Supporting our sober friends is essential in maintaining their sobriety and providing them with the encouragement and understanding they need. This article will guide you through various ways to be a good friend to a recovering loved one, including effective communication, offering positive reinforcement, finding alternative activities, and educating yourself on sobriety and alcohol addiction. Following these guidelines can create a supportive environment that helps your friends and family stay on their sober journey and fosters their overall well-being.
Understanding the Sobriety Journey
Understanding the sobriety journey can help you better support a loved one who is either just coming out of private rehab or if they have been sober for a long time. At The Providence Projects, we share that sobriety is a personal and ongoing process in which each person’s journey is unique. If you come to our family or couples therapy sessions for advice on how to help a recovering loved one, we will guide you through the ways in which you can support them by respecting their choices and decisions.
Avoid making assumptions or judgments about their past or future actions. Instead, focus on being a non-judgmental listener and providing a safe space for your friend to share their experiences and challenges. If you have been through rehab yourself, share ideas and solutions with them. Nonetheless, do not expect your ways to be the best for everyone in recovery. As every human’s history is unique, so are the ways in which we heal.
If you have not been through rehab yourself and this is your first encounter with someone with an addiction, educating yourself about addiction and recovery will help you understand their struggles.
Common post-rehabilitation struggles for people with an addiction:
- Returning to the same environment which caused the addiction in the first place
- Returning to a society in which there is not enough understanding of their situation
- Mental health triggers: Stress, anxiety, PTSD and trauma triggers
- Chemical disbalances
- Lack of support and a shoulder to lean on when in need
- Being blamed by others for past mistakes, making it seem useless to stay clean as they ‘are responsible anyway’.
- Lack of adequate medical support
Offer encouragement and celebrate their successes, no matter how small. Remember, recovery is a lifelong commitment, and your support can make a significant difference in their journey towards a healthier and happier life.
We are dedicated to supporting our alumni in their recovery journey. So, please contact our team for information and advice if your loved one has gone through rehab with us. We are here to help and find a good solution to any ongoing events.
Struggling with Addiction?
We are here to help.Contact Us
Communicating and Listening with Empathy
Listening with empathy is key to effectively communicating with your sober friends. Creating a safe and non-judgmental space where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings is important.
- Avoid contractions helps to convey a more formal and respectful tone in your communication.
- Actively listen to what they say and validate their experiences when adequate.
- Show genuine interest and ask open-ended questions to encourage them to express themselves further.
- Avoid interrupting or offering unsolicited advice. Instead, focus on understanding their perspective and offering support.
Empathy involves putting yourself in their shoes and acknowledging their emotions without judgment. By practising empathetic listening, you can strengthen your relationship and provide valuable support to your sober friends.
Offering Encouragement and Positive Reinforcement
To provide encouragement and positive reinforcement, praise and uplift your sober loved ones whenever you notice their progress or achievements. Celebrate their milestones, big or small, to show them you recognise and appreciate their efforts to maintain sobriety.
Acknowledge their hard work and dedication, emphasising how proud you are of them for making positive changes in their life. When you are helping them see the good in their actions, be specific in your compliments, highlighting the specific behaviours that you admire. For example, you can commend them for their strength in resisting temptation or commitment to attending support meetings.
By offering consistent encouragement and positive reinforcement, you can help boost their confidence and motivation, reminding them that their sobriety is worth celebrating and that they are positively impacting their lives and those around them.
Educating Yourself on Sobriety and Addiction
Start by researching the effects of addiction on the brain and body, as well as the different types of treatment options available. Understanding the science behind addiction can help dispel common misconceptions and reduce stigma. Additionally, familiarise yourself with the signs of relapse and how to communicate with someone in recovery effectively. Become the source of knowledge and support for your sober friends, helping them navigate the ups and downs of their journey towards sobriety.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I address my discomfort or unease when socialising with my sober friends?
To address your discomfort when socialising with friends in recovery, try to understand their perspectives and choices. Focus on engaging in activities that don’t involve alcohol, and be open to learning from their experiences.
Are there any specific phrases or actions I should avoid?
Avoid phrases like “just have one drink” or “you’re no fun anymore.” Instead, focus on positive affirmations and ask how you can support them. Show empathy, listen without judgment, and remind them that their sobriety is important to you. Always provide a substance-free option when inviting them to events.
How can I help my sober friend deal with triggers or cravings in social situations?
Offer non-alcoholic beverage options, distract them with engaging conversations or activities, and be supportive by providing a listening ear or offering to leave if necessary. If you see any illegal substances at the event, walk away with them. It’s better for you, too.
Is drinking or using substances around my sober friends okay, as long as I don’t pressure them to join?
No, drinking or using substances is not okay as a whole. When it comes to them, even if you don’t pressure them to join, it can still trigger and make them uncomfortable. It’s important to create a supportive environment for their sobriety. If you don’t feel ready for this, it’s better to stand down from this task.
What are some common misconceptions about sobriety that I should be aware of and avoid perpetuating?
Some common misconceptions about sobriety to avoid perpetuating include assuming it’s a temporary choice, believing that sober people are boring, and thinking that they can’t have fun without alcohol or substances.
Be the Force of Change
Supporting your sober friends is crucial in their journey to recovery. By understanding their struggles and being empathetic listeners, we can provide a safe and non-judgmental space for them to share their experiences. Offering encouragement and positive reinforcement can help boost their confidence and motivation. Additionally, finding alternative activities and socialising options can help them navigate situations where alcohol or drugs may be present. Lastly, educating ourselves on sobriety and addiction allows us to better support our friends and understand their challenges. Together, we can make a positive impact on their sobriety journey.
If you feel this is too much for you, or are still unsure how to proceed, contact one of our advisers and we will guide you through the options. The Providence Projects is a long-term recovery assistant for everyone who has entrusted their safety and health with us.