Learn to Communicate Effectively With Someone in Rehab
It has often been said that substance use disorder, including drug addiction, alcoholism, and all other forms of dependency, are family illnesses. If you have been through it, you know just how true this old cliché really is.
When one member of the family is addicted to alcohol or drugs, every other member of the family suffers as well. They may not suffer to the same extent, and they surely do not experience it the same way, but the suffering is there.
Knowing what to say to someone in rehab could make all the difference during these delicate situations, and taking the time to educate yourself and your family members will be a critical part of supporting the person you love. You have worked hard to get your loved one into rehab, and you do not want to ruin it all with an ill-advised comment.
What to Say to a Loved One in Rehab
It is not always easy to know what to say to someone in rehab, but it is still important to try; but here is what you should say to a loved one in recovery:
- Express your pride in their hard work and recovery – Going through rehab is a complicated process, and your loved one should be justifiably proud of how far they have already come. Express your pride in how well they are doing and let them know they have the strength to carry on.
- Reassure them that you are there for moral support – You cannot go through rehab with your loved one, but you can walk by their side, at least in spirit. Express your desire to do just that and let your family member know you are there for them, and you will be happy to provide the support and guidance they need.
- Encourage them to focus on their recovery first – Worrying about family, kids, and work will only make recovery more challenging, so encourage your loved one to focus entirely on their recovery. You can also reassure them that you have everything else handled, so they can work on themselves while you work on those other issues.
- Ask about what they have been learning – Your family member will learn a lot about addiction and recovery, and you can learn a lot by asking them about it. Ask your loved ones what they have been learning along the way.
- Inquire about what has been hard for them – Rehab is not an easy journey, so ask your loved one what has been the most challenging part. Learning about their struggles can help you fine-tune your support efforts, and the more you know, the easier that job will be.
- Think about what they can tell the recovery team – Recovery is a team effort, and you can provide input where that input is appropriate. If you have something that should be shared with the team, you can ask your loved one to relay it.
- Let them know you believe in them – Simply letting your loved one know that they are supported can help a lot, so provide them with that reassurance.
- Share your education and discoveries about addiction – You will want to learn about the recovery process in rehab, so share what you have learned.
- Ask how you can provide support – It is not always easy to know what kind of support is needed, so do not be afraid to ask. Ask you what you can do to provide more and better support so that you can help your loved one heal during rehab and beyond.
What Not to Say to Someone in Rehab
Knowing what to say to someone in rehab is essential, but sometimes it is what you do not say that matters most. As your loved one struggles through detox and recovery, they will look to you for strength and support, and being there is now a big part of your job.
Saying the wrong thing could easily override all the work you did, including educating yourself on what to say to someone in rehab. One negative comment could undo days of positive influence, so watch your tongue and avoid saying these things:
- Are you sure you need this? Questioning the need for treatment is one of the worst things to say to someone in rehab, and expressing it out loud will sow doubt and make their current recovery efforts that much more difficult.
- You should try… – The staff at the rehab center know what they are doing, so stay in your lane and let them do their job. You can offer support and compassion, but recovery tips should be left to the experts.
- Why can’t you stop drinking or using drugs? There is a common misconception that alcoholics can stop drinking and addicts can stop using drugs through sheer force of will, but neither one of those myths is true.
- I guess you’ve got to hit rock bottom – The myth about hitting rock bottom is a harmful one, and it is often untrue. Unfortunately, there are always lower lows an addict in active addiction can reach. Even if you think it is true, keep it to yourself.
- Do you think you will succeed this time? – Reminding a recovering addict of their past failures will do nothing but shatter their self-esteem and put their current stint in rehab at risk. Focus on how good they are doing now, not how badly they have fared in the past.
It’s always important to choose your words wisely and think about the impact of what you say, but it’s even more critical when you have a loved one attending rehab. To you, rehab may seem like a vacation, but it is anything but to the individual involved in addiction. Making it through detox and rehab represent significant accomplishments, and no one gets there on their own. So as the person you care about works their way toward recovery, you can do your part by being supportive, staying positive, and knowing what to say to someone in recovery.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.