Improving Your Life One Day At A Time

4 Conversational Topics To Avoid With A Friend Who Just Completed Alcohol Rehab

by Mauritânia Jesus

If a friend of yours is finally home from rehab, reaching out to them can be extremely helpful. Many people don't know how to deal with someone who's been through rehab, and they avoid them because they may not know what to say or because it makes them think about their own drinking. People home from rehab still need supportive friends to talk to, but some things may be hard for them to talk about or deal with in the early stages of recovery. Here are some topics to avoid bringing up right away.  

1. Details about rehab

Confronting and dealing with alcohol addiction can be difficult, both emotionally and physically. Your friend may not want to share the unpleasant details about what might be one of the most difficult things they've ever done. Furthermore, most rehab programs expect their clients to maintain confidentiality regarding other clients and staff. Pressing them for details can be an emotional trigger that they don't need when they are most vulnerable to relapsing.

2. Their mistakes

Odds are they've addressed the consequences of their drinking in rehab and they're aware of the problems it caused and the damage it did to others. They may have shared these things in therapy or in group sessions with professionals who are qualified to help the patient cope with and work through these feelings.

Some recovery programs include "making amends" with people they've hurt as part of the recovery process, but others don't. Bringing up their mistakes can imply that you are waiting for or expecting an apology, which can be very stressful to a person in recovery. It doesn't mean you won't get one eventually, but right now they may be focusing on staying away from alcohol.

3. Drinking

If the two of you used to drink together, try not to let the conversation focus on the great times you had together or how good alcohol made you feel. People in recovery struggle with the good feelings alcohol produced, and these good memories can make their recovery more difficult. It's easy to look back and exaggerate about how much fun it was, so avoid bringing up the party days. Instead, focus on the other things you have in common and your friendship going forward.

4. Their relapse

If this was their second (or more) stay in rehab, don't ask why it didn't work the first time or why they started drinking again. Just because an alcoholic takes a drink while in recovery does not mean rehab didn't work – the fact that they went back to rehab means they knew they needed more help, so just accept that it's part of the process.  They aren't a failure, nor are they "incurable" – recovering from alcohol addiction can be a lifelong process with a few stops and starts.

Whether your friend's stay in alcohol rehab was voluntary or court-ordered, completing it was an accomplishment. However, alcohol addiction treatment doesn't end when a person leaves rehab. Fighting addiction is a long struggle, and your friend will need supportive friends along the way, which sometimes means avoiding triggering subjects no matter how badly you want answers. Keep the lines of communication open, stay positive, and your friend may open up to you when he or she is ready to discuss them.

Read more about rehab here.