6 Things Not To Say To Someone Struggling With Addiction

By Carly Benson

When someone you love has an issue with abusing substances, it’s normal to want to help them realize they have a problem and get them into some kind of treatment program. Often this can be a frustrating and drawn out process because most people who are heavily drinking or using drugs may not be ready to admit they have a problem.

The truth is no one decides to drink or use drugs with the notion that they will develop an addiction to it. Addiction happens gradually and tends to take control of the user’s life before they even realize it’s happening.

Dealing with a loved one’s addiction is a very sensitive subject. It’s important to understand the importance of the conversations and language used when you are approaching someone you want to express your concern to. There are effective ways to communicate with your loved one about addiction and there are also certain things you should not say to someone who is battling a substance abuse problem.

6 Things Not To Say To Someone Struggling With Addiction

  1. You will never change.

People change everyday, all the time. Every human on the planet has the ability to change and evolve with time. Some may change completely and others may only change slightly, but nonetheless change is inevitable for everyone. Changing in the right direction for an addict is possible. They can change their lives with the proper guidance and support systems in place. Try to stay optimistic by letting them know they don’t have to live that way anymore.

  1. Why can’t you stop doing drugs or drinking?

In most cases, if not all, a person who is addicted to substances has tried to “just quit.” It’s highly likely they have tried multiple times. If it were that easy, no one would be addicted to anything. Most people suffering from a substance abuse disorder need to seek help to break their addictions. Unfortunately, addiction is a condition inside the body, mind and spirit that needs to be approached holistically. Understanding that if someone could choose to just walk away, surely they would. No one chooses to become addicted.

  1. There is only one way to quit.

There is no one-size-fits-all method to recovery or treatment. Just as everyone’s path into addiction is different, so is his or her road to recovery. While there are proven approaches to addiction treatment such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, there are other options available. Inpatient treatment is a great way to jumpstart someone into better health and from there coming up with a tailored plan for ongoing self-care and aftercare to include community support, therapy, counseling, and exercise is important. Encourage your loved one to seek a treatment program and path that works for them.

  1. You should be ashamed of yourself for being so selfish.

Compassion and kindness will go a much longer way than insults or demeaning someone’s character.  It’s important to understand that addiction comes with a high price tag of living daily with shame and guilt as it is. No one wants to live that way. Sadly, people with substance use disorder live in a lonely and dark place most of the time. Showing loving concern, encouragement and consistent support, without enabling, is the best love language in these situations.

  1. You need to hit rock bottom to change.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth. No one needs to hit an all-time low before they decide to get help. Using this kind of language to a person who is addicted to substances is basically like giving them a permission slip to use or drink until it becomes so bad they have no other option. Everyone reaches a point where they become sick and tired of being sick and tired and it looks different for everyone. You don’t have to be homeless, falling over or using 24/7 to know that it doesn’t make you feel good on the inside. Encourage your loved one to get help now instead of waiting for something terrible to happen in their life first.

  1. You are going to be like this the rest of your life.

Making assumptions about the future based on someone’s past is not fair and most often is not accurate. Many people who have faced off with addiction have recovered at all ages and stages of life. Although it can be frustrating or seem like it might be “like this,” forever, the best way to help your loved one is to be supportive instead of verbally trying to paint a picture of misery about rest of their life.

Read Next: How to diagnose opioid addiction

Getting Help

The ultimate goal of helping someone face their addictions is getting them help and treatment. Treatment programs can help begin the process of recovery from addiction. Detox programs along with inpatient or outpatient programs can help a person get started and begin to regain control over their lives.

You can best support your loved one by becoming educated about addiction, learning how to help them in effective ways and by understanding your role as a friend or family member throughout the process.

At Windward Way, we’ve completely redefined residential addiction treatment for men aged 18-45. Our philosophy grounds itself in the conviction that each person is unique and deserves an addiction treatment program totally customized for them. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options for addiction as well as support groups for both you and your loved one.


If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction and need treatment, we would love to talk with you and see how we can help you. PLEASE CALL (855) 491-7694. Our counselors are available to answer your questions.


Carly Benson is the impactful author behind the delightfully, budding personal development blog, MiraclesAreBrewing.com

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