You would do anything to help your friend through their journey to recovery from opioid addiction. Learn what to say and ways you can show support when they transition out of treatment.
Let them know you care. Don’t know what to say? Start with “Hi, I’m thinking about you.” Ready for more? “I want you to know I’m here to help you in any way I can.”
Offer suggestions. If they are receptive, talk about specific ways you can help. It can be a ride to a meeting or medical visit, a listening ear when they need to talk, or help them discover new activities you can still enjoy as friends.
Ask questions. Be the friend who is willing to ask questions, and willing to hear the answers. If they don’t want to open up, respect that too.
Your feelings matter too. Like any relationship, friendships can suffer damage during addiction. You don’t have to pretend it didn’t happen – just let them know you are open to talking about it when the time is right.
Be normal. They want to feel normal again. You really can talk about other things.
Understand their social triggers. Don’t drink or use drugs around someone who is transitioning out of treatment. Find new activities to replace situations where they will be reminded of their past drug use.
Be patient. Try to accept your friend without judgment. Recovery is a life-long process. Keep encouraging them.
Relapse can happen at any time. Be aware that, even after many months of treatment, someone in recovery is extremely vulnerable to relapse.
Avoid triggering situations. Relapse can be kicked off by the slightest combination of stress and exposure to an opportunity to use again. So keep them away from any temptation.
Be extremely sensitive to signs of relapse and withdrawal – do not let hope mask reality.
Understand their feelings. Recognize that even after recovery, your friend is still dealing with a substance use disorder and with the stigma of addiction –and can experience shame.
Respect their privacy. Their recovery is not a topic for social media.
Be there for your friend. But, remember their sobriety is not your responsibility.