While rehab can be the best choice for someone struggling to overcome a substance abuse disorder, the decision usually doesn’t come easy. Addiction can be a highly personal issue that carries a load of shame and guilt for the individual to bear. Therefore, admitting there is a problem requires a certain level of vulnerability. Not to mention, facing life without drugs or alcohol and knowing they are essentially leaving an old life behind can be intimidating.
Watching someone you care about making the decision to enter rehab can be bittersweet. You may face conflicting emotions: relief, worry, hope and fear, for example. You may even feel sad if residential rehab is involved because of the separation involved. In any case, picking what to say to someone entering rehab or who is already in rehab can be difficult.
The support offered to someone entering or in recovery means so much to their ability to achieve sobriety. Therefore, knowing what to say and what not to say can be critically important. Below are a few pointers to keep in mind.
<h1>First, What Should You Not Say to Someone in Recovery?
When your primary goal is to offer support, certain statements that people commonly say can carry negative connotations and trigger consequences for someone who may be emotionally fragile. Take a look at a few statements to avoid saying to someone entering rehab and why.
“Do you really need rehab?”
This kind of statement places a seed of doubt. You are essentially saying you think the person can succeed without professional help. When someone enters recovery, it takes a lot of strength to decide he or she needs this help. Saying you doubt the need to enter a structured program can trigger a negative reaction. For example, the individual may feel as if you believe he or she is too weak to do it alone.
“Why did you finally decide to get sober?”
Rock-bottom or turning-point decisions can be extremely personal, and not everyone will want to share. Unless your loved one wants to share why he or she chose rehab, it can be better not to ask.
“I know how you feel.”
Each person’s journey with addiction and recovery can be unique. It is rare to fully understand what that person is going through, even if you have struggled with substance abuse in the past. It is fine to offer your empathy for what your loved one is going through, but saying you know exactly what emotions and feelings the person is feeling downplays the importance of the personal situation.
“I can’t believe you’ll never use/have a drink again!”
When someone is in recovery, the idea of never using a substance again can be daunting and weighty to consider. While recovery is a lifelong journey, highlighting this fact can put undue pressure on the individual. It is much easier to face staying sober in smaller time frames.
“You should’ve never started drinking or using drugs.”
Those with a substance use disorder already have regret about past choices. Further, no one starts using with the intention of becoming addicted. This kind of statement places more blame on the individual instead of the certifiable disease itself.
How to Talk to Someone in Rehab
While there are statements to avoid, there are just as many words of support to offer that can be beneficial. A few examples of good things to say to someone who has made the decision to recover include:
- “I’m proud you’ve made this decision.” This shows you recognize that the individual is making positive steps in the right direction.
- “How can I best support you?” This shows you are willing to offer what the person needs to succeed, such as love, forgiveness, compassion, understanding or even just a little distance.
- “How do you feel?” Asking how the individual feels shows you care about what the person is going through. It can be incredibly soothing to know someone cares about your wellbeing.
- “I believe in you.” This can be exactly what someone in recovery needs to hear because he or she often has doubts about personal worth.
- “Take it day by day.” This statement is stressed during recovery. Facing a lifetime of sobriety can be scary, but one day at a time is much more doable.
Take an Active Role in Supporting Your Loved One Through Addiction
The right words show someone in recovery you want to have an active supporting role in overcoming his or her addiction. With a good support team in place and the best rehabilitation program, success in the future is far more probable.
If you are looking for the right addiction rehabilitation options for your loved one, consider Vanguard Behavioral Health. We offer a range of addiction treatment options, including residential, outpatient and partial hospitalization in Tucson and Albuquerque. Reach out to learn more about the options available, so you can help your loved one get back on the right track.