Drug Rehabilitation Blog

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6 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Recovering Addict

Posted by Myra Davis to Sobriety

When was the last time someone complimented or criticized you? Words hold power and can motivate you to work harder for success or discourage you to give up in defeat. The words you say hold power, too. That’s why you never want to say these six things to someone who is recovering from an addiction.

2 men talking
Photo by Andrew (Flickr)

1. You Must Be So Tired of Going to Meetings

Sobriety meetings through Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous teach recovering addicts how to live without their substance of choice. While you may not understand the importance of attending regular meetings, many recovering addicts use the testimonies, encouragement, and sponsorship as lifelines. Whether your recovering friend attends multiple meetings every day or one every once in a while, support their meeting attendance and commitment to living a new and improved lifestyle.

2. You’re Getting Better, So Quit Therapy

Some addicts can successfully fight their addiction without professional therapy. In my experience, though, that’s rare. Therapy helps an addict understand why they became addicted, learn strategies to resist triggers, and discover how to express emotions in a healthy way. Like you wouldn’t tell someone with diabetes to stop seeing the endocrinologist, don’t discourage a recovering addict from seeing a therapist.

3. Let’s Just Meet for One Drink

Maybe you can handle a beer or two. Your recovering friend can’t. Whether they were an alcohol or drug addict, one drink could trigger a full-blown relapse. I encourage friends and family members of recovering addicts to stay away from beer and bars. Host business meetings, fun celebrations, and social gatherings in a healthy location as you support rather than hinder a recovering addict.

4. You Shouldn’t Crave Drugs Since You’ve Been Clean for So Long

Telling a recovering addict that they should not have any cravings is like telling a person they shouldn’t be tired, hungry, or sad. Cravings for alcohol or drugs can diminish over time, but addiction is rooted in brain chemistry. A recovering addict never knows when an odor, memory, or conversation will trigger a desire for alcohol or drugs. Instead of telling your friend not to have cravings, I challenge you to make yourself available for a chat, coffee, or walk as you support your friend’s successful abstinence.

5. You’ll Be an Addict Forever

It’s true that recovering addicts do need to maintain their treatment plan for the rest of their lives. However, an addict can successfully recover. Telling a person that they will never be whole is both cruel and discouraging. Take a different path when you encourage the recovering addict in your life to follow their treatment plan and stay on track with sobriety.

6. You Should Really Talk to Your Old Friends

A recovering addict needs friends and supporters. They don’t need distractions. If your recovering friend chooses to avoid certain people from their past, it’s for a reason. Support the decision and ask your friend what you can do to support their journey to wholeness.

No matter what substance they’ve been addicted to or how long they’ve been in recovery, all recovering addicts need encouragement and support. I encourage you to do your part in assisting that recovery. Avoid expressing these six sentiments and use your powerful words for good!


  • Amanda

    This is such a great article. Addiction is a tough battle for someone and may continue to fight that battle for a life time. It is so important to continue to encourage and be supportive. You never know what can set a person back and anything less then supportive words are not needed for anyone really, but especially some one trying to overcome an addiction. I feel that people should help the person stay on the path they sorted out in rehab. Keep their attention on the future not the past!

  • Walter

    This is a good article and is interesting food for thought. It can be a very tought thing for someone to go through the struggle of overcoming an addiction. It is very true that you should not discourage them, and think about if you would like someone to tell you things like that if there was something that you were struggling with. It would be a pretty calloused thing for someone to say those things, but I am sure that they would happen. You should learn not to say things around them that are not going to make them feel guilty about things they may have done i the past as well as providing words of encouragement. There are many people who have spoken regarding the power that the spoken word have over people. I mean words are mainly what people deal with. It is amazing how much impact words can have over someone, whether positive or negative. You should seek to lift up someone who has gone through the battle of overcoming an addiction and provide them with help when they need it, not discouragement and disrespect. Telling an addict that they will probably relapse or that the cards are stacked against them is just cruel and beyond my wits to think that someone would say that. I would also like to mention that there are thousands of people if not millions that have had their lives ripped apart from the damage that words cause. I mean people kill because of words. It should also be a word of warning to addicts. That if you have people in your life that are saying these types of things to you, then they are probably not seeking your best interests in their communication, and i would recommend finding some new people to talk to that will seek to give you the encouragement that you need.

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