recovering friend

How to Support Your Recovering Friend

When your recovering friend comes back from treatment, they will be in a vulnerable mental state. They’re scared, they’re ashamed, and they might feel alone.

One of the essentials of a successful recovery is having friends to be supportive of the addiction recovery process. It’s important for recovering addicts to have the encouragement they need, but when you’re the friend trying to offer support it can be tricky. How exactly do you encourage a person’s recovery?

Speak Up and Make Your Support Known

Addiction can be difficult to talk about. Friends of someone suffering from addiction or recently recovered may be unsure of how to bring up addiction in conversation or whether to mention it at all.

But when it goes unaddressed, it becomes a big elephant in the room. And as hard as it might be to be the friend who would rather shy away from the topic of the other person’s previous exploit, avoiding the topic altogether is only going to continue to make things weird.

Instead, tell your recovering friend that you support and only want the best for them. If they’ve not yet begun the recovery process, tell them that you’re there to help, but you can’t enable a downward spiral. If they’re in early recovery, tell your friend you’re there for whatever they might need.

It’s good for the person to see you as a pseudo-sponsor, someone they can vent to or ask for help whenever necessary to protect newfound sobriety.

Learn All You Can About Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, and Recovery

Another reason why it’s often difficult to discuss addiction with our recovering friends is because many of us who have not personally experienced addiction know very little about the disease beyond what we’ve seen in the media.

We can’t help but associate them with the criminal addicts that we see on TV, but that’s not fair. Nor is it accurate.

By learning about the disease of addiction, you’ll get a better idea of the circumstances that lead to addiction, how the disease works, and how best to lend your support to a recovering friend in need. If your addicted friend has very little support, your encouragement could be the difference between sustained recovery and a relapse.

When You’re Concerned, Make Sure You Tell Them

Most of us want our friends to give it to us straight, rather than sugar-coating the truth, especially when it means the difference between recovery earned and recovery lost.

It’s important to be able to tell the people we get concerned when they are behaving out-of-character. Therefore, if you have a recovering friend who has begun to exhibit behaviors that seem to indicate a possible relapse in the near future, express your concern to him or her.

Make sure you clarify that your concern isn’t simply an excuse to be critical or to nitpick. Instead, explain that you’re only expressing concern because you’re genuinely worried and don’t want your friend to fall back into the throes of addiction.

Don’t Make Excuses for Them

In recovery, many people learn that they had loved ones who either knowingly or unknowingly enabled their substance abuse problems.

Enabling is a very complicated situation that often occurs in codependent relationships. The addict uses a loved one as a means of sustaining their substance abuse while the loved one is willing to be used so as to remain relevant and important to the addict.

When an addict is in recovery, these types of situations should be rooted firmly in the past and should not still be occurring. However, if there comes a point when your recovering friend is asking you to lie for them or to cover for them, you must be strong and say no. Enabling their addiction isn’t going to make them stop or be safe. 

Refusing to enable an addict is one of the hardest things to do and might make you feel terrible, but this isn’t about you being an uncaring person. It’s the opposite. Your recovering friend has to understand that their addiction is not more important than their friendship with you.

Even if not immediately, they will have to learn that putting you in a position to do something wrong is putting their addiction before everything else. And one day, they’ll learn that putting love, support, and healthy relationships are first priority. Not addiction.

Help Your Recovering Friend Maintain a Stable Environment

After getting sober, one of the most important components of a long-lasting recovery is having a safe, stable, alcohol- and drug-free environment.

Although part of the responsibility for maintaining this safe and substance-free environment relies on the addict, you as a friend should support their efforts.

In early recovery, when an addict is confronted by alcohol or drugs, it’s incredibly difficult to resist due to the temptation. Therefore, having a friend in recovery means helping them keep a distance from alcohol and drugs, as well as people, places, things, and circumstances that might threaten his or her sobriety.

Of course, it’s not your responsibility for them to remain sober, but you also should avoid putting your recovering friend in tempting situations.

Drug Treatment Center Finder Can Help You Get Sober

If you or someone you love would benefit from a free consultation, call Drug Treatment Center Finder at 855-619-8070. Our team of recovery specialists are available day and night, seven days per week, to help you or your loved one take the first step toward lasting sobriety.