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Words Matter: How to Support a Friend in Recovery

by Landmark Recovery

April 15, 2021
friends sending speedy recovery messages for a friend in rehab

Words Matter: How to Support a Friend in Recovery

Good communication is the foundation of every good relationship—but it’s not always easy sending speedy recovery messages for a friend in rehab. Even when both parties are well-adjusted and healthy individuals, communication can be a challenge. But what happens when you’re trying to talk with someone who’s struggling with sobriety?

Let’s Talk About How To Support A Friend In Recovery

You want to treat your friend in recovery just like you used to because, well, they’re your friends! It’s not like they’re a completely different person. And besides, isn’t it almost worse to treat them like they’re sick or delicate? Isn’t that kind of patronizing?

Well, yes and no. Of course, they’re still your friend, but chances are, they’re also different. They’re not the same as they were before rehab or before their addiction.

Tips For Sending Speedy Recovery Messages For A Friend in Rehab

If you’re wondering how to support a friend in recovery, we’ve got some handy tips for you:

Avoid Labels 

Much of the stigma surrounding addiction and substance abuse comes from how we think and speak about it. Don’t refer to people as ‘junkies,’ ‘addicts/abusers,’ ‘crackheads,’ ‘tweakers,’ ‘alcoholics/alkies,’ or ‘drunks.’ Instead, try saying this: “he/she has a substance use disorder” or “he/she is struggling with addiction.”

Ask Questions

Let your friend know that you support them in sobriety. Ask how you can help them in their journey. Ask what words and/or actions are triggering for them, and then be conscious of that. Make yourself physically and emotionally available to support your friend when they need you.

Listen to What They Have to Say

Don’t assume you know what your friend is thinking or feeling about their recovery. Just hear them out, don’t put words in their mouth, and be sympathetic. Speak when the occasion calls for it. Beyond conversations about recovery, they’re still your friend, and sobriety doesn’t have to be the only thing you talk about. In fact, they’ll probably want to talk about normal stuff most of the time—which is a good thing to keep in mind when you’re sending speedy recovery messages for a friend.

Be Patient

Recovery is a long journey, and it takes time. There will be better days and worse days, but it’s important to remember that recovery isn’t linear. Kindness and patience can go a long way.

Don’t Judge

It might be difficult for you not to judge, but it’s important for your friend to feel safe and loved in your presence. Whatever you may think about your friend’s substance abuse, they’ve probably thought it first. They may be angry, embarrassed, or ashamed of themselves, so having someone else reinforce that judgment isn’t helpful to them.

Don’t Use Or Talk About Substances

Even if they say it’s okay, you’re still putting the onus on them to ‘be alright’ with you talking about substances. In the early stages of recovery, it’s best to avoid scenarios that involve substances entirely.

Find New Bonding Activities

If you and your friend used to go out partying and drinking all the time, be aware that that aspect of your relationship is going to be dramatically different. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends anymore. It just means you have to find new ways to have fun together. Think of it as a learning opportunity for both of you.

Recovery isn’t easy, and neither is supporting a friend’s sobriety. There is more that you can do then just sending speedy recovery messages for a friend in rehab. With commitment to the journey, your friendship can come out stronger on the other side.

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, we can help. Find a Landmark Location near you.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.