How to Support a Friend Through Sobriety
I wish more of my friends knew how to support me in sobriety in the early days. One of the most challenging parts of sobriety for me is having to explain myself to others who do not quite understand the seriousness of addiction or substance abuse. I have grown more comfortable with this throughout my time with sobriety, but I know the difficulties of turning down an invitation to the bar because you do not want to feel triggered. Or the internal shame and anger that comes after hearing someone say, "Just one drink won't hurt."
I have been around far too many people who have tried to convince me to drink or who think I can go to the bar without drinking. Fortunately, I carry a lot of compassion and even a bit of envy for those who do not know that it will never be just one drink. Most of my close friends are aware of my struggles, and my open communication has helped this a lot, but it has not always been this way.
I have had many difficult conversations attempting to explain myself to others which is why I hope to spread the message that you never know what someone is struggling with or how your words might be triggering their destructive behavior.
Supporting Your Friends in Sobriety Is More Important than You Think
I grew up around the party lifestyle and addiction issues, so I am able to understand these demons; however, I have many friends who have never been around addiction. The thought that someone cannot stop after one drink can be hard for them to grasp. But here is the thing: your friends might be struggling more than you think.
If someone in your life has stated that they do not want to drink or use drugs tonight, the next night, or ever again, please respect that decision. It is no secret that drugs and alcohol abuse and addiction can cause increased depression and anxiety, and if someone is prioritizing their mental health, you should accept and respect that. You do not want to be the reason someone reverts to the behavior that is causing them unhappiness or serious personal life issues.
How to Support Your Friend in Their Sobriety
The first step in being able to appropriately support a friend through their sobriety is understanding that addiction and substance abuse are serious mental health issues, and they can affect just about any one of us. Choosing to maintain sobriety takes strength and courage, and if someone in your life has decided this is the right decision for them, your support will greatly help them throughout their journey. If they choose to open up about their addiction issues, listen with an open heart. It could make or break their sobriety. Better yet, offer to spend time with them in a sober and drug-free environment.
Another way to be supportive of a friend throughout their sobriety journey is to be aware of the language you use around them. When someone speaks about their mental health and substance abuse issues, they are expressing true vulnerability and need someone who can understand, listen, and accept that they are choosing to be sober and better their life. We all deserve to be supported and listened to, so please choose to be that person for others in your life.
Davidson, K. (2022, March 3). How to Support a Friend Through Sobriety , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, November 28 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/debunkingaddiction/2022/3/how-to-support-a-friend-through-sobriety