A recent study found that nearly half of Americans report having a family member or close friend addicted to drugs.
Do you have a loved one seeking treatment for a substance use disorder? You may feel scared, angry, or even awkward around the situation. Rest assured that these are all normal feelings.
After all, addiction can be a frightening and complicated experience for everyone involved.
You may not know the best encouraging words for someone in rehab. Likewise, there’s a good chance that you don’t want to say the wrong thing. That said, there are a few guidelines to consider.
Let’s get into what you need to know!
What to Say to Someone in Rehab
If you have no idea how to talk to your loved one, you’re not alone. You’re probably concerned about their well-being and worried about offending or hurting them during a fragile time.
Let’s review some of the best conversation-starters you can use during your next interaction.
“I Am Here for You”
Even if you can only provide limited contact during this time, letting your loved one know that you are available for support can make a profound difference.
Getting sober is scary. It requires changing your thoughts, patterns, and behaviors. Likewise, many people in early sobriety feel lonely and unsupported during these drastic changes.
Providing a shoulder to lean on provides your loved one with invaluable peace of mind.
“I Am so Proud of You”
Just like getting sober isn’t easy, choosing to attend treatment isn’t easy, either. After all, reaching for help requires setting aside some pride and ego to make such a big decision.
Addiction can impact every area of one’s life. Taking the step to challenge that status quo is brave. It’s also incredibly scary!
It’s normal for clients to question whether they should enter or stay in treatment. Showing your support offers a sense of understanding and validation. It shows that your loved one made the right decision.
“Focus on Your Recovery First”
Even though addiction is often associated with selfishness or self-absorbed tendencies, many people struggling with this disease spend their efforts focusing on everyone else but themselves.
For example, a mother may feel guilty attending treatment because she is temporarily leaving her children. A hard-working employee may feel upset about leaving his coworkers with more work. A student may find herself distracted by staying diligent with her grades.
Let your loved one know that you want him or her to focus on recovery. That means focusing exclusively on self-growth and awareness. Remind them that they deserve this opportunity to work on bettering themselves.
“What Have You Been Learning?”
From discussing self-esteem to family dynamics to relapse prevention, comprehensive treatment targets both addiction and the underlying issues attributing to the substance use.
Exhibit your curiosity. Ask your loved one questions about their experience.
Rest assured that it’s okay if you don’t completely understand addiction. That’s not necessarily your job. There’s a good chance that your loved one will be happy to fill you in.
“What’s Been Hard for You?”
When an individual gets sober, he or she learns how to confront suppressed feelings and uncomfortable triggers. In other words, people learn a whole new way of living. Such changes, undoubtedly, have their obstacles.
Providing a nonjudgmental space indicates that it’s safe for your loved one to be honest with you. Ask your loved one what they’ve found challenging. You don’t need to provide direct advice, but you should be willing to listen.
In addiction treatment, there’s a common expression that secrets keep you sick. By opening the pathway to more transparent communication, you endorse freedom for your loved one to be vulnerable.
That said, some people will not tell you about their struggles. They may not want to worry you. Or, they may be struggling to identify the issues themselves.
Don’t pressure your loved one to give you an answer. That’s not your job. Your job is to provide a listening ear when they’re ready to talk.
“I Hope You Can Tell Your Treatment Team That”
Many friends and family know this familiar scenario. Your loved one calls you in an angry panic, telling you that they want to leave treatment- NOW. They feel slighted, angry, or just downright bored.
Either way, they’re at a point of crisis- and they’re taking it out on you!
At this point, many loved ones get panicked themselves. They start trying to control the situation or coerce their loved one to act a certain way.
Instead, it’s usually best to remain neutral. It’s not your job to “convince” anyone of anything. Instead, it’s wise to redirect your loved one to the professionals. That’s their job!
Encourage your loved one to share such concerns with their psychiatrist, doctor, counselor, or therapist. If they ask you to do it for them, be gentle but firm. It’s not your responsibility to manage their addiction care.
“I Believe in You”
Low self-esteem and addiction go hand-in-hand. Many drug users feel ashamed about their addiction. Likewise, many of them struggle with other issues, such as depression or anxiety.
For this reason, many clients doubt their own capabilities. If they’ve relapsed in the past, they may struggle with believing that they can ever stay sober.
Knowing that you believe in them can provide the much-needed encouragement during troubled times. You don’t have to elaborate further or say anything that feels inauthentic.
However, if you do honestly believe in their strength and resilience, let them know!
“How Can I Support You During This Time?”
If you’re really not sure how to encourage your loved one, it may be simple just directly to ask!
