There are many different types of life struggles that can make for awkward social interactions. For example, people don’t always know how to talk to someone who has just lost a loved one. In other cases, people struggle to find appropriate things to say to those struggling with recurrent miscarriages or infertility.
Unfortunately, awkward feelings or sometimes just plain ignorance can prompt people to say things that hurt others who have overcome addiction and are in recovery. Whether you’re a support person, friend, or relative of someone who is recovering, here are five things you should never say. If you have a loved one suffering from drug addiction take a look at what addiction experts have to say about addiction recovery treatment.
“I would have never guessed…”
Many people who have never fought addiction are surprised to learn that addiction affects all kind of people, including those who function quite well in their daily lives, even as they grapple with drug or alcohol dependency. Many people have a “Hollywood view” of addiction as someone who is homeless or in prison. The reality is that substance abuse takes many forms. Saying someone does not “look like an addict” implies that all types of addiction must look a certain away or fit some kind of profile. It can also make a person feel like their addiction is not real or serious enough to merit help.
“I totally understand. I’m addicted to chocolate!”
When confronted by a serious or heavy subject, it’s human nature to sympathize. However, comparing a drug or alcohol addiction to a soda addiction or an affinity for sweets belittles a struggle that can destroy a person’s life.
“Come on, just one drink won’t hurt you.”
For people who have overcome alcohol addiction, sobriety is a lifelong process. Encouraging a friend or loved one in recovery to indulge in a drink is an enabling behavior that can lead to relapse.
“Can’t you just stop?”
For people who struggle with alcohol or drug dependency, “just stopping” is almost never possible. Alcohol and drugs cause chemical changes in the brain, which is why so many people with substance abuse disorders require medical detox. Without a doctor’s supervision, quitting can also be dangerous and even deadly.
“My father had that. It destroyed my parents’ marriage.”
You can substitute “father” for “friend,” “co-worker,” “neighbor” or any other relative or acquaintance. The point is that telling someone in recovery about another person whose addiction ultimately led to a negative outcome is a toxic comment that can cause significant hurt. It’s like telling someone who just had a heart attack about an uncle who died after finding out he had heart disease. These are negative words that have the potential to do tremendous harm.
Start Your Path to Lasting Recovery Today
Summit Behavioral Health treats alcohol and drug addiction, including co-occurring disorders, such as bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. Call today to explore your treatment options. Local treatment centers are available to help you where you live. Call 1-844-64-DETOX.
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