You sometimes hear people say that a person with a drug or alcohol addiction needs “a wakeup call” or a “dose of reality” to help them get on the path to healing or to keep them focused when they are in recovery. However, we know from working with people at our benzo detox in Sacramento that what they really need is kindness, encouragement, and patience. Other kinds of statements can often make a bad situation worse.
Be a Positive Influence
If a friend, family member, or coworker is struggling with addiction, here are some thing you should NOT say to them:
“How long will your recovery take?”
Every person’s experience in detox and recovery is unique. It can take anywhere from days to weeks to month to regain control of your life. Trying to make a person set a timeline is both unfair and unhealthy. They’ve made the commitment to get help. Now you need to trust that they’ll make progress as quickly as they can, and you need to be patient.
“There are people who are in much worse shape than you are.”
While the attempt with a statement like this may be to encourage the person, it can be heard as “... so you should be able to put this behind you quickly and easily.” Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction is never “quick or easy.”
“You’ve really hurt a lot of people.”
People who are fighting addiction are very aware that they have hurt people, including themselves. And they want nothing more than to make the hurting stop. But adding more guilt and shame to what they are already feeling doesn’t help them resolve their issues any faster. In fact, it can weigh them down and make the process even more difficult.
“It doesn’t seem like your treatment is working.”
The battle against addiction is largely fought internally — in a person’s brain, mind, and heart. An observer really has no way of knowing how much “progress” a person is making. A better approach is to express your support for the person and to say that you’re there for them if they want to talk about any aspect of their recovery, including progress or setbacks.
Before you talk with someone who is need of benzo detox about their situation, think twice about the impact your words will have. The things you say can have a positive or negative influence on a person’s forward momentum, so be sure you are offering encouragement and not making a challenging situation even more so. Contact us today at (800) 205-6107 to find out about the services we offer.
Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on December 5th, 2017.