What to Say to Someone in Recovery

Written by Chloe Nicosia

What to Say to Someone in Recovery: Encouraging Words for Someone in Rehab

When someone you love is admitted into rehab, people commonly feel helpless and lost. This is usually because they want to help in one way or another, but it’s rare that people know what to say to someone in recovery. Generally speaking, we fall back on encouraging words for someone in rehab, and we try to offer whatever help we can, but is that truly effective? Is that what’s best for them? Is there something more helpful that we could be doing to help our loved ones?

In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the best ways to vocalize our support for our recovering friends and family members by figuring out what to say to someone in rehab.

Express Support

When you’re going through drug addiction treatment, you can experience a roller coaster of different emotions. This has a lot to do with the fact that your body is still adjusting to the change in chemical makeup and the new, unfamiliar surroundings. Whether your friend or family member went into treatment willingly or otherwise, they are still very likely to go through stages of both appreciation of the treatment center, and a rejection of the treatment center.

During these moments of self doubt and a desire to go home, it’s important to offer encouraging words for someone in rehab. When you’re confused and filled with doubt, it’s extremely helpful just to hear someone say that they’re proud of your decisions, that they support your decision to get help, and that you will be better for having made it through this experience. This is especially important during the early stages of recovery, specifically the detox process. Early on is when most patients will experience an apprehension or sudden regret. This has a lot to do with the body’s physical response to being denied a substance to which it it has become dependent. Stay strong, support their decision, and let them know they are exactly where they belong during this time period.

Do Not Enable Their Abuse

Once your friend or family member has progressed further into their recovery, they are going to start thinking about life after rehab. Once they start getting their bearings, it’s important to start laying the ground rules for their return. While this may feel harsh, or may be hard for many people to do to their loved ones, it’s one of the most important things someone can do. Far too often when we talk about what to say to someone in rehab , we focus on the happy, supportive, and love-filled answers. The truth is that if we want to help the people close to us truly succeed in their recovery, we need to lay the ground rules, boundaries, and guidelines that will stop enabling their drug use, and promote their sobriety.

Express Your Love and Care For Them

During inpatient rehabilitation, it’s very easy for patients to feel somewhat isolated from their friends and family on the outside. When you couple this very common response to being cut off from your support with the depression commonly associated with withdrawals, you end up with a person in need of support and understanding. Sometimes the most encouraging words for someone in rehab can be simple phrases like “we miss you”, “we are here for you”, and “we love you no matter what.” Vocalizing our love and support for one another is important regardless of situation, but during recovery from drugs and alcohol, it can be the difference between a recovery process filled with doubt, and a recovery process fueled by supportive and caring loved ones.

Express Understanding

One of the reasons why knowing what to say to someone in rehab can be so hard at times, is because the vast majority of people have no experience with substance abuse treatment and recovery. That’s why the best advice we can give anyone looking for the encouraging words for someone in rehab is to listen to their family member, try your best to empathize with them, and let them know that you understand their situation. By expressing an interest in learning about what they are going through, you are offering them a level of understanding that can help them feel less alone, less estranged, and less ashamed of their current situation. This type of mutual understanding can really help someone open up about their drug use, the state of their recovery, and more importantly can help them prevent relapses later on by promoting an open and honest dialogue between the recovering addict and their loved ones. When it comes to know what to say to someone in recovery, the best thing you can do is learn about THEIR addiction, and express understanding. Once you manage to do that, everything else will fall into place.

For more advice on how to help your loved one or get help for yourself, call us today at 1.800.429.7690.



Allen, M. (2002). Interpersonal communication research: advances through meta-analysis. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.