Encouraging the Addict in Your Life

Last Updated: Sep 20th 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

What do you say to a friend who is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol? It can feel almost impossible – like no matter what you do or say it will never be enough. You might even worry that if you say the wrong thing you could make the person feel worse than they likely already do. The most important thing for someone trying to be supportive to a recovering addict must know is that in spite of how difficult it can be to say something, saying nothing at all is so much worse. There is a great shame at the heart of any addiction someone may be struggling with regardless of if it is an addiction to drugs, alcohol, even gambling addiction. No matter how you cut it, staying silent or avoiding a friend when they come back from rehab will feed the shame they are already struggling to resist. Let them know you are still around and still care about them. Here are some ways you can make your friend or loved one feel encouraged and supported:

 

What To Say

  • “It’s so great to see you home” The first step to being there for a friend who has been in a residential detox for substance abuse treatment in Florida is to let them know that you thought about them while they were away, and that you are so glad to see them again. It can feel lonely for someone struggling with addiction to go back home. Sometimes people feel embarrassed, or ashamed that they had to seek treatment to begin with. Telling your friend or loved one that you care about them just as much now as you did before they left, and before you were even aware that they were dealing with an addiction can mean so very much to them.
  • “I am proud of you.” For someone to admit that they struggle with any type of addiction is nothing short of heroic in the face of how our society betrays those with this disorder. But going even further by seeking help for that addiction is a kind of bravery that so many people struggling with addiction never find with themselves, either that or they are unable to get to treatment due to inaccessible. It can be scary and it can feel impossible when you struggle with an addiction. The shame inside, the strength of chemical dependence often feels hopeless, like you’ll never be able to overcome. Going through a medical detoxification program and then rehabilitation is  incredibly difficult for anyone. If your friend or loved one just got through addiction treatment, let them know that you are proud of them. Tell them that you know how brave they have had to be to take those steps.
  • “I am here to talk if you need me.” When a person is seeking help for a chemical dependence or any kind of addiction it is so vital that they have a strong group of people who are willing to stay supportive and be in their corner. They need someone who can support them and who can listen to them when they are having second thoughts, or feeling their resilience weaken. That deep shame spiral is bound to drag people down at some point, especially when someone is just getting back from treatment.. As an addict it can be easy to believe that anyone you tell about your disorder will mock you, be appalled by your issues or be completely disappointed by your “bad behavior” or mistakes. Show your friend or loved one that they can count on you to be with them through the good and the bad.
  • “I’ll always have your back.” One of the most important things that a person struggling with addiction needs to have is a consistent friend whom they feel like they can trust. Unconditional friendship, love and genuine care are invaluable. If your friend needs anything right now it is to know for certain that there is someone who isn’t going to abandon them. If the person you are trying to support is someone very close to you, remind them of how important they are, and how much you care about them. Knowing they have someone in their corner will put them at ease and give them more confidence.
  • “I love you and I am so grateful you took the steps to get help.” One of the most difficult things for a human to do is to admit culpability. It is even harder to take the difficult steps to admit that we are struggling with something like addiction to an intoxicating substance, and need help, desperately. It takes an incomprehensible amount of strength and courage to admit that you need help for something like addiction that society says is selfish and the result of your own choices. The intense stigma that comes with addiction can be almost impossible to work past. Let your friend or the person you love who is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol know that you understand that addiction is the result of more than just their choices. Let them know that you don’t buy what society is selling when it comes to the way it approaches the pain and suffering of those who are afflicted by the disease. Show them that you know they are getting treatment for a diagnosis not their delinquency.

 

What To Do

  • “Can we go out for coffee sometime?” Invite your loved one or friend out to get coffee, or dinner and laugh. Help them feel normal for even a short amount of time. Don’t forget that even though they are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol and just got back from an alcohol detox facility, so it’s possible they will a break from talking and thinking about addiction. Tell them that you love them and that you’re glad to have them back, but be sure to let them direct the direction of the conversation, if they want to talk about their addiction or their experience at detox and rehab. As they lead the discussion, feel free to engage on whatever subjects they feel comfortable talking about. It is also totally fine to ask straight up what they feel comfortable talking about. They likely would appreciate the thoughtful candor of the gesture, and feel genuinely cared for.
  • “Can I help by watching your kids sometime?” If your friend or loved one who is afflicted with an addiction to drugs or alcohol has children, consider asking them if you could help them by babysitting sometime. It’s very difficult for a parent to find time for themselves when there are children to feed, monitor, and carefor. As a parent your kids’ needs come first, especially young ones, and a person who is just home from detox and rehab treatment may not be able to find the time to get out and take a run, go to the gym, read a book, or do some other types of necessary self carse. Offering to take care of their kids by taking them to the zoo, or out to a movie or meal, so your friend or loved one can take some time for just themselves will do so much good for them. Notably, the children of someone suffering from addiction could probably use that time also. Try to make them feel special and cared for.
  • “Would you like to take a walk or get out for a hike some time?” Getting into nature and moving their bodies is not only great for their wellbeing as well as yours but it is a superior way to hang out. It is a more healthy way to spend time together than eating greasy food or drinking too much caffeine or eating ice cream. First of all, moving your body is an excellent way for your friend or loved one to process anxiety or depression, both of which may come as a result of their addiction but also as a result of the transition of moving on from rehabilitation, and it will help you in the same way. Besides, serenity is easily found in the natural smells and sights of wilderness.

 

Finding Treatment In South Florida Rehab Centers

It doesn’t matter what you say to your friend, the most important thing is that you do not forget to say it with honesty and with compassion. If you approach your friend with a genuine openness and vulnerability of your own, reconnecting with them should be a welcome and rewarding experience for both of you. It will likely be like no time has passed, like any other good talk with your old friend or loved one.

If you know someone who is seeking treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, or you yourself are looking for help, call 1st Step Behavioral Health. We can answer your questions about treatment and help you make a plan to get sober 1st Step has top quality amenities with a licensed medical staff and a qualified therapist staff ready to create a personalized treatment plan that covers all of your loved one, or your unique needs. Call today to learn more about rehab in South Florida

 

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.