What to Say to Someone in Drug Rehab

Making the conscious decision to end one’s relationship with drugs, alcohol, or both is something that only about 10% of Americans with a substance use disorder ever bother to do. And that 10% is a relatively small percentage when you consider that the U.S. is home to nearly 32 million illegal drug users. So to be part of that minority of people committed to getting their lives back on track by putting substance abuse behind them should be commended. But the journey toward sobriety is not easy, and many people relapse during or immediately after completing rehab, especially those without a strong support group.

encouraging words

According to a study published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the relapse rate among individuals with a substance use disorder is around 40 to 60%, with the majority relapsing while still in addiction recovery and the remainder relapsing within weeks or months of completing rehab. But this 40 to 60% relapse rate would be much lower if individuals trying to overcome addiction had a network of friends and family in their corner to help keep them on track.

The Role of Encouragement in Addiction Recovery

One of the best things friends and family members can offer to a loved one trying to overcome addiction is words of encouragement. The right words can be powerful enough to effect meaningful and long-lasting change in someone’s life. And this explains why so many age-old quotes still resonate with people today, especially those having to do with achieving sobriety and living a fulfilling life. “Recovery is the only high that keeps getting better as you do it” is an example of a proud sober quote on pinterest.com that can benefit those needing to feel motivated and inspired while trying to get clean. By the way, the website has hundreds if not thousands of quotes that are just as impactful. Of course, there is also something to be said for insightful and encouraging words offered by friends and family members when someone is at their lowest point in life.

Encouragement and Detox: The Untold Truth About Getting Clean

While words of encouragement can benefit someone at every stage of their addiction recovery, they probably need to hear them the most while trying to get through detox. In short, detox is the body’s natural way of purging itself of drugs, alcohol, and other harmful contaminants once an individual stops using. Although it is a critical and integral part of achieving short and long-term sobriety, detox comes at a cost in that it triggers a wide range of unpleasant symptoms. And many of those symptoms can send individuals spiraling toward relapse. Some of these symptoms, many of which can present within hours or days once an individual stops using, include

  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in mood
  • Congestion
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Runny nose
  • Shakiness
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Profuse sweating
  • Tremors

Many of the more than 14,500 rehab facilities in the U.S. offer prescription-based medications to help ease the severe withdrawal symptoms associated with abrupt drug or alcohol cessation; however, those medications alone are not always enough. Some people need to hear the reassuring and encouraging words of a friend, mother, father, sister, and others close to them to make getting through detox a slightly less hellish experience. Since we are on the topic, it is worth noting that many also need to hear those comforting, reassuring, and encouraging words after they have completed rehab and have returned home. Studies show the risk of relapsing due to giving in to temptation or being in the company of people who are still using is exceptionally high during the first few weeks of checking out of rehab.

You're not alone

Encouraging Things to Say to a Friend or Family Member Going Through Rehab

There is no shortage of encouraging things to say to a friend or family member committed to breaking the cycle of addiction. But you have to know what to say and when to say it to achieve a favorable outcome, say many addiction counselors. In a recent study, a large percentage of individuals going through detox in a licensed rehab facility said hearing the following reinforced their commitment to get sober and the strength necessary to cope with severe withdrawal symptoms:

You’re Not Alone

Although it might seem small and inconsequential, individuals feel empowered to stay focused on overcoming addiction when they know they have the support of people they love. So if someone you love says they feel like they can no longer handle detox and the associated withdrawal symptoms, consider telling them that you are there for them in spirit and remind them they are strong and can get through anything.

Being Reminded of Why They Chose to Get Sober in the First Place

When the going gets tough, the tough don’t always get going. Some people fold under the pressures of change, challenge, and uncertainty. And staying on course and getting through rehab is no exception. According to a study published by the University of Minnesota, staying focused on goals improves the chances of achieving them, and this is where a strong network of friends and family can be beneficial. Individuals who are reminded of the following by friends and family tend to do better during and after rehab:

  • Fulfilling a promise to a spouse or children
  • Avoiding legal problems
  • Avoiding an overdose that could lead to their death
  • Lowering their chances of suffering health problems related to chronic alcohol or drug use
  • Being able to become gainfully employed

The Importance of Taking Things One Day at a Time

Many people in addiction recovery forget that rehab is not a sprint but rather a marathon. Most drug and alcohol addiction recovery programs in rehab facilities in the U.S. last between 30 and 90 days. Further, rehabilitation can last for years if an individual goes to a sober living home or partakes in support groups after rehab. It is not uncommon for some people to lose sight of this and become frustrated. Being reminded by a friend or family member of how overcoming addiction can change their life for the better makes it easier for some people to forget about their frustrations and focus instead on getting sober.

Knowing Someone Recognizes and Is Proud of Their Achievements

In addition to knowing they are not alone and getting reminded of why they are going to rehab in the first place, many people want to know that someone on the outside is proud of them. And this applies to big or small achievements they made since checking into rehab and getting started on a recovery program. Studies show some people are happy just knowing someone is proud of them for completing an addiction education course or resisting the temptation to quit rehab and start using again. It doesn’t have to be about the big things alone. No matter the size of the achievement, taking a moment to think about encouraging things to say when a loved one achieves a big or small milestone on their journey to sobriety shows you’re proud of them and want nothing more than to see them succeed.

Final Thoughts on What to Say to Someone in Drug Rehab

Whether they’re going through detox, finished rehab and returned home, or decided to continue their recovery journey by going to a sober living home or partaking in a support group, encouraging a loved one to get and stay clean is always a good thing. And at some point, they will likely thank you for being so supportive.


  • What to say to someone in rehab?

My Loved One Is


How Do I Get Them


24/7 Confidential Helpline

Have Any Questions?

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Ready to Make a Change?

We understand that the treatment process can be difficult at times. At Long Island Interventions, we are committed to assisting you in making progress towards a new life free from the grips of addiction.
For Confidential Help, Call Now:

Long Island Interventions Helpline

If you are seeking drug and alcohol treatment resources for yourself or a loved one, our helpline is a confidential and convenient solution. Callers are referred to JCAHO accredited rehab facilities in our network of recommended treatment providers. Alternatives to finding addiction treatment or learning about substance abuse: