What Not To Say To A Recovering Alcoholic
One of the most important factors for a recovering alcoholic in staying sober is the support of friends and family. Developing a strong support network of caring people is crucial to helping a recovering alcoholic. Even when she feels strong in recovery, know that there will be moments of weakness. These are the times when she should be able to lean on you and other supportive friends. With that in mind, understand how important your role is and be sensitive to your friend’s needs. Think before you speak and avoid saying something that will hurt her feelings or her recovery.
Be Careful To Not Say These Things To A Recovering Alcoholic
You’re Not Really An Alcoholic
Nothing could be more insensitive than belittling your friend’s struggles. Whether or not your friend describes herself an alcoholic is not up to you to decide. Even if you were along for the ride, you have no idea what her battle is really like. Only she can know that. Also understand that alcoholics in recovery are still alcoholics. The disease of addiction is one that is lifelong. Your friend will always struggle to resist the urge to drink. Don’t downplay that struggle.
I Feel So Bad For You That You Can Never Drink Again
Pity is the last thing a recovering alcoholic needs. She also doesn’t need to be reminded of the fact that she can’t drink anymore, possibly ever. What she does need is your support in being sober. This doesn’t mean you can’t drink anymore. It does mean that you can play up the other great things you can do in life without drinking. Instead of feeling sorry for her, get her to join you for non-drinking activities. Work out together. Hang out in coffee shops. Become volunteers together for a cause that is important to both of you. Help her embrace a sober life and see how great it can be without alcohol.
You Just Need More Willpower
Nothing is more offensive to a recovering addict than a discussion of willpower. If you don’t understand the disease of addiction, read up on it. Being addicted is about much, much more than simple willpower. Addiction is not a failing in your friend; it is a medical condition. She required treatment and support to stop drinking. Willpower alone cannot help any addict. Thinking that it can is an insult to your friend and her struggles.
Let’s Meet At That Bar We Used To Like
Your friend in recovery may be strong and firm in her sobriety, but you should never assume that she is OK with meeting up in a bar. It is especially insensitive to suggest a bar in which she used to drink. Addicts need to avoid triggers in order to resist the urge to relapse. She may be comfortable being around alcohol, or even other people who are drinking, but let her bring up that fact. Never make that assumption for her. She may go along just to prove her strong sobriety, but it could end up being a mistake. Instead, suggest that you hang out at home, at a café or coffee shop, a park or anywhere else but a bar.
Being a friend to a recovering alcoholic is not always easy. Some days it may feel like walking through a minefield. If you are sensitive to your friend and her needs and you think about what you say before it comes out of your mouth, you can be the good, supportive friend that she really needs.