11 Things You Should Never Say To A Recovering Addict

6. “Addiction is a choice.”

There’s a stigma surrounding addiction and recovery that those who use choose to do so and choose to become addicts. This is usually coming from those who have never had a substance abuse problem or understand what it’s like to not have complete control over yourself and your body. Addiction is a disease and not a choice. David Sack M.D. states clearly:

Recovery isn’t as simple as exercising enough willpower. People do not choose to become addicted any more than they choose to have cancer. Genetics makes up about half the risk of addiction; environmental factors such as family life, upbringing and peer influences make up the other half.

5. “You need to feel bad to recover.”

People often think that the only way for an addict to recover is to feel horrible about themselves and their actions. In reality, addicts don’t need shame and self-deprecation–but, instead, need support and love. Sack says:

Many treatment centers believe confrontational, shame-based methods are necessary to motivate addicts. Quite the contrary. In addition to contributing to the stigma of addiction and deterring people from seeking treatment, research shows that shame is a strong predictor of relapse.

4. “Why did you even start in the first place?”

For struggling addicts, the reason they became addicted is a very dark and personal question–usually, one they need to work to figure out the answer. It’s not simple, nor is it black and white. Many who struggle have mental health illnesses as well or have suffered a traumatic experience (which, can be pent up or even subconscious from their childhood). It’s never cut and dry, and don’t assume there is one straight-forward answer.

3. “Get clean for me.”

No one can make an addict get clean–they themselves have to want it. While it hurts to see someone you love suffer, you can’t push them to do something they are not ready for. You can help, love, and support them–but in the end, recovering and choosing to stay clean has to come from them. Sack says:

There’s nothing more painful than seeing someone you love hurt themselves and those around them. Your natural reaction will be to shield them from the negative consequences of their actions. But picking up the pieces sometimes delays healing and extends the suffering for all of you. Instead, help them want to help themselves.

2. “It’s _______’s fault.”

There’s a stigma and misconception around addiction that there is a driving force (or influence) behind someone’s use. For example, with Demi Lovato’s recent relapse, many fans and followers blamed rapper G-Eazy, who she had been seen hanging out with recently. In reality, placing blame on other people disassociates the addict from their own recovery and process. They need to, many times According to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, take responsibility and accountability for their actions.

1. “I feel so bad for you.”

The last thing that people who are ill want is pity. The same goes for people who have Cancer, or depression, or other illnesses and disorders–they don’t want you to look down on them like a hurt puppy. Support and pity are two different things. The more you show them pity, the less likely they are to want to talk to you or open up to you.

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