How Do You Support Someone in Recovery?

A person who has decided to obtain help for his or her addiction is on the road to recovery. This individual has been brave enough to take the first step and admit that a problem exists. Now, your next task is to act as a supportive individual through this journey.


When you are close to a person who has or is suffering from an addiction, a chance exists that this individual has hurt you, and the hurt may have even be quite deeply. Before you can fully support the individual in recovery, you need to make the decision to forgive. Without forgiveness, giving your full support for recovery is going to be challenging, if not impossible. Forgiving does not mean that you need to forget about all of the pain that has been caused, leaving yourself open to immense hurt in the future, but it does mean that you need to start face the facts and deal with them accordingly.

Let the Person Talk

During recovery, your loved one is going to be attending an inpatient or outpatient program where he or she will receive professional assistance to help him or her recover from an addiction. As a supportive role, you can be available when your friend or family member is likely looking to just talk through some issues; he or she may feel insecure about being judged or pressured to make yet another decision. You are not required to step in as a professional, but as a supportive friend or family member, you can help your loved one stay on track and be aware of signs of relapse.

Remember Who the Person Is

In the recent past, the image of this individual might be tainted by his or her struggle with alcohol or drugs; try to remember that this person is more than just an addict, drug abuser, or alcoholic; he or she is the person you have always known and loved. You and the individual may be singers, artists, mothers, chefs, movie-aficionados or avid travelers. Don’t always feel that you need to talk about the addiction or how the road to recovery is going; ask questions about his new art project or talk about some movies that you know she loves or reminisce about the hiking trails you’ve conquered. A person with a drug or alcohol addiction is still a person, in or out of recovery.

Don’t Mock the Treatment

Sometimes, your family member or friend might think that some of the treatment practices are silly or ineffective because it’s so new. The person might simply express their discomfort to you, or he or she might mock the facility, a therapist or a particular practice. Of course, you want to have fun and lighten the mood, but you always want to be alert to the needs of your loved one. In joining in the mockery, you may be unintentionally agreeing with your loved one that the recovery program is foolish, permitting thoughts of quitting recovery treatment.

Maintain Contact

When your loved one goes to the treatment facility, particularly if it is an in-patient establishment, he or she is likely to feel isolated at times. You don’t want this person to feel lonely, so be sure that you maintain contact with the individual, letting him or her know that he or she is not going through recovery alone. Find out what the facility allows, for example, you might be able to visit the person at the location, and if you are allowed to do so, make it a priority. In other settings, you may be limited to phone calls or computer conversations. Whatever the case may be, one way to stay close is to make sure that you are maintaining regular contact with the individual, like you have always done, or maybe more now than before.

Supporting someone in recovery is challenging, especially if you are very close to the individual and/or you have been very hurt by the person. However, when you keep these tips in mind, you can act as an incredibly valuable support system for your loved one.

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