3 Things NOT to Say to a Recovering Alcoholic

When a friend or loved one enters recovery for a drinking problem, it can be difficult to know what to say. You want to be supportive and understanding but you don’t want to focus all of your attention toward the issue. So what do you do?

Saying the right things helps. Of course, no one expects you to say all the right things at all the right times. However, recognizing that your friend or loved one is going through a significant journey in their life is important.

Let’s go over four things that you should avoid saying as your friend or loved one’s journey to sobriety begins:

I feel so sorry for you

The last thing your friend needs right now is a pity party.


At this point in recovery, you want to provide your friend with strength, encouragement and empowerment. They are down and possibly depressed, and you don’t want to give them a reason to feel sorry for themselves. Walking around feeling sad for them will only reinforce the idea that they should be miserable, too.

All you need is the desire to change

It’s a common perception that getting over an addiction takes some simple willpower, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Addiction is a disease, and it takes a combination of therapy, behavioral changes and lifestyle changes to recover from it.

I didn’t think your drinking was out of hand

Alcoholism grabs a hold of some people and not others. No one knows why this is the case for sure, but research points in the direction of a “perfect storm” that includes genetic and environmental factors.

While your friend may have been drinking right alongside other friends in college, it may seem strange that she developed an alcohol problem while your other friends did not. But this is the way it works. The last thing your friend needs is for someone to undermine the extent of her issue.

You don’t need to make a huge deal out of the problem, but you should acknowledge its severity and the importance of getting sober.

Do you know someone who is struggling with an alcohol problem? Call The River Source to learn more about our programs for recovering alcoholics. We have been successful at helping many people achieve long-term sobriety.


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