Recovery for substance abuse requires a lot of work and commitment and saying the right things to our loved ones who are in recovery may seem challenging because we want to support them but do not want to say the wrong thing. Offering a thoughtful and supportive comment to an individual who is in recovery for drugs or alcohol can make a positive impact at a time when that individual may need it the most. One of the most important things is to take an empathetic tone and ask open-ended questions without any form of judgment. After all, you are here to support your loved one through their recovery, and knowing what to say to a loved one who is in recovery can make all the difference.
“I respect that you stepped up and did something about your addiction. Recovery takes a lot of courage, and you have my support.”
Expressing to your loved one that you respect them for their decision to enter recovery and to change their life around can bring a sense of ease to your loved one. It is common for individuals in recovery to fear what others think about them, and they may be anxious about this judgment. Offering your support and commending them on their decision and progress and is not only a commendable way to provide support, but it can also help break down the stigma associated with substance abuse and recovery.
“What have you been learning?”
Asking about what your loved one has learned in recovery and how recovery has helped them is a great way for you to try to understand their journey and show that you are curious about their treatment program and progress. There are so many different treatment dynamics in recovery, and more than likely, the individual has been on a journey of self-discovery through their recovery process.
“What has been challenging for you?”
Asking your loved one in recovery about their challenges and hardships allows them to be truthful about their battle and to share their secrets with you potentially. Providing a nonjudgmental space indicates that it is safe for your loved one to be honest with you. Ask your loved one what they have found challenging. You do not need to provide direct advice, but you should be willing to listen. Of course, the individual may not feel comfortable sharing this with you, and if that is the case, then do not take it personally and give them space.
“What can I do to help you?”
Maybe you were friends with this individual before recovery, and your relationship has been on the rocks. Perhaps you even used to drink alcohol with this individual, and maybe you feel guilty because of this. Asking your loved one how you can help them, whether it is going to a meeting with them, discussing your relationship with them, or offering a ride if they in an environment where they feel triggered are great ways to be actively involved in your loved one’s recovery. Sometimes individuals have a hard time asking for help because they do not want to burden others, or maybe they do not know how to ask for help. By asking your loved one, how you can help, it takes the pressure off of them.
“Are you okay with…?”
Whether you are inviting your loved one to a party or a restaurant, it is essential to ask your loved one if they are okay with potentially being around other individuals who are not sober. By asking this question, it shows you respect their sobriety and care about how they feel.
“Now that you are in recovery, I hope we can talk about…”
Often when loved ones enter recovery, they may have said hurtful words or acted in harmful ways towards individuals who were trying to help them. Making amends is a significant step in the recovery process, and sometimes, it can be awkward to address how your love hurt you when they were using. By wording it in an open-ended manner, this approach acknowledges that you know they are no longer in the same state of mind that they were in the past while opening the door to discuss an important topic. This also allows them to decide to engage in the conversation. If they do not feel safe revisiting the past just yet, they have the opportunity to say so and redirect the conversation.