10 Wrong Things You Should Avoid Saying To Someone In Recovery

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Supporting someone in their journey of recovery from addiction is vital, but sometimes, even with the best intentions, we might say things that can be hurtful or counterproductive. Understanding the power of words and their impact on individuals in recovery is crucial for fostering a supportive environment.

Here are ten wrong things you should avoid saying to someone in recovery, along with insights on why these phrases can be harmful:

“You can have just one drink, it won’t hurt.”

Encouraging moderation might seem harmless, but for individuals in recovery, even a single drink can trigger a downward spiral back into addiction. It undermines their commitment to sobriety and disregards the immense effort they’ve put into staying clean.

“Why don’t you just stop?”

Addiction is a complex disease with psychological and physiological components. Simply telling someone to stop overlooks the challenges they face and diminishes the severity of their struggle. It’s essential to recognize addiction as a medical condition that requires comprehensive support and treatment.

“You don’t look like an addict.”

Stereotypes about addiction can lead to misconceptions about who can be affected. Comments like this perpetuate stigma and shame, making it harder for individuals to seek help or feel understood. Addiction doesn’t discriminate based on appearance or social status.

“Just think positively and you’ll be fine.”

Recovery involves more than just positive thinking. While optimism can be helpful, it’s not a cure-all for addiction. Recovery requires a holistic approach, including therapy, support groups, and sometimes medication, to address underlying issues and develop coping strategies.

“You’re selfish for prioritizing your recovery.”

Recovery is a personal journey that requires focus and dedication. Criticizing someone for prioritizing their health and well-being only adds guilt and resentment to an already challenging process. Supporting their commitment to recovery is essential for their long-term success.

“You’ll never be able to have fun again.”

Recovery is not about giving up enjoyment; it’s about finding healthier ways to experience joy and fulfillment. Statements like this reinforce the misconception that sobriety equals a joyless existence. Instead, encourage activities and hobbies that promote well-being without substance use.

“You’re just using your addiction as an excuse.”

Minimizing or dismissing someone’s struggles with addiction undermines their experience and the validity of their feelings. Addiction is a serious condition that profoundly impacts individuals’ lives, and recovery requires empathy and understanding, not judgment.

“I know how you feel.”

Even if you’ve experienced addiction or know someone who has, everyone’s journey is unique. Comparing experiences can invalidate the individual’s emotions and overlook their specific challenges. Instead, offer empathy and support without assuming you understand their exact situation.

“You’re cured now, right?”

Recovery is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Even after achieving sobriety, individuals may face triggers or challenges that require continued support. Assuming someone is “cured” overlooks the lifelong nature of recovery and can set unrealistic expectations.

10. “You’re weak for relapsing.”

Relapse is a common part of the recovery journey for many individuals and does not signify weakness. It’s essential to approach relapse with compassion and support, rather than judgment or criticism. Encourage them to learn from the experience and recommit to their recovery goals.


Words have the power to uplift and support individuals in recovery or to inflict harm and discouragement. By avoiding these ten wrong things and instead offering empathy, understanding, and encouragement, we can create a more compassionate and supportive environment for those on the path to recovery.