Women in alcohol rehab need a stable support system which is vital for any recovering alcoholic’s success, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. So if you are a friend or relative of someone who has hit rock bottom but has bravely decided to be admitted to an alcohol recovery program, then you have a grave responsibility to encourage her to keep going. Sometimes, one of the best ways to help her stay on the right path is simply by knowing what to say and what not to say.
Here are top five things that you should never, ever, say to women in alcohol rehab.
Number One: “Seriously, are you sure that you are an alcoholic?”
If an alcoholic has finally admitted to her condition, it’s no good questioning her decision and possibly breaking her spirit and determination to stick to rehab.
Number Two: “I never thought you had a drinking problem.”
Making empty remarks like this is useless. It’s not about you, or what you thought or did not think. Instead, focus and emphasize on what is beneficial for your loved one. “I am so proud of you for being strong and brave,” is more encouraging. It shows your appreciation and confidence in her biggest and hardest life decision – participating women in alcohol rehab.
Number Three: “It’s a shame that you had to go through all of this.”
Alcoholics tend to feel irked by words of sympathy of any sort. To them, pity remarks and their condescending approach are simply unwelcome and intolerable. Instead of starting a pity party, be more encouraging and empowering. Saying “I know you can do this” is a better option.
Number Four: “I know exactly how you feel.”
Unless you’ve actually “been there and done that,” you should never say that you have, even if it’s just meant to somehow make a person feel better. Sympathy and empathy are two words that have been mixed up and used interchangeably for too long. Sympathy means feeling sorry or pitiful for someone’s hardships, while empathy means truly being able to relate to someone’s difficulties due to having been in the same shoes before. If you have no actual idea on what your loved one is going through, these words may comfort her: “I honestly don’t know what you’re feeling or going through right now, but I’ll always be here to support you.”
Number Five: “So how long have you been sober, really?”
Although meant lightly or in the friendliest manner, it’s actually insensitive. Alcohol addiction is a disease that does not heal overnight. Recovering alcoholics are understandably prone to relapsing back into their habits at one point in their journey or another. To them, questions like this may seem too personal and intrusive, especially since most recovering alcoholics usually cheat every once in a while. Bringing up the topic is like exposing the skeletons in her closet. She has already swallowed her pride and agreed to go to an alcohol recovery program, and questioning her sobriety is downright invasive and tactless. The more general question “How are you doing?” is a safer way to start a conversation, giving her more freedom in what aspects of her recovery she feels ready to divulge and confide in you.
Your loved one is in an emotionally volatile and sensitive state. Unwarranted advice, although meant well, or thoughtless comments innocently yet perniciously said can prove to be detrimental to her otherwise positive outlook towards recovery. It takes a great amount of courage for women in alcohol rehab to admit her addiction and to finally welcome the idea of entering an alcohol treatment center. Thus you should be extra sensitive and choose your words carefully when speaking with a loved one who is making a Herculean effort to recover.
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