Substance use disorder (SUD) is a chronic mental health condition, and many people in recovery go through times when they struggle to stay sober.
Withdrawal symptoms, triggers, and cravings can make recovery difficult, even when taking part in a treatment program.
If your friend or relative experiences difficulties quitting drug or alcohol use, here are some things you can say to them to offer your support.
Express Pride For Your Loved One
On a logical level, your loved one may fully understand that struggling with sobriety, like struggling with the symptoms of any mental health condition, is not a shameful thing.
Even so, they may still feel ashamed on a deeper level. Drug addiction itself often creates shame, and the societal stigma surrounding addiction can worsen it.
You can help by expressing pride for your friend and their recovery process. A simple “I’m so proud of you” can go a long way.
Emphasize Their Efforts And Victories
Imagine working on a major project that you have never done before, such as painting a masterpiece or building a house from the ground up.
You will likely experience setbacks during this project, and it will take you a long time to finish it.
Now, imagine that instead of noticing your hard work, your loved ones only pointed out your mistakes and the parts of your project that you have not finished yet.
People struggling to stay sober often experience similar feelings. Starting the recovery journey is far from easy, and it becomes even more difficult when people only notice their mistakes and setbacks.
Try to take some time to notice your friend’s efforts and victories, and offer encouraging words.
For example, you might say something like “Hey, I know it must have been really hard to avoid drinking alcohol at that party, but I’m really proud of you for turning down that drink.”
Provide Specific Offers For Help
If you’ve been through difficult times, you may have heard somebody tell you to let them know if you needed anything.
Even if this person was completely sincere, and even if you absolutely needed some help, you may not have contacted this person.
We tend to avoid accepting this well-meaning offer because of its vagueness. We don’t want to over-burden people, and sometimes, we know we need something but aren’t sure what it is.
If somebody struggling with addiction hears this offer, they may feel the same way, especially if drug use has caused clouded thinking, which is a common effect of drug addiction.
Instead, you might offer specific types of help, such as:
- visiting your loved one at their treatment center
- preparing their meals while they attend outpatient treatment
- for family members, attending family therapy
- helping with household and self-care tasks such as laundry
- helping them find treatment options and recovery support
Ask If They Want To Spend Time With You
When a person goes through a difficult situation, friends and family members may avoid speaking to them out of fear of saying the wrong thing.
However, this approach can leave people feeling lonely and alienated, especially when they experience an isolating condition such as drug or alcohol addiction.
You can help your loved one feel less isolated by spending time with them. Again, providing a specific offer will take some of the burden away from this person.
Suggest specific activities that do not involve drugs or alcohol, such as going to coffee shops or watching movies with them at home.
Other Ways To Support A Loved One’s Addiction Recovery
In addition to offering supportive words, there are several other things you can do to support a loved one’s recovery.
These options include:
- learning about substance abuse and related behavioral health conditions
- learning about relapse triggers and avoiding them around your loved one
- attending support groups, such as Al-Anon, for loved ones of people in recovery
- taking care of your own health and wellness
- getting to know your loved one’s sober friends
Get Help For Addiction
Addiction is complicated and difficult, but it is a treatable condition.
If you or a loved one experience substance abuse, you’re not alone. Contact Detox Rehabs today to discover addiction treatment facilities.Article Sources
- American Psychiatric Association — What Is A Substance Use Disorder?
- New York State Office Of Addiction Services And Supports — Understanding And Supporting A Loved One’s Recovery
- Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration — Resources For Families Coping With Mental And Substance Use Disorders