to answer this question? Unless your friend/family member decides to share this intimate information with you on their own terms, it should never be brought up.
2. I get it, we’re all addicted to something. I am way too addicted to working out.
In saying this you are trying to relate to your friend and possibly deflate any tension. Although, in reality it just comes across like you have absolutely no grasp on the gravity of the situation. Addiction costs people their marriages, their children, their jobs, their peace of mind and more.
You can’t relate, and that’s okay. A simple, “I love you no matter what, and I am here for you” is enough said.
3. Do you think you will ever be able to drink/use again, even just once in a while?
Your brain doesn’t work the same way as that of a person dealing with addiction. When you say just one, or once in a while, you actually mean it. To someone in recovery ‘just one’ is meaningless. ‘Just one’ is the beginning of a long spiral. To live clean and sober is the mission of a person in recovery, not to live ‘mostly’ clean and sober.
Furthermore, it is important to be mindful of how the words you say could be used later. Asking your friend if they will still partake ‘once in a while’ could give them that extra push they needed to legitimize a poor decision.
Just know that drinking or using is not an option for your friend/family member, ever. Their life will be infinitely better because of it.
4. I Wish I Could Lose Weight Like That!
Addiction to certain drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, can lead to an extreme amount of weight loss. Although you may be struggling with your workout commitment and think they look amazing, this is generally an embarrassing topic.
If you’re visiting a person who has been dealing with addiction, it’s a good rule of thumb not to comment on their appearance, even if you’re intentions are good. Saying they look great, or that they look thin could discourage them from continuing with their recovery.
Instead, encourage them on their decision to be clean and sober!
5. I had a drug/alcohol problem too, but I just stopped.
Telling someone in recovery that it’s not that hard to quit is always a bad idea. Regardless of whether this is coming from an innocent place, or you’re saying it to shame your friend for their lack of will power, it’s unnecessary. No matter how you meant it, it will come off as condescending. It’s great that you had such control over yourself and were able to stop using, but your friend just needs support and encouragement during this fragile time in their life.
Do you know someone with a drug or alcohol problem, who could use a helping hand? Lead them to The Shores Treatment and Recovery. We are a treatment center with an emphasis on whole-person healing. We work with each of our clients to create a recovery plan suited for their specific needs. Every day in addiction is another day wasted. Contact us today at 772 800 3990