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How Should I Talk to a Newly Sober Person?

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Do you know someone who is in the early stages of recovery?  If so, you may be slightly anxious about being around the person.  Wondering what to say or do in the presence of a newly sober person can be confusing and stressful.  It is helpful if you understand the recovery process and what the person is going through.

Although you mean well and want to help your friend or loved one, it’s easy for the wrong words to slip out now and then.  So, let’s explore what it’s like to be in recovery and what you can do to help the newly sober person.

Understanding the Recovery Process 

Overcoming addiction requires determination and patience.  The individual is going through a difficult transition from the security of rehab to a world filled with temptations.  They must be on alert for triggers and know how to react when confronted by one.  Each day is a challenge that may seem impossible to manage at times.  

Some newly sober people feel they must prove themselves to everyone.  This mindset creates a lot of pressure and stress for the individual.  Fear of failure and relapse keeps them on edge and may interfere with their ability to socialize comfortably.  

Being in recovery may involve saying goodbye to old friends if they still drink or use drugs.  Breaking ties and finding new, sober friends can be a difficult and sad experience for a newly sober person.  

All in all, overcoming addiction means letting go of the past and starting a new life.  So, if you want to help your recovering friend or loved one succeed in this goal, here are some tips on what to say or do to show your support:

Don’t Hesitate to Vocalize Praises or Concerns

Your newly sober friend needs to know you respect their struggle.  If you have concerns, voice them in a calm, non-judgmental way.  Try to avoid using condescending phrases.  You should let the person know you respect what they’ve accomplished and that you realize what a challenge it has been.

Be a Good Listener During the Recovery Process 

Sometimes a person in recovery needs someone to talk to without having to hear a lot of advice or sermonizing.  Talking about fears or emotions helps a person gain a deeper understanding of themselves.  Being a good listener is an effective way to give support.

Be Compassionate and Sensitive

Most people in the recovery process are struggling with emotional or mental health issues.  They often lack confidence and may have low self-esteem. The person needs to know they can be honest with you without fear of judgment. As a friend or family member, you can have a significant influence on their ability to manage those issues.  

Avoid being confrontational or interrogative, and never nag.  Also, avoid using labels such as “recovering addict.”  Instead, use the phrase “person recovering from substance use disorder” when referring to your friend or loved one.  

Be Aware of Potential Triggers

If you want to take your newly sober friend out for an evening of fun, avoid places that promote drug or alcohol use.  Talk to your friend or loved one before making plans.  You don’t want to place the person in a triggering situation.  The most common triggers for a newly sober person may include, but are not limited to:

  • People.  Avoiding the individuals who encouraged or shared drugs or alcohol is vital to preventing relapse.  It may mean finding a new set of people to socialize with.  You can help by joining your friend or loved one in this endeavor.
  • Places.  A newly sober person should avoid all bars, restaurants, or other places they associate with their past drinking and drug use days.  
  • Things.  Someone in recovery must avoid any objects that remind them of their substance use. The objects may be items such as empty wine and liquor bottles, empty pill bottles, or movies, books, or magazines that encourage substance use.  

Someone who is the midst of the recovery process has more control over external triggers.  These things can be disposed of or avoided.  However, managing internal triggers such as loneliness, sadness, depression, guilt, and fear may require ongoing support from friends and family.

Don’t Hover

A newly sober person needs support, not constant surveillance.  Don’t make your friend feel that you are watching their every move for signs of relapse. Ask if you can help with something rather than insisting on doing it. A person who is in the recovery process must learn to rely on their own resourcefulness for handling daily responsibilities.  Remember, it’s not up to you to rescue your friend or loved one from their past mistakes.  

How We Enhance the Recovery Process at Design for Change 

At Design for Change Recovery, we understand that addiction is a complex disorder composed of mental, emotional, and physical issues that must be addressed simultaneously for lasting results.  For that reason, we provide a comprehensive, individualized approach to treatment that works.  But, we don’t stop there.  

We want clients to succeed in their recovery goals. So, upon completion of our treatment program, we encourage them to participate in our aftercare program. The ongoing support and guidance are essential for staying on track during the transition from rehab to the outside world.

Learn more about our programs by contacting our Lancaster, CA facility today.  One of our representatives will be happy to assist you in any way.

How Should I Talk to a Newly Sober Person?