4 Things NOT To Say To Someone Battling Addiction

4 THINGS NOT TO SAY TO SOMEONE BATTLING ADDICTION

What NOT to say to someone battling addiction

It is normal to try to talk a loved one with substance abuse out of their addiction. This can be a challenging process particularly when your loved one isn’t ready to face their addiction. Most people have well intentions when addressing a loved ones addiction but oblivious to how hurtful or triggering their words are. 

The fact of the matter is no one indulges in substance use with the goal of becoming addicted. Addiction is a disease that affects family and friends of the user. Most people struggling with addiction are well aware of the toll it takes on their relationships, careers, and finances. While an addicted loved one’s behavior can be frustrating, the last thing they need is demoralizing statements. The goal should be getting your loved one help. Here are 4 things you should avoid saying to your loved one struggling with addiction.

1. Why can’t you just stop?

Addiction is a psychological disease, much like depression or anxiety. It doesn’t just take willpower to quit. Alcohol and drugs alter the way the brain works; it essentially rewires the brain. So what seems like the obvious and easiest thing to do becomes the hardest. Also, most people battling addiction are well aware that they NEED to stop, in fact, they WANT to stop. Asking an addicted person to stop using is like asking someone who is sick to just get better, without offering how they can get better. For example, drink more fluids, eat more vegetables, and rest  in order to get over the flu. In comparison, you could tell an addicted person to seek counseling and join a medication assisted treatment (MAT) program in order to overcome their addiction. Statements like “why can’t you just quit?” communicates that you don’t think they’re trying hard enough or they’re weak. Instead, suggest tools that help them quit.

2. Going cold turkey is the way to quit

While quitting “cold turkey” may be the ideal way, it is often dangerous and not sustainable. Abruptly ceasing the use of a repeatedly used addictive substance can cause seizures, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, aches, anxiety, abdominal cramps, and cold sweats. These are known as “withdrawal symptoms”. If not managed by a medical professional, these withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening at worst and drive a person to relapse at the very least. Quitting cold turkey increases the chances of relapsing. 

3. You will never change

This is perhaps the most dangerous thing you could say to a loved one struggling with addiction. That statement invokes hopelessness. It isolates your loved one and drudges up feelings of worthlessness, shame, and misunderstanding. The ramifications could include them relapsing, giving up recovery and your loved one believing those words. It is imperative to remain optimistic even when the addiction is worsening. Given the difficulty of this, it is advisable to create healthy boundaries with your loved one that let them know they are supported though the road to become free from addiction. Change is very possible for a person addicted to drugs.

4. You should be ashamed of yourself

There is often a considerable amount of shame and guilt a person with an addiction already feels. In the words of Brene Brown, shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. Addiction thrives on shame and alienation. Adding to an addicted person’s feelings of shame leads to further drug use. Shaming them could bring on more disconnection and further de-humanizing them. Instead, empathy should be shown.  


SteadyHand Recovery is dedicated to providing care to all who battle opioid addiction during this crisis and beyond. Visit us at www.steadyhandrecovery.com to start or continue treatment today.

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Steadyhand Recovery is an Addiction treatment Clinic offering rehab services in the greater Philadelphia area to help those with opioid dependencies master their addictions and change their life’s narrative for the better. Call now to speak with one of our addiction specialist and start your road to recovery today.