What To Say To Someone In Addiction Recovery

What To Say To Someone In Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery is an ongoing journey that can be filled with many challenges. It can be difficult to know what to say to someone in addiction recovery, especially if you have never been through the process yourself. In this article, we will discuss what addiction recovery looks like and the different stages of recovery. We will also explore the different treatment options that you may present in reaching out to a family member or a friend.

The Road To Addiction Recovery

To better empathize with a friend or family member trying to recover from substance abuse, it is helpful to try and understand the disease itself.

Recovery from addiction is a process that looks (and feels) different for everyone who suffers from it. There are many factors that can influence the length and difficulty of the recovery journey, such as the individual’s drug of choice, age, overall health, and support systems.


Recognizing the need for assistance is the starting point towards addiction recovery. Though often daunting, this acknowledgment is crucial. It is absolutely vital to recognize addiction as a disease, necessitating professional intervention akin to any other ailment.


The next step in addiction recovery is detoxification, which is the process of cleansing the body of drugs and alcohol. This can be a difficult process because, during early sobriety, the person often experiences withdrawal symptoms that are uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous.

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Psychological Processes

In this step, the individual will begin to engage in therapy and counseling. Engaging in psychological programs may be worked alongside the detoxification process. This is important because it helps the individual identify the root causes of their addiction and devise healthy coping mechanisms that they can carry throughout their lives, especially when times become challenging again in the future. Underlying depression, anxiety, and overall mental health are also given focus in this step in the process.


The final stage of recovery programs is maintenance, which is when the individual begins to live and sustain a drug-free life. This is quite challenging for many people. Depending on the severity of addiction, it might be a conscious effort for a very long time. There will always be a possibility of relapse, but it is important to remember that recovery is possible. There are many resources and support groups available to help individuals suffering from drug or alcohol abuse.

Reaching Out To Someone

If a friend or a family member is struggling with substance abuse, it is helpful for them to have someone reach out to them during the recovery process. However, those caring for them might be unsure what to say or do. Below are tips on how to support someone in addiction recovery:

  • Avoid judgment: It is important to remember that addiction is a disease, and like any other form of sickness, it requires treatment.
  • Be supportive: Show your support for the individual by attending therapy sessions with them or joining a support group and attending alongside them.
  • Be patient: Recovery from Substance Use Disorder is a process that takes time. Knowing that the client’s condition is considered a chronic illness, there may be setbacks and relapses, but it is important to remember that recovery is still possible.
  • Offer help: There are numerous ways to provide valuable support to someone, especially those battling substance abuse. Your genuine efforts to aid them in their recovery journey can be immensely appreciated. Whether it is helping them secure employment and housing or simply being there as a consistent emotional pillar, your support can make a significant difference in their recovery process.
  • Listen: One of the most important things you can do for someone in recovery is to simply listen. Let them know that you are there for them and offer your unwavering support. Knowing that someone is ready to listen naturally boosts one’s emotional health.
What To Say To Someone In Addiction Recovery

What To Say To Someone In Addiction Recovery

If you are still unsure of what to say to someone in addiction recovery, here are certain encouraging words that you may use when reaching out to them.

  • “I’m here for you” is a concise yet impactful message that supports recovery. It demonstrates care and willingness to stand by them throughout their journey.
  • Congratulations on taking the first step” is a great way to acknowledge their progress and effort in recovery and can provide motivation to further them toward the path of healing. It serves as a reminder that there is no shame in undergoing this process. This boosts their determination and overall mental well-being as they strive for a new life.
  • I’m so proud of you” is a phrase that communicates your admiration for what the individual has accomplished. It also serves as a reminder that they can live a sober life. Even though treatment facilities help recovering addicts, it is still very important for them to know that the people around them, especially loved ones, are proud of their initiative to stay sober.
  • “You are not alone” communicates the message “I hear you,” offering reassurance and comfort, especially when expressed by someone they love. This reminder highlights the presence of their support network beyond rehab, emphasizing that 12-step programs are not the sole source of support. Those grappling with substance abuse benefit from knowing that numerous family members and friends are invested in their well-being, encouraging them to prioritize their own health and recovery journey.
  • “I have faith in you” expresses confidence in the person’s capacity to overcome addiction. It serves as a reminder that their illness does not solely define their identity and reinforces the belief that they possess the resilience to conquer it, even during the initial phases of treatment.

