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  • Caledonia Recovery Homes LLC

How to Communicate With Your Recovering Loved One

Updated: Jan 18, 2022

Communicating with a loved one who has substance use disorder is quite challenging, especially in their denial stage. It is important to offer love, support, understanding, and healthy boundaries to them. One miscommunication can affect them so much and you must know how to handle your relationship with them gently and properly.

Show Kindness

A person with substance use disorder people often think the worst for themselves and they live long enough in their heads to loathe multiple times a day. Not to mention, the stigma that people who have a drug addiction are bad, shameful, etc. Showing them simple acts of kindness will help ease their minds and gain more confidence that they really need. It helps them to be kind to themselves too.

Instead of saying this...

"You are worthless! People who take drugs will never have a good future."

Say this...

"You are a wonderful person, and you have a bright future ahead of you despite the challenges you are going through now."

Educate Yourself About Substance Use Disorder

A lot of people still do not know the realities of drug addiction. Do not be one of them. Often, society blames people for their substance use disorder as if nothing else could have triggered them to take it in the first place. It is so easy for people to blame things on something they do not fully know. There are a lot of ways to educate yourself about it. It could be accompanying them with their appointments, attending support groups like Al-Anon, and reading reliable sources on the internet or books. The more you educate yourself about the disease, the more you understand your loved one.

Instead of saying this...

"I don't understand you anymore! I can't help you."

Say this...

"I know I am not in your place and I cannot fully understand what you are feeling at least let me help you in any way I can."

Listen Enough Before You Respond

A big component of good communication is listening actively to what the person is saying. Not only their words but the meaning behind them. When a person with drug addiction trusts you enough to open up, try your best to listen without interrupting, invalidating, or giving unsolicited opinions. Most of the time, they just need someone to listen to their thoughts without the fear of being judged.

Their drug addiction doesn't have to be the main topic all the time. Ask them about their day, their plans for the weekend, or what they've been up to lately. Speak with them like how you speak to someone without substance use disorder. Make them feel as normal as possible and do not cut them off without hearing them out first.

Instead of saying this...

"Why are you not responding? Are you using again? You really cannot stop yourself!"

Say this...

"Hey, are you busy tonight? I would love to spend time with you!"

Set Healthy Boundaries

This might be hard to do especially with the concern you have for your loved ones. However, it is important to let them know that you are human too, you have limitations, feelings, and emotions. If they did something you are not comfortable with, tell them honestly but gently and reassure them that all is well. Remember, a person who sets boundaries with you is their act of continuing their relationship with you.

Instead of saying this...

"You annoy me so much. I don't like talking to you when you are being like this!"

Say this...

"I feel uncomfortable when you talk to me like this. I think we can continue talking when we are both sober."

Do Not Control Them

Your loved one who has a substance use disorder is human too. Do not tell them what to do or control their actions. They need to feel in control of their life because most of the time they feel like their drug addiction is overpowering them. As long as they are not doing harmful things to themselves, show them respect for their decisions.

Instead of saying this...

"You should just stop drawing. It's not fun at all!"

Say this...

"I am glad you feel better when you draw. Do you want me to accompany you in buying new materials?"

Communicating with a loved one who is suffering from substance use disorder can be challenging and fulfilling at the same time. Always remember that the best way to understand them is to educate yourself about what they are going through. Taking care of others can take a toll on our minds and we must take care of ourselves too. Give them the support and love they need without jeopardizing your own good.

If your loved one is ready to ask for professional help. You may contact us at 844-738-9848 or We will be here to help out every step of the way.

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