Your friend has finally completed treatment for addiction, and you are incredibly proud of them for making the commitment to get healthy again. But now you realize you aren’t so sure about how your friendship will be affected.
You used to be open and honest with one another, but does that mean you can now ask them anything about their addiction and recovery? Or should you tread lightly and not bring it up at all?
Being supportive of a friend in recovery can be tricky if you have never been placed in a situation like it before. Not only are you unsure about what the “off-limits” questions are, but you also now have to take into consideration that their interests and even personality may have changed.
Before you start avoiding your friend in recovery altogether out of fear of awkward conversations and committing a sobriety faux pas, take a look at our list of “dos and don’ts” that will help you support your friend in social situations and strengthen your friendship.
Don’t make the evening about their recovery.
Try not to make every conversation about your friend’s recovery when you hang out together. Yes, you may be curious to know what it was like to go through addiction treatment and how they are able to stick to a sober lifestyle, but restrain yourself from doing so.
General questions about their well-being are fine, but you shouldn’t pry. If they want to tell you the details about their treatment, they will on their own time. Instead, focus on the positive changes you have noticed in them. Perhaps they are now more into health and fitness or have mentioned attending sober events. You can talk about some of those changes and the mutual interests you both still have.
Do take into consideration what types of environments might best support your friend’s sobriety.
When you go out with your friend in recovery, you should always take into consideration what types of places aren’t conducive to a sober lifestyle. Make sure you don’t suggest places or events where the focal point is alcohol or where people might be using.
Choose places where you both will have fun and enjoy each other’s company. It can be a café, a park, a yoga class, or even the movies. You may also want your friend to plan your outing. After all, they know where they are in their recovery and what they feel they can handle.
Don’t question their recovery.
Because you feel comfortable with your friend, you may feel like you can joke about your friend’s recovery or ask any questions that may pop into your head about addiction, but you can’t. People in recovery don’t want you to make light of their addiction or be asked silly questions just like other individuals who suffer from other diseases don’t.
The best thing to do is to ask yourself if the question you are about to ask would be considered offensive to your friend or make them feel uncomfortable. If the answer is yes, then don’t ask it. It will help you avoid a possible argument and even a bruised friendship. If you’re curious, there is an abundance of literature on the subject.
Do keep your friend’s status in recovery to yourself.
If you are meeting as a group with other people, some of whom your friend in recovery does not know, you shouldn’t take it upon yourself to reveal that your friend is in recovery. That is up to your friend.
Some people in recovery are very private about their history of addiction; others are open about it. Wherever your friend lands on that spectrum, support them.