What NOT To Say To Someone In Recovery

While it is crucial to consider what to convey to someone in addiction recovery, it is equally important to recognize what to avoid saying. Despite our best intentions, our words may inadvertently cause harm, leaving individuals feeling disheartened. Addiction is a deeply personal experience that may be misunderstood by many. Without caution, well-meaning attempts to support a friend or family member could unintentionally exacerbate their struggles.

  • You’re weak” is not only hurtful but also inaccurate. Addiction is not a conscious decision made by individuals and is a condition that arises due to various factors. Understanding that addiction is a disease and not a choice is crucial.
  • “Just quit” oversimplifies the struggle of addiction. If overcoming it were simple, individuals would have done so already. This phrase fails to acknowledge the complexity of addiction and the challenges individuals face in their journey toward recovery.
  • “It’s all in your head” implies that the individual’s battle with addiction is imagined or insignificant. This dismisses their reality and can cause considerable distress.
  • “You’re just looking for attention” implies that the individual’s addiction is merely a ploy to gain attention from others. This denies the gravity of their condition and is deeply hurtful.
  • I don’t believe you” simply communicates that you do not trust the person or what they say. It is important to remain supportive and understand that addiction is a real disease.

Saying any of these things, whether intentional or not, can make someone in addiction recovery feel worse about themselves. It is important to remain supportive and understanding, even if you do not understand what they are going through.

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If you are not sure what to say to someone in addiction recovery, it is necessary to ask questions and learn more about what they are dealing with. Addiction is a complex disease, but showing support can make a big difference in your loved one’s road to recovery.

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Available Treatment Options

As individuals battling addiction reach a crucial point of self-awareness, standing at the juncture between rock bottom and early recovery, understanding the available treatment options becomes pivotal in steering them toward the latter.

Offering support in addiction recovery goes beyond mere words of encouragement; it involves guiding them through the maze of professional assistance and recovery programs essential for their full rehabilitation from substance use. Here are some of the prevalent treatment options:

  • Inpatient rehab: This type of treatment is conducted in a hospital or residential setting. It allows people to focus on their recovery without distractions from everyday life.
  • Outpatient rehab: This type of treatment allows people to live at home and continue with their normal routine while attending scheduled appointments at an outpatient facility.
  • 12-step programs: These programs center around the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, which provide support and guidance for people struggling with addiction. Typically, they encompass others in recovery or post-recovery.
  • Therapeutic recreation: How does therapeutic recreation help with addiction recovery? This type of treatment uses recreational activities to help people in recovery develop new skills and interests. It can also be used to help them cope with mental health issues.

Regardless of the treatment path you select, it is vital to seek professional assistance when grappling with addiction. Recovery entails a difficult journey, but with the right support, it is achievable. Treatment facilities in your area may provide various programs, so it is crucial to consider the individual’s circumstances when determining the most suitable form of treatment.

Bottom-line: Words Will Always Retain Their Power

As they say, words indeed have power. Carefully contemplating what to say to someone in addiction recovery is a thoughtful gesture to show your genuine care for them throughout this challenging time. Providing encouragement to a loved one in treatment is essential to their recovery efforts. Words can be used to communicate a supportive message and negate blame.

It is advisable to steer away from negative or hurtful statements that can further damage a person’s emotional state. Instead, try to focus on positive and affirming words to show your support for their sobriety journey.

Seek professional help to find the right treatment program for your loved one. Recovery from substance abuse is a long and difficult process, but it is possible with the right support.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please reach out for help. There are many resources available that will cater to your needs. National institutes in your country may offer a wide variety of programs and services to help people struggling with addiction.


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