Get help today 888-319-2606 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

7 Tips for Being a Good Friend to Someone in Recovery

Although rehab is a powerful step for someone struggling with substance use, it’s what they do after treatment that will be most crucial to their long-term sobriety. Friendship and support is essential to this process, but many times people don’t know how they can help someone in addiction recovery, especially if they don’t have a substance abuse problem themselves. Luckily, many of the things you can do to help are simple acts that amount to being the caring friend you already were. Here are seven easy ways that you can help someone in recovery.

Be Yourself

It’s important for people in recovery to not feel as though they’re different from their friends just because they can’t drink anymore or they have to avoid certain situations. While you should absolutely avoid taking a newly sober friend to a bar or other social activity that involves substances, the way you act around them should remain the same as before. Simply put: be yourself and your old friendship will likely be reclaimed.

Learn Relapse Warning Signs

Unfortunately, relapses do happen – they typically occur within the first year of sobriety. Before your friend reaches the low points of their addiction again, learn the warning signs of a relapse and what actions you can take if you see this occurring.

Just Listen

Sometimes all a person in recovery needs is a non-judgmental ear. Especially in the early stages of recovery, a newly sober person may begin experiencing thoughts and emotions they previously tried to avoid through substance use. Asking non-accusatory questions or just simply listening can help them work through their own issues and break down the barriers in your friendship.

Share Your Own Struggles

Your friend’s substance use may have impacted or hurt you as well, so it’s also important that you get a chance to work through those issues. In a non-accusatory way, explain to your friend how their drug or alcohol use affected your life and your friendship. Most recovering addicts are eager to repair the relationships that were tainted by substance abuse. The urge to heal prompts most newly sober people to happily listen to and support their friends’ feelings.

Encourage Healthy Habits

Find substance-free activities that the two of you can do together including cooking, working out or spending time outdoors. It’s important for a person in recovery to realize that being sober isn’t the end of their social life.

Be Patient

Recovery is a marathon and not a sprint. People who make mistakes in the recovery process are only human, so it’s important for them to know that, as a true friend, you will support them as long as they remain committed to getting better.

Join a Support Group

In addition to encouraging your friend to join a support group where recovering addicts can meet other recovering addicts, there are also a number of groups that specifically cater to the friends and loved ones of people in recovery. You should definitely consider joining one of these groups; the knowledge you gain will ultimately make your friendship stronger and healthier.   Learn more about the recovery process and living in sobriety. Flickr Images/GallaryHip/Instagram

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.