Did you know that nearly half of Americans have a family member or close friend who’s been addicted to drugs? Drug addiction and alcoholism harm the person who’s suffering from it, but it also affects their close ones.
If someone you love is struggling with addiction, you’ve probably experienced a roller coaster of emotions: pain, sadness, anger, guilt, hope… the list goes on. Deciding to get sober is a huge step for an addict, and at this point, they will need more support than ever. You may be conflicted, feeling happy they have finally decided to get help, but unsure as to what the outcome will be or if they really are ready to become sober. Providing them with love and encouragement is the best bet for both of you during this time.
Communication, in general, can be tricky. Sometimes we say the wrong thing at the wrong moment, we tend to say stuff we don’t mean when we’re upset, sometimes we don’t know what to say so we just don’t say anything.
When it comes to communicating with a recovering addict, this may become a lot more difficult. The best way to communicate with someone is always to put yourself in their shoes, try to imagine yourself in their situation, and treat them how you want to be treated.
If it’s still a little confusing, don’t worry about it. Today, we’ll share with you 4 examples of encouraging things you can say to someone in recovery.
“I Am Here For You”
These five little words can mean the world for someone in recovery. Getting sober is scary. It requires changing your thoughts, patterns, and behaviors. People who are going through all these changes, especially at the beginning, can feel lonely and unsupported.
They are dealing with feelings of shame, guilt, and self-hatred. Letting them know you’re there for them, as simple as it may seem, can help them realize that they’re not alone. Knowing that there’s someone out there willing to listen to them, can make going through this weird, difficult time in an addict’s life that much easier.
When they do come to you for support, try to be as positive and non-judgemental as you can. Opening up can be one of the hardest things for them to do and a huge step in their recovery process. So, when they come to you for support, make sure to really listen to what they have to say and not pass judgment. Sometimes, that’s all they need.
A great way to show them your support can be coming to them to group therapy, as long as they feel comfortable with it. There are many treatment centers that offer structured family therapy, such as this outpatient rehab Pennsylvania, where you and your loved one can speak honestly and safely about your feelings.
“I Am Proud Of You”
Deciding to get sober is probably the most difficult decision your loved one has ever made in their lives. It took a lot of courage to finally accept their problem, and it will take a lot of effort and willpower for them to through recovery. It’s important to give them recognition for putting their pride and ego aside and making this life-changing decision.
But making the decision is only the first step. All throughout recovery, they will struggle. Sometimes they will question whether they should stay in treatment. They may get frustrated and feel discouraged when they find they’re not progressing as fast as they hoped. Without support, these feelings can increase the risk of relapse. Recognizing their effort and showing your support offers a sense of understanding and validation. It shows them that they made the right decision.
Celebrate their milestones, like getting a 30-day sobriety chip or completing residential treatment, by letting them know how much you admire them and how proud you are for the changes they’re making to improve their lives.
“How Can I Help?”
When you don’t know what to say or do, it’s always better to ask. Don’t assume what your loved one wants or needs during this time. There are no two addicts alike, so the process will be different for every single person.
While some people may do great in 12 step programs, others will prefer more holistic care like yoga or art therapy. Some people will need to be checked into an inpatient treatment facility, while others may just need to attend therapy a couple of times a week. With this in mind, it’s important for you to ask them what they need since it’s the only way you’ll know how to help them.
Asking them this question will put your loved one in control of their recovery journey. They will know that no one is forcing them to do anything, they are choosing to get better and there are people who want to help them achieve this. This will lead to feelings of empowerment and responsibility, which can increase their chances of a successful recovery.
“I Love You”
At the end of the day, this is probably the most uplifting thing you can say to someone who has struggled with substance addiction. Especially at the beginning, they may be stuck hating themselves for what they did, and thinking everyone hates them as well because of the things they said and did in the past. Reminding them that they are worthy of being loved can help them have a more positive outlook on their recovery process.
It’s important that you mean it, though. Addiction can harm relationships in many ways, and it’s okay to love your friend or family member, but hate what they did. Remember that addiction makes people behave in ways that don’t reflect who they really are. It’s important you talk things out with them in order to be able to forgive them, which will help you be able to offer them your full support and unconditional love from now on.
Take Care of Yourself First
As important as it is to support your loved one during this difficult time, the most important thing is to take care of yourself first. This situation can be very stressful for you too, and you need to be able to recognize when it’s getting too much for you to handle, and, if you feel like you need it, get help too. Setting healthy boundaries with your loved one, taking breaks from caregiving, and attending support groups, are some ways you can take care of yourself.
These 4 simple phrases can mean the world to a person in addiction recovery. Letting them know you’re here for them, showing them you’re proud of them, asking how you can help them get better, and reminding them that you love them, are some of the ways you can show your loved one support, which can give them the motivation they need to go through this process with a more positive mindset.
Remember that empathy is key when communicating with an addict. Before you say anything, ask yourself whether it’s something you’d like to hear if you were going through such big changes in your life. What are other things you can say to a recovering addict to show them your support? Let us know in the comments below.