Avoiding Conversational Pitfalls When Speaking with a Recovering Addict

When you have a friend or family member who is in addiction treatment or recovery, you do not want to say the wrong thing and cause him or her hurt, embarrassment, or emotional difficulty that could lead to a relapse. ad

“I know how you feel.”

Even if you know others who have gone to rehab or have dealt with addiction yourself, it may or may not be true that you know how someone else feels about addiction, treatment and recovery. Instead of assuming you understand how someone you know feels, why not let the person tell you instead. Being a good listener is valued by most people, and recovering addicts are no exception to this rule.

“How long until you can drink again?”

Addicts are never “cured” and should follow their treatment and sobriety plans for the rest of their lives. They should not resume drinking and will have to learn new ways to navigate social occasions and parties where there will be drinking or drugs, if they even want to attend them going forward.

“What are you going to do for fun now?”

There are many ways of having fun that do not involve drinking or drugs. Instead of assuming that someone cannot have fun anymore, you should consider your own viewpoint about what constitutes fun and understand that your loved one’s life has now changed and adjustments will need to be made if the recovering addict is to remain healthy.

Drug addiction

Expressing concern and caring for a friend with addiction is always welcomed.

“How long have you been sober?”

Recovery can have starts and stops, and addicts can be ashamed of relapsing, so it is better not to focus on a period of time unless the person wants to volunteer the information. A question like “how are you doing?” or “how is it going?” will be better welcomed and will give you an opportunity to listen and be supportive.

“Are you sure you are an addict?”

Questioning or challenging their experience and treatment plan will not help them recover from what has been one of the most difficult times of their lives. Going to rehab is not something that can be undertaken lightly; you can be sure that your loved one’s life was greatly disrupted in order to take the step of entering treatment, which is characteristic of addiction. Asking this question trivializes the experience, and does nothing to support a recovering addict.

“I had no idea you had such a problem.”

Addiction is a private thing for many people, and it is likely they tried very hard to hide the extent of the problem prior to entering treatment. Instead of expressing your surprise or even shock at the news, it is better to express that you are proud of them for taking the extremely difficult step of seeking help and treatment for their addiction.

Now that you are aware of some of the pitfalls that could crop up in conversations with an addict, it will be easier to be supportive of them and be a help in your interactions rather than making a hard situation even harder. For more information about addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, contact Recovery Village at Palmer Lake and we will gladly help you.