You’d be surprised at how harsh and thoughtless people’s words toward addicts can be. Here are some phrases people inadvertently or unwisely say to addicts, that fail to understand the disease of addiction.
“Come on, you don’t have a problem. Everyone has a drink sometimes.”
Normalizing someones addiction like this makes it so hard for them to want to admit they have a problem and seek help. I get it, we all want to make our loved ones feel like there’s nothing wrong with them. Like they don’t have to be ashamed of anything. But if you normalize alcohol abuse and drug abuse you are dealing with life threatening addictions. It is better to be supportive than try to dismiss addiction as normal.
“Why can’t you just stop abusing drugs and alcohol?”
Addiction is something that is hard to understand if you don’t suffer from it. It is a condition where your body cannot function the way it used to without providing it a certain substance. If you take that substance away it will start going through withdrawal symptoms and your body will begin to detox. When you stop using drugs and alcohol you should seek out a medically supervised alcohol detox program. It is dangerous, and indeed, can be life threatening with certain addictions, to go through detox without a certified expert on hand.
“You can’t possibly be addicted to drugs, you’re still so functional!”
Kind of like the first one, this one excuses your friend from being concerned for their wellbeing by seeking help. Admitting that you have an addiction to drugs or alcohol is a really scary thing already. You tell your friend that they’re “too functional” to have a problem is counterproductive. And also it is absolutely a myth that being an addict necessitates that you are a logistical mess. It is true that often the first part of an addict’s life to be affected by their struggle is their responsibilities and the everyday logistics of their everyday lives. But not everyone experiences addiction in the same way.
If you know someone who suffers from drug or alcohol addiction please support them. We have a variety of blog articles in how you can support them through this difficult time. Still, the easiest steps to take are these: bring compassion to the table when you talk with them. If they approach you asking for help, sit down with them and help them find a drug and alcohol rehab program that works best for them.