How To Help An Addict In Recovery

WOOT WOOT! A loved one who is an addict has entered a treatment program and is officially in recovery. Now what? What do you say? What do you not say? Are the right words that important? What about family functions? Can champagne still be served at celebrations? What about inviting them over for the big game? Is it okay to have a beer in their presence? What about that leftover pain medication in the bathroom closet? Life with a recovering addict may seem filled with all sorts of tricky navigation. Here are some helpful suggestions.

Words DO Matter: Yes, there are all the right things that you should say. But there are also some things that you shouldn't say.

Do say things that are:

  • Encouraging. Sharing a recovery success story can inspire a recovering addict.

  • Comfort. Knowing that someone is willing to listen is just the type of emotional support someone in recovery needs.

  • Funny. Humor goes a long way toward healing, comforting, encouraging and distracting anyone, including recovering addicts.

  • Sincere. Don't be afraid to express tender emotions. Recovering addicts are also dealing with shameful stigmas that do much damage to their sense of self-worth. Let them know that they matter to you.

Don't say things that are:

  • Pity. Don't tell them how sorry you feel for them. That only reinforces feelings of guilt and shame.          

  • Presumptuous. Recovery is a complicated process. Don't assume it's all sheer willpower.

  • Minimalizations: Trying to avoid the uncomfortable fact that an addict's behaviors were really a problem by minimizing them is like telling an addict they probably don't really need to go through a rehabilitation program.

  • Intrusive. It's none of your business how they are feeling, how difficult it has been and how many times they have struggled with temptation. If they take the initiative to share, listen. However, if they don't take the first step in this direction, mind your own business regardless of your desire to know all of the details. Be patient and allow a recovering addict to open up at their pace and establish their boundaries for privacy.

  • Grim. A recovering addict is not helped by hearing how horrible things might get. They are well aware of the serious nature of rehabilitation.


Creating A Recovery Environment: As to family get-togethers, it is important that the environment be supportive of the addict in recovery. That means having substance-free birthday parties and family dinners. If a family member is highly resistant to such an idea, that may also raise a red flag that the addict in recovery may not be the only one with a problem. If you live with a recovering addict, all substances with the potential to tempt a relapse should be removed from the home.

Building Healthy: Recovery is not just about breaking a physical addiction. It is about rebuilding a healthy life. Substance abuse, especially long-term addiction, can cause serious health problems. In addition to the professionals involved with a treatment program, a recovering addict needs to be under the care of a qualified medical professional who is experienced in treating the needs of a patient in recovery. Loved ones can help by supporting healthy lifestyle choices, such as meal planning and getting involved in hobbies. Activities that promote physical health should be encouraged. Ride bikes together. Go on daily walks. Hit the gym. Go fishing. Visit an art museum. Play board games. Stay involved, positive and active.

Participate In Recovery: Loved ones of recovering addicts have their own unique perspectives, needs and questions. Seek out a support group. This helps you to participate in the recovery of your loved one actively and gain insight from the experiences of others. It is important to be able to express and confront your pain, frustrations, and fears. Support groups are safe places of comfort and encouragement. A place where you can say things that might otherwise go unsaid and forever gnaw at your or haunt you. They are also a source of strength because you are no longer going it alone. Participation also sends a strong signal to your

Justin FranichComment