Some people will provide specific feedback. They may ask you to watch over their pets or oversee their bill payments. They may ask you to just “believe in them.”
Others will not have a direct answer. That’s okay, too. Leaving the option open lets them know that you are available and willing to help.
“I’m Seeking My Own Support”
Even if you don’t have an addiction, you may struggle with your own codependent struggles.
Addiction represents a family disease. That means every member plays a part in the dynamic. By learning to identify your part, you can learn how to set healthier boundaries for yourself and with your loved one.
Believe it or not, many people in rehab wish their families or friends would obtain their own support. After all, they shouldn’t have to be the only ones responsible for the change, right?
There are many options available if you want to seek your own support. These include:
- Peer support groups like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon
- Individual psychotherapy
- Religious or pastoral counseling
- Family therapy
Many family members resist their own treatment. They point to the individual using drugs and call him or her the “problem.” However, seeking your own support allows you to have a safe place for talking, venting, and finding viable solutions.
What Not to Say to Someone in Rehab
There are many encouraging statements or questions to ask a loved one in rehab. With that said, there are also many no-no’s. Let’s get into a few of them.
“Are You Sure You Need Rehab?”
Addiction is complicated and insidious. It’s often wrapped in layers of deceit, shame, and denial. There’s a good chance that you don’t know the true extent of how much your loved one has struggled.
If you know someone in rehab, it’s ignorant and potentially offensive to ask if they really need it.
First, it can invalidate the severity of their issues. Second, it can evoke a perception of shaming- as if it’s a negative choice to seek professional support.
“You Should Try ____.”
Well-intentioned loved ones often have numerous suggestions regarding recovery. Maybe you’re sober yourself. Maybe you read a few interesting books about addiction. Maybe you saw a friend try a particular method, and it yielded astounding results.
Before popping off advice, take a pause. There’s a good chance they’ve heard the advice before. Furthermore, you’re not the one responsible for changing or showing them the way. That’s what treatment provides!
It’s essential that you know recovery does not have a one-size-fits-all formula. Just because one way worked for someone you know (or yourself) doesn’t mean it’s the best option for your loved one.
Stay curious about their process. Ask productive questions. Don’t assume you know the only way.
“Why Can’t You Just Stop?”
Addiction isn’t simply a matter of willpower. Most people wish they could quit their habit. If it were easy, most treatment wouldn’t be necessary.
Addiction is a chronic disease and a medical condition. Relapse, therefore, can be a part of the recovery process. Furthermore, both physical and psychological dependence play a significant role in maintaining addiction.
Most people with addictions have the desire to stop using or drinking. However, without the right tools, support, or guidance, they find it impossible to do so.
“You Need to Hit Your Rock Bottom”
Treatment isn’t just for people who’ve hit their proverbial rock bottom. Every day, people decide to get sober because they want to live a better life.
Furthermore, a ‘rock bottom’ can differ wildly depending on who you ask. For one person, it may be getting fired from their job. For another, however, it may be losing their spouse and family’s trust altogether.
As a loved one, you should encourage your friend to get help no matter how severe the problem seems. You don’t want to enable the idea that they need to wait for something horrendous to happen.
“Do You Think You Have It This Time?”
As mentioned, relapse can be a part of recovery. It may be devastating and pessimistic, but it’s the truth.
It’s ignorant (and dangerous) to assume that someone totally has “got it.” This can evoke immense pressure. It can also result in a loved one lying if things do turn south.
Instead of focusing exclusively on the end results, try and take it one day at a time. This is a common thought process for addiction treatment. Focus on the present- rather than the entire journey.
“Are You Sure You Should ___?”
It’s tempting to question the decisions your loved one makes in treatment. Maybe you disagree with the new medication their doctor prescribed. Maybe you don’t like that they broke up with their significant other.
You’re not the police. You don’t enforce the laws for your loved one’s recovery, and that’s a good thing! That pressure can be exhausting.
Instead, you need to practice letting your loved ones be accountable for their actions. That means letting them make mistakes and learn lessons along the way.
It’s natural to want to shield people from pain. With that said, you can’t do recovery for anyone. You also can’t prevent people from getting hurt or making their own decisions.
Becoming intrusive is a surefire way to turn off your loved one. He or she will likely withhold information from you or lie to ‘protect you.’ This can seriously rupture the relationship you two share.
Final Thoughts on Encouraging Words for Someone in Rehab
There are several encouraging words for someone in rehab. Moreover, your patience and support can be a strong motivator in helping your loved one get well.
At Coastal Detox, we provide holistic therapies with medication-assisted treatment to provide a safe and supportive treatment.
Contact us today to speak with a treatment specialist. Let’s get you started on the path towards wellness.