Damaging Things You Can Say to Someone in Treatment

When someone you know is in treatment, it can feel like you are walking on eggshells. You want to help, but you do not want to say anything wrong. You may even question if talking to them will help. It is important to understand that talking to someone in treatment will help, despite these fears. 

A 2018 article from the journal Nature Neuroscience states that positive social interactions can be protective against relapses. Therefore positive social interactions are vital for individuals in treatment. 

Good Social Interaction and the Brain 

According to a 2011 article published in the journal Advances in Psychosomatic Medicine, social defeat can alter the brain-reward mechanisms to impart vulnerability to addiction. A good social interaction has a positive impact on the brain-reward mechanisms. To put it simply, when the brain is involved in a good interaction, it will want more interactions like that. 

Suppose there is a negative interaction; the brain will want a different reward to cope with the defeat. This means that if someone is already struggling with substance abuse issues, social defeat could trigger that individual and lead them back to the substance they are trying to quit. 

Promote Positivity 

It is well known that talking can be an incredible benefit to the mental health of someone going through the treatment process. You must make sure that the conversation has a positive outcome and that those involved feel comfortable. Saying the wrong thing could damage someone's health and, in extreme cases, even trigger PTSD

Don't Define an Individual Based on Their Past 

For someone in treatment, the past can be a sensitive subject. Reminding someone of the past could be detrimental to their mental health because they may be processing it or have not yet begun to address those feelings. Even reminiscing or talking about “the good ole days” could be triggering. This could spark feelings of guilt or inadequacy that you may not realize. 

Never Assume That Quitting Is “Easy”

Sobriety can be a difficult journey for a lot of people. Asking about someone's relapse or asking them, “Why can't you just quit?” is not as simple as it may seem. Further, questioning why they are not meeting the standards of your imagined timeframe to get well will only hinder their progress. 

Good support will allow the person to work through their issues at their own pace. Certainly, they will make mistakes and have setbacks, but you need to remember that you are helping them weather these challenges to set them up for a lifetime of success. 

Never Shame the Individual for Getting Sober 

Once out of treatment, it can be difficult for someone to find their footing in social situations. The person may have felt more relaxed and comfortable when using substances. Additionally, early recovery is a trying time, and it is crucial to remember not to make the person feel guilty by saying “they're not acting like they used to." Even if your remarks are in jest, such words can cause damaging mental and physical consequences.  

It is important to help them work through uncomfortable social situations and make them feel empowered for being who they are. 

Don't Overshadow Their Experience With Your Own 

Being able to empathize with someone can be helpful. Having a relatable experience can guide that person through the hard times. You want to remember that the focus is on them. Therefore, avoid overshadowing the person's experiences with your own. For example, avoid responding to what they say with things like, “If you think what you did is bad, I did this.” 

Downplaying the experiences a person has gone through will have a negative effect on them. Your words can make them feel insignificant and destroy their self-confidence. While you may share experiences, everybody has a different way of processing the experience. Therefore it is important to listen to them and validate their feelings. Sometimes just offering a listening ear can bring comfort and support.     

The key point to keep in mind is that you want the person to feel comfortable and that their thoughts and feelings are valid. Keeping these two things in mind, having a productive conversation should be obtainable.

Seek Profesisional Support

If you have difficulty talking with a loved one and are met with confrontation, consider professional help. A licensed therapist, counselor, or coach can help guide you through the process, and they can suggest helpful ways to arrange a safe setting to have a conversation. In some cases, the therapist, counselor, or coach can be present to help monitor the conversation. 

Having a moderator can benefit both parties to stay focused on what is important. They will help keep the conversation constructive rather than confrontational. 

When someone you care about enters treatment, it can be hard to know what to do next. Further, knowing how to talk to that person in treatment or following treatment can be just as challenging. Therefore, having the right resources is essential. NorthStar Transitions can be that resource for help. Our experienced staff can help you and the ones you love navigate treatment and recovery. Whether you are new to the treatment process or are struggling with relapse, we have programs designed to address your needs. With an array of conventional and holistic approaches to care, we can tailor treatment to meet the individual's needs. If you or someone you know someone who is in recovery or in need of treatment, reach out for help today.  To learn more about our programs, reach out to NorthStar Transitions today by calling us at (303) 558-6400.   

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