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Seven Things to Say & Not Say to a Loved One in Rehab

Supporting addiction recovery is tough for many families, as they struggle to find the right words to say to a loved one in rehab. Choosing your words with care is important because people taking the first steps to recovery at a rehabilitation center are often in a vulnerable state.

Here are a few helpful dos and don’ts for communicating with a loved one who is currently in rehab:

Ask permission – If you want to ask questions about a loved one’s experiences in rehab or their struggle with addiction, it’s best to ask permission first. Making sure a loved one is comfortable with talking before peppering them with questions will help prevent awkward or unpleasant exchanges.

Offer to help with day-to-day tasks – If friends are about to leave for rehab, offer to check on their homes, take care of their pets, water their plants, etc. It’ll help you feel that you’re doing something concrete to aid in your friends’ recovery and will reassure your friends that their day-to-day responsibilities are covered, so they can focus on recovery.

It’s as easy as “I love you” – Men and women starting the process of recovery need the support of their friends and family. If you have family members or friends in rehab, just letting them know that they have your support and love is powerfully reassuring.

Don’t ask “When is this over?” – Recovery is a lifelong process that addicts have to stay focused on to avoid relapses. There is no end to recovery—addicts will always need some form of support or reinforcement to stay sober.

Don’t ask “Will you ever be able to just have one drink?” – Addicts don’t need to consider using drugs or alcohol again. The risk of relapse is too great. Asking them questions like this can cause anxiety and will detract from their recovery.

Avoid blame – When you have a friend or family member with an addiction problem, and that addiction problem has negatively impacted your life or the lives of people you care about, it’s easy to be angry with that person. Venting your frustration to people when they’re headed to rehab or are in rehab won’t help and may even impair their recovery. Stay positive. You can work out your issues later.

Let them know your door is open – Your friends or loved ones may not want to talk about recovery or addiction with you right away. Respect their feelings, but also let them know you are available to talk to them if they need a friendly ear.


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Yellowstone Recovery is an Orange County rehab facility that’s been helping men and women overcome addiction for more than 20 years. With personalized treatment programs provided in comfortable facilities, Yellowstone Recovery offers the safe and secure environment people need to begin the work of recovery. If you or a loved one have an addiction problem and need to make a fresh start, contact Yellowstone Recovery today.

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