When a friend, family member, or romantic partner struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, communication is one of the first things to suffer. Up until now, it may be hard to communicate with each other without guilt, shame, fear, or anger looming over the conversation. But now that your loved one is committed into rehab, it’s more important than ever to stay connected to them.
Saying the right things will help them feel less isolated, as well as motivate them to take charge of their recovery. But the words may also have a healing effect on you. They may restore the trust, openness, and comfort you had in the relationship before addiction took its toll.
When a friend or loved one struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, saying the right things will help them feel less isolated, as well as motivate them to take charge of their recovery.
Sometimes the conversations you’ll have with your loved one while they’re in rehab will be on the vague and open-ended side. That’s perfectly normal, as they may not have a lot of things to tell at you at first. They may also need some additional time to confide in you about their rehab experience. However, if either of you will benefit from some prompting, here are some very good things to say to encourage someone in rehab.
“You Are Brave”
One thing that your loved one needs to hear is that they made the right choice to go to rehab. For sure, the choice wasn’t an easy one, and they are likely scared about treatment or about acclimatizing to life after treatment. It will lift their spirits if you tell them that they’re brave for acknowledging the problem—and actively doing something about it.
“I Respect You”
Many suffering from addiction wrestle with feelings of shame, inadequacy, and low self-esteem as a result of what they’ve gone through. They may also think that you no longer respect them or hold them to high regard. It’s important to tell them the opposite: that you respect them and that you believe in them.
“I Know It’s Not Easy”
Most people think the rehabilitation process is as easy as checking in, checking out, and then leaving sober. But the road to full recovery is full of bumps. There’s even a chance that your loved one will relapse. It will make a big difference for you to affirm that rehab isn’t easy, and that there are definite stumbling blocks to healing. That way, they can forgive themselves for any mistakes and be less discouraged about their rehabilitation journey.
“This Isn’t the End of the Road”
Your loved one may think that the addiction has ruined their life irreparably. Perhaps they no longer see a successful future for themselves in school, at work, or in front of their friends and families. Tell them that this isn’t a permanent strike on their record, and that there are ways to rebuild their lives after rehab. If they’re ready to discuss these matters with you, you can explore future career opportunities, bridging programs, or advocacies together.
“Please Focus on Your Recovery Before Anything Else”
The fact that they can’t be there for you may be a huge source of guilt for your loved ones. They may be extremely worried about not contributing income, not taking care of their kids, and generally being a burden on others. This is when you can tell them to put themselves and their recovery first. Only once they’ve completed their treatment will they be in a good position to help out again.
“Trust in Your Own Recovery Process”
Rehab can be a pressuring thing for your loved one. Maybe they’ve given themselves an internal deadline to achieve sobriety, or maybe they’re comparing themselves to others undergoing rehab. If this is the case, they may be harsh on themselves or not giving themselves enough of a chance. You can tell them to breathe, relax a little, and trust that they will recover at the pace that’s best for them.
“What Have You Learned So Far?”
When your loved one is at the point where they’d like to talk freely about their treatment, you can encourage them to do so. It will be especially heartening if you ask questions about what they’ve learned, what they find helpful, and what they’re having difficulty with.
“Let’s Work Things Out Together”
Things can get very lonely at rehab, and at some point your loved one may feel like they’re the only one involved in the process. And it’s also highly likely that the addiction itself isn’t the only thing they’re struggling with. The true roots of their addiction problem—such as their relationships, career, money matters, and the like—are probably weighing them down. Let them know that these are issues they don’t have to handle alone. You are one more person who can work things out with them, in the capacity that you are able to help.
“What Can I Do to Help You?”
Speaking of “help,” it may be a rather abstract concept to either you or your loved one. But if you volunteer the question, they may be able to verbalize how exactly you can support them. Maybe the support they need is regular conversation, or if they’re religious, maybe they’d like for you to pray with them. The right kind of support looks different for individual rehab patients, so be sure you understand exactly what it is that your loved one needs.
“You Matter and You Are Loved”
This is the simplest of things you can say to someone recovering from addiction, but one that will make a world of difference. Perhaps they have always had difficulty thinking of themselves as cherished or special to anyone. The stigma of drug or alcohol addiction may have made it even harder. Simple expressions of love, care, and validation will count for a lot in their healing process. Once they realize that they are loved and that they matter to the world, they will be one big step ahead in their recovery.
It’s important to consider how your loved ones are feeling during rehab. But don’t forget to stay attuned to your own emotions, too. You don’t have to put up a front and pretend that everything is okay on your end. It’s normal to have mixed emotions while your loved one is undergoing rehab. You could feel scared and stressed out at the same time that you feel relieved and hopeful.
You have your own role to play in your loved one’s rehabilitation, and they will have lots to thank you for. Encourage them today, and enjoy a good life together after they’ve made a full recovery.
What are your suggestions for positive and helpful things to say to someone in rehab?
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