Drug and alcohol addiction can be a sensitive subject, especially for those who are currently struggling with it or who are in recovery. Addiction is a disease that can affect anybody, yet many people still see it as a moral failing, as if they wouldn’t fall victim to it if they were a stronger or better person.
This is why it’s such a difficult thing for people to discuss even though they don’t have anything to be ashamed of. Even though addiction is a difficult subject to discuss, you’ll likely still find some people who are willing to talk about their struggles with drugs and alcohol. However, there are still some questions that you should avoid when talking to a recovering or struggling addict even if you mean well.
“Are you sure you’re an addict?”
Just because someone doesn’t look like your definition of an addict doesn’t mean that they are one. While there are certainly some addicts who fit at least some of the stereotypes you have in your head, there are many others who look like anyone else. They might appear to function perfectly well most of the time, but they are still struggling with addiction, and they know more about their own struggles than you do. Never assume that someone isn’t really an addict if they insist that they are.
“Can’t you just have one drink?”
This is a question that many recovering alcoholics have to face. Recovery is an ongoing process, one that will likely never end. A recovering addict will always feel the temptation to drink or use their drug of choice. Insisting that they’ll be fine if they just have one drink will only make things difficult for them, and it’s disrespectful of their efforts to become sober.
“Can you come with me to my party and be my designated driver?”
This is right up there with assuming that a recovering alcoholic can have just one drink and be fine. You’re asking someone who has had a history of alcohol abuse to be around alcohol and other drinkers. That is too much of a temptation for any recovering addict. Once again, it’s also disrespectful to their efforts to quit drinking and become sober.
“Are you tempted to use now?”
Assume that the answer to this question will be “yes.” Even if someone is in recovery and hasn’t touched their substance of choice, they’re tempted to start using again. Asking this question is just reminding them of how difficult their journey to sobriety has been. It’s best just to leave this alone.
“Why didn’t you quit sooner?”
The decision to quit using drugs and alcohol is one that everyone has to make on their own schedule in their own time. They have to recognize that they have a problem, and they have to decide to want to get healthy. Nobody can push them into that. Asking a recovering addict why they didn’t try to sober up sooner will just remind them of how difficult it was to make that decision and how difficult it still is to fight against their cravings. Instead of asking why they didn’t try to quit sooner, show your support that they’ve decided to seek treatment at all. It’s a big step to take, no matter when you decide to take it.
“What was treatment like?”
It is possible that a recovering addict will gladly discuss their treatment with you, but it’s also likely that they won’t want to think about it too much. Treatment is difficult for everyone; people have to address the issues that led to their substance abuse, which is usually very personal. On top of that, their treatment likely involved detoxing and dealing with withdrawal symptoms, which are far more painful than most people realize. You can’t expect them to relive that for the sake of your curiosity.
In short, dealing with any kind of addiction is a deeply personal and painful process. Anyone who goes through treatment and decides to become sober deserves all the love and support people can give them, but asking these questions will likely just make things more painful than they need to be.
As always, if you or someone you care about is dealing with addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help. We’re here to help anyone who needs it, and we can help find the right treatment program for you or your loved one. Call us at 833-820-2922.