Menu Close

14 Ways to Support Someone New in Recovery

a person comforts another, one of the ways to support someone in recovery

There are millions of people struggling with substance abuse and addiction, and it’s likely that you know someone who does. So when someone you care about takes the necessary steps to get sober, understand that you can play a part in their successful recovery. If you support your loved one through recovery, they’re more likely to stay sober. To fully support someone new in recovery is truly a gift. They need your love, kindness, and attentiveness to make it through the challenges of recovery. There are several ways to support someone in recovery, and most of them are easy.

Do you have a loved one struggling with addiction? Northpoint Washington’s addiction treatment programs can help. Call 888.450.2153 to get help now.

Rehab Is the Beginning of Recovery

Going to rehabilitation for addiction is an excellent beginning toward recovery. There is still so much work to be done, though. Coming back to normal life isn’t always easy due to old habits and past triggers. The recovery process should be followed, and you can help a person do this. The recovery process truly begins when someone in recovery does these things:

  • They begin to deal with their problems without turning to drugs or alcohol, and it doesn’t become overwhelming.
  • They understand their boundaries and how to separate their own problems from other people.
  • They have one person in their life with whom they can be truly honest. If they are honest with someone on the outside, they are coming to terms with reality within themselves, too.
  • They take time out when they become emotionally or physically exhausted.

Ending the cycle of substance abuse and moving toward sobriety is the right choice, but it’s extremely difficult. Being sober opens up a lot of wounds, and healing can be painful for everyone involved. For you to truly help the newly sober person in your life, patience will be required. You need to push them to move forward and motivate them to keep up their sobriety.

What to Remember when Supporting Someone in Recovery

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are four key components of recovery that promote long-term progress, health, and wellness.1

  • Health – Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health are top priorities after getting sober
  • Home – A safe, supportive environment to call home can bring peace and security
  • Purpose – Working toward an inner belief helps stave off boredom while connecting with something more meaningful
  • Community – Building healthy relationships with others who truly care reinforces a sense of purpose and accountability

These broad topics can help guide the ways you support someone in recovery.

How to Support Someone in Recovery

Getting sober is one thing; staying sober is a lifelong journey. This journey is much easier with a little help from friends, family, and loved ones. After someone gets through addiction treatment, they need the right kind of support and encouragement to continue their journey. There is a feeling of isolation for the newly sober, and isolation can quickly lead to relapse. Being able to show someone they’re not alone through actions and words is important for the newly sober. There are many other ways to support someone in recovery, including:

1. Acceptance for the Recovering Addict

Be accepting of the person, and don’t place judgment. Individuals in recovery often say they feel judged by the people around them. Don’t criticize or be negative toward them. Express your love and practice compassion for someone who is staying sober.

2. Create a Safe Space for Recovery

Creating a space that has no substances for someone in recovery is extremely important for success. Studies about the efficacy of staying in a sober living house show that there are certain methods that have been proven to work.2 You can create a similar environment at home and other places they frequent. Take away any drug paraphernalia or alcohol and encourage them to avoid places that can trigger old habits, causing relapse.

3. Listen When They Want to Talk

When they want to talk, listen. Pay attention to what they’re saying. Not all individuals in recovery want to talk, but if they do, take the time to listen. Sometimes, they just need a sounding board.

4. Create a Healthy Environment

If you happen to be the one making meals, cook them healthy foods that are full of nutrients. In rehabilitation, patients receive nutritious meals to make up for the abuse their bodies have gone through. This should continue once the newly sober person comes home. Another positive way you can influence them is by promoting exercise and engagement in other healthy challenges. The exercise will boost endorphin levels and take their mind off of recovery challenges like cravings and depression. Creating new, happy memories gives someone in recovery hope.

5. Help Them Find a Support Group

Support them by helping them find the courage to go to a support group. You can suggest it and even volunteer to go along with them. There are open groups where you can join them and even talk through how you feel about everything. Otherwise, they can go to a closed support group where they can freely interact with others in recovery. This gives them a space to open up to people who have gone through the same battles.

6. Be Patient

Practice patience with your newly recovering loved one. The process for recovery is complex and lengthy. Sometimes, relapses happen. Your initial reaction might be to lose your temper, but this is the last thing they need. What they really need is to know that you still love them and are still going to support them.

7. Avoid Judgment

There are some things you should avoid doing and saying, including being judgmental, while you’re supporting someone recovering from addiction. They are going through a lot of things on their own accord. Making it worse could trigger intense feelings and cravings.

8. Avoid Pressure

This is especially true in the first few months. Their life may have fallen apart. They aren’t working, and they may feel depressed or anxious. They may have health issues. This is not the time to tell them to go get a job or to get a life. Pushing someone to do more than they can manage can put unnecessary pressure on their recovery. Give them time to create the necessary foundation to fully heal and recover.

9. Take Things in Stride

This is especially true in the early phases of recovery. The person in recovery may be making their health a top priority instead of you. They may be focusing on their own aftercare, or perhaps they are just looking inward to find some answers. Counseling sessions may take up their time instead of nights out with you. This is a necessary part of their process as they focus on getting better. In time, this strengthens any friendships or partnerships.

10. Keep Communicating

It’s better to voice your confusion or frustration than to say nothing at all. Family therapy might be a good idea if you have a hard time voicing your opinion in a way that still maintains a compassionate tone.

11. Let Them Build Resilience

Often, in recovery, the moments of “rock bottom” are where real healing begins. When they can overcome these moments, they start to feel their power. If you intervene before they process things on their own, they may not build resilience and may become codependent on you. This puts a great amount of pressure on you, and it’s not fair to them either. They are ultimately responsible for themselves, so have faith that they’re strong enough. Communicate that you’re there for them whenever they need you.

12. Be Honest

Don’t live in silence for fear of causing someone to relapse. When an individual goes to rehabilitation, they become well aware that they are responsible for themselves. They have to find their own strength and learn to cope with their life and relationships. They may voice that you triggered them to relapse. This is never the case. Nothing you say or do causes a relapse, and if they do, it’s not your fault. Be honest about how you feel without worrying about the outcome.

13. Don’t Make Assumptions

Ask what the person in recovery who is in your life needs from you. Making this a clear and honest conversation helps you to give them what they need. Some people in recovery may need a lot of help, while others may feel more comfortable getting help outside of their homes.

14. Move Forward

You have probably been hurt by their past substance abuse, but it’s time to move forward from past pain like they are. Not letting go of what happened while they were under the influence of substances prevents the necessary growth for everyone to heal. You may wish to get your own therapy to find peace and understanding. Becoming well-informed of what addiction does to someone might also be helpful.

Call Northpoint Washington for More Help

It’s difficult to support someone in their recovery journey, but it is essential for their success and well-being. If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, please reach out to our team at Northpoint Washington. We offer personalized inpatient treatment programs to help individuals overcome substance abuse and live healthy, sober lives. Call 888.450.2153 or contact us online to get started.


  1. SAMHSA – Recovery and Recovery Support
  2. Alcohol Research Group – Sober Living Houses (SLH) Research