What Friends Should Avoid Doing for Their Loved Ones in Recovery

If you’re loved one or friend is recovering from addiction, there are plenty of things you can do for them. You might provide your support by cooking them a meal, accompanying them to meetings, introducing them to sober friends, spending quality time with them, and validating their positive choice to get help. There are many ways you can provide your encouragement.

However, there are also some things you may want to avoid. If you care deeply for someone who is recovering from addiction, here’s what you should not doing:

  1. Avoid Lecturing. Your friend or loved one needs to find their own way. If they’ve made it to recovery then they’re doing something right. Don’t lecture, push, moralize, bribe, or threaten. Although this sounds obvious, some people learn use these tactics because they don’t want to see the person they love in pain. However, preaching and pushing someone into anything isn’t going to work. Let them make mistakes and fall. They will know how to get back up.
  2. Avoid Covering Up. If you’d like to avoid enabling your friend or family member, then don’t lie or make excuses for them. Don’t call their boss and say they were sick when they relapsed and drank the night before. Don’t pay for something they are responsible for. Let them assume their own responsibilities.
  3. Avoid Feeling Guilty. It’s not your fault that your friend’s life is the way it is. They have made their own choices to be where they are now. Even if you’re a parent, caregiver, or older sibling, you’re not at fault.
  4. Avoid Joining Them. Obviously, if your friend or loved one is still using, then the last thing you want to do is join them. Sure, drinking and drug use feels good, it’s fun, and it can bring a sense of power and inner security, but don’t join them in that. Instead, be a reminder that substance use also brings hangovers, loss of work, ruined relationships and more.
  5. Avoid Arguing. If your loved one is still using, don’t argue with them. Fighting with them on addiction treatment, as much as you want them to go, isn’t going to work. Your loved one is going to have to make that decision on their own.
  6. Avoid Sharing Your Feelings. Instead, listen to the thoughts and feelings of your friend. Listen for what he or she is communicating underneath the words. Then, when you respond, repeat back to your friend what you heard in your own words. This strengthens trust and respect. Your friend will feel heard and understood versus being pushed or coerced into anything.
  7. Avoid Being Directive. Don’t tell your loved one what to do. Instead, ask questions to find out about his or her feelings about recover. Ask about some of the changes they are going through. Ask what his or her challenges are. Don’t attempt to know better than your friend. It may only aggravate them.

These are suggestions for supporting your recovering friend or loved in the best way possible. You may find that by staying on equal and respectful grounds, your friendship alone will be a great support for the person you care about.


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