What to Avoid Saying to a Recovering Alcohol Addict

Posted in Counselling

What to Avoid Saying to a Recovering Alcohol Addict

Before, during and after treatment from the UK’s alcohol rehabilitation centres, friends and family can play one of the biggest roles in helping addicts recover. It’s the support of loved ones that can make all the difference, throughout the process from beginning to end. But at the same time, it can often be difficult to know what to say, what to do and what to avoid saying at all costs.

Friends and family always have the best intentions, but there are certain common mistakes to avoid when it comes to general conversation and support. Of course, how any given individual reacts to anything across the board will vary enormously from one person to the next. You want to and really must speak from the heart, rather than giving the impression that what you had said is either fabricated or taken straight from a textbook. Nevertheless, certain statements have a habit of proving counterproductive more often than not and therefore are best to avoid.

Here’s a quick rundown of just a few examples:

1 – We All Feel So Sorry For You

First of all, you would be forgiven for assuming that this particular utterance would display nothing but kindness, caring and empathy for their situation. However, the reality of things can be quite different as to express your feelings in such a way is to transform something proactive into a pity party. Suffice to say, this is exactly not what the person you’re looking to help needs right now. It’s always better to err on the side of positivity, empowerment and a general focus on the future. Pity doesn’t get anyone anywhere and can instead stand to make people sorrier for themselves than they already are. Even if you do feel sorry for them, you need to think of other ways of expressing yourself.

2 – All You Need Is Willpower

It’s certainly accurate to state that willpower is of critical importance as part of the treatment and recovery process. However, to suggest that it all comes down to willpower is to display a complete and total lack of knowledge and understanding, with regard to what the person in question is going through. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse take an enormous toll on physical and mental health alike. Which in turn means that even with all the willpower in the world, it may not be even remotely possible to recover without professional intervention. Willpower will help a recovering addict along the way, but is only one piece of a much larger puzzle.

3 – Your Problem Wasn’t Actually So Bad

You may feel as if telling the person in question that they weren’t really that bad previously will help them move away from blaming themselves and wallowing in guilt. Unfortunately, it can also be a counterproductive statement to make. This is because having entered into a course of treatment, they have made incredible progress by acknowledging their past, accepting their mistakes and working to make improvements to their life. If you try to make them think their situation really wasn’t so bad before, there’s a chance you may end up undoing much of the positive work done so far.

4 – What Are You Thinking? Are You OK?  How Are You Feeling?  

Try to remember that there is a big difference between proactively helping a recovering addict along the way and constantly bombarding them with questions. There’s a very fine line between the kind of questioning that is helpful and that which comes across like the Spanish Inquisition. If they for one moment get the feeling they are being interrogated rather than spoken to, you have well and truly crossed the line into unhelpful territory. Encouraging conversation is great, asking questions can also be useful and remaining open-minded is critical. Just be careful not to go too far and turn each day into a day-long interview.

5 – It’s All So Horrible and Unfortunate

Last up, it’s not as if it’s necessarily a good idea to make light of the subject, but at the same time you don’t want to continually remind them of the doom and gloom involved in it all. It’s one thing to sympathise, but it’s something else entirely to continually go on and on about how horrible it all is. In doing so, you will inevitably turn the whole thing into the most hideous chore from hell and the kind of subject that’s best avoided. Even though it’s not exactly an enjoyable subject or a happy time, you must be sure to focus on the positives at all times and stay away from the darker side of things.