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4 Things You Should Never Say to an Addict

Posted on 01/04/19: Addiction Recovery \ Addiction Treatment

Why can’t you quit? You aren’t even trying!

Did you know? These questions and blatant accusations can actually drive an addict over the edge. You don’t really need statistics to believe that almost every addict has heard these statements. And more often than not, a loved one was at the other end.

Now, we know that most of you have no intention of hurting your addicted friend or family member. However, the reality of the situation is usually incomprehensible to you.  That is because you are either in denial of the substance abuse going on under your roof, or you are angry at the abuser for putting you through hell because of it.

Moreover, it has been observed that family members and friends of substance abusers often have a threshold. It’s like the addict is there to bat at a baseball game where ‘three strikes’ means that he is out. But addiction is not as simple as that. And it is definitely not a game.

Therefore, we request you to stop ‘winging it’ and really try to understand the needs of an addict. One way to do this is through genuine interaction that is not based on your feelings. Rather it should be rooted in a place that comes from love and unbiased opinion. You may not know this but what you say to an addict really matters. Hence, you should try to think things over before you utter something that may discourage their recovery.

But how do you know what to say? We can’t tell you what exactly works or doesn’t, because every person is different and reacts to the situation differently. That is probably why addiction itself comes in various forms (e.g. drugs, alcohol, gambling, smoking, etc.).

However, we can certainly shed some light on phrases and words that you should never say to an addict. And when we say never, we mean it. This is because these sometimes quite ‘harmless’ notions have proven to be destructive for the receiver.

Want to know what they are?

Here are the most commonly uttered phrases that no addict ever wants to hear again:

1. The Denial

‘You don’t have a problem!’

addict taboos

Admit it. This was probably your first reaction when the abuser opened up about their addiction. This is because we are often overwhelmed with shock and disbelief when we realize that someone close to us has been suffering for so long. Your mind tries to tone down the situation by telling you, ‘You never saw any signs. The problem isn’t as big as they are letting on. You couldn’t have let this happen’.  

But the reality is that it did happen! And it has gotten out of control.

Hence, hearing your denial doesn’t help them at all. For starters, it took them great courage to confess their insatiable habit to you. Thus, your words might come across as dismissive and undermining. Plus, they may even take it as a sign to mean that discussing this issue with you will be pointless in the future. In a way, unintentionally you may be breaking off their bridge to cross over to the cleaner side.

2. The Distrust

‘Do you even try?’

This classic question is often followed up by the patronizing statement declaring that ‘you’re probably not trying hard enough.  This type of comment often come after a relapse or two. That is because you fail to understand that recovery is not just twelve easy steps.

Addition is an ongoing battle that addicts wage every single day of their lives. It’s like facing all your demons in one go by refraining from that one thing that was suppressing those harsh emotions and negative thoughts. Thus, your disbelief in the situation can harm the addict’s self-esteem. You compel them into thinking that it’s true: kicking their habit might be impossible.

You see, your confidence in them is often a crutch that helps them walk the fine line between abstaining and abusing. Don’t snatch away that lifeline.

3. The Rejection

‘You are such a disappointment’

Statistically speaking, most addictions are caused by low confidence and self-worth. Therefore, it is natural that your rejection and frustration toward the addict can push them deeper into their mindless addiction.

Moreover, it may be that they already thought that they were the ‘black sheep’ of the family. So the constant taunts you throw at them would just prove that they were right. To them, indulging in something that makes them happy for a while is better than looking at the disgust in your eyes.

4. The Example

‘I know someone who…’

Stop right there!

At least the first few phrases were coming from the heart. Many addicts may forgive your emotional outbursts as knee-jerk reactions to how hard their compulsion has hit you. But this is treading into the dangerous territory of comparisons and false realities.

Honestly speaking, they don’t want to hear this story and neither do we. That is because each addict is different and they wish to be treated differently, rather than being lumped together in statistics that claim to understand how they feel.

Thus, we advise you to stop what you were going to say. Instead, listen to what your person is going through. Just remember to bite your tongue if something upsetting crops up. This will prevent you from saying something you’ll regret later.

Are You Guilty of Saying Some of These Things?

If yes, then you can’t ever take them back. But what you can do is try to ease their pain by apologizing and supporting them through these tough times.

In the end, if you don’t understand how to approach the topic, it’s best not to say anything at all. Your silent support and constant presence have more value that unsettling words. The ultimate truth is that they need a hand to hold rather than words of attempted consolation.

Do You Know Someone Who Needs Help?

Sober Living AZ is one of the finest rehabilitation centers in the country.

Our strategy is to cleanse out addiction by targeting both physical and psychological wounds that may be triggering the relapse or resistance to recovery. Our center provides great care to anyone that reaches out and gives them a chance to participate in several different programs. We provide everything from private counseling sessions to group therapies.  Moreover, we organize training programs and extracurricular activities that help instill productivity back in an addict’s life.

We wish to create a healthier, cleaner and better future for anyone that enters through our doors. Reach out today for a better, brighter life.

Content for Sober Living Arizona by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment and technology. Advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best. www.cohn.media


If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact Sober Living of AZ now to get the help you need. Sober Living offers an acclaimed recovery environment that merges upscale and luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare. Call us now at 602-737-2458.

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