Know Someone Struggling with Addiction Recovery? Never Say These 4 Things

When talking to a friend who is either in or contemplating recovery, what things may not be supportive to ask?

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When a friend or family member decides to get sober, it’s emotional for everyone. You’re thrilled to see them taking control but might not be sure about what to say. When you find yourself in this situation, here are four lines to skip altogether.

“I had no clue you had a problem.”
News flash: That was probably the point. Many addicts are extremely good at hiding their issues, and approaching the subject this way makes it about you instead of them. When someone opens up about their decision to get sober, simply say you’re proud of them and offer to be there for them, however they need.

“I know how you feel.”
No, your chocolate “addiction” isn’t the same as drug or alcohol dependency. While you might feel you’re being more supportive by drawing comparisons between your situations, false equivalence can diminish what they’re going through. Instead of trying to relate, just listen.

“How long have you been sober?”
Don’t quantify recovery; focus on quality. Many people relapse during recovery, and admitting to starting over on your soberiety count can come with a lot of shame. A better idea: Ask, in general, how their recovery is going or how they’re feeling. Yes, those are broad questions, and maybe they are comfortable talking specifics, but that should be up to them to decide.

“When are you ‘done’ with recovery?”
Unfortunately, addicts are really never done, per se. Addiction is a disease with no permanent cure, so recovery is an ongoing process your friend will have to manage for the rest of his or her life. So, when in doubt, simply be there and listen.

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