What To Say When Someone Tells You They Went To Rehab

If someone tells you they have been to rehab, you have an opportunity to respond in a way that offers support. By knowing what to say, and what to avoid saying, you can be a source of encouragement to someone who may really need it.

What To Say To Someone From Rehab?

If someone tells you that they have been to a drug rehab center, you may not know how to respond.

Talking to people about their experiences in addiction treatment may feel awkward at first, but if you know what to say, the conversation can be encouraging for them and educational for you.

Often, the best thing to do is to help keep the conversation positive and encouraging.

People who have been through addiction treatment may still feel vulnerable about their mental health.

Talk Less And Listen More

Anytime someone shares something personal with you, a good approach can be to talk less and listen more.

If you are in recovery yourself, and willing to talk about it, sharing this fact early on in the conversation can help the person feel less alone.

However, everyone’s experience with addiction is different, so resist giving advice unless it’s asked for.

Regardless of your situation, let the person take charge of the conversation.

They will likely appreciate just having someone to share their experience with who isn’t judging them and is concerned about their well-being.

… But It’s OK To Ask Questions

Asking a question or two about the person’s experience in addiction recovery can show interest. Of course, the questions may depend on how well you know this person.

Questions may include:

  • What was the hardest part of your experience in substance abuse treatment?
  • What did you learn in your rehab program?
  • What did you like about the rehab facility?
  • Where are you now in your recovery journey?

If you sense that the person is uncomfortable answering questions, go back to listening and letting them steer the conversation.

Words Matter: Reducing The Stigma Of Addiction

It’s important to remember that the words you use when discussing addiction and other mental health issues matter. Words can fuel hurtful stereotypes or stigmas.

One definition of stigma is “a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.”

The stigma of addiction can make people feel ashamed, vulnerable, or incapable of achieving sobriety. It may even prevent them from seeking or continuing treatment.

Rather than being based on facts, the stigma of addiction is based on negative, unfair judgments of and feelings toward people who experience drug and alcohol abuse.

Words To Use And Avoid Using

When talking to someone who has been to an addiction treatment center, choosing your words carefully can help you show your support for people with substance use disorders.

Words to avoid using:

  • addict
  • user
  • junkie
  • alcoholic
  • drunk
  • former addict
  • reformed addict

Words to use:

  • a person with a substance use disorder
  • a person with an opioid use disorder
  • a person with an alcohol use disorder
  • a person who misuses alcohol
  • a person in recovery

If you are talking with a close family member or friend, it may be appropriate to express more personal sentiments.

Encouraging words to a loved one include:

  • I am here for you.
  • I am proud of you.
  • Take it one day at a time.
  • I love you.

People Facing Heavier Addiction Stigmas

Among people in need of addiction treatment, certain groups may feel an additional weight of stigma because of their circumstances.

These people include:

It can be even more important to show support for people in these groups so that they feel empowered to seek the care they need or continue with their treatment plan.

Resources For Friends And Family Of People In Recovery

Like people in recovery themselves, friends and family members of people in recovery can benefit from support groups too. Both groups of people have been affected by addiction.

For family and friends, consider an Al-Anon or Nar-Anon group, which provide peer support for loved ones of people with an addiction.

Family members might also consider receiving family therapy together with their loved one.

Find Addiction Treatment Today

If you or someone you know is facing alcohol or drug addiction and is in need of help, call AddictionResource.net today. We can tell you about the recovery process, including how to get started.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.

These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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