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7 Things Recovering Addicts Want You to Know

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

August 30, 2022 (Originally Published)

January 11, 2024 (Last Updated)

Table of Contents

Recovering addicts are often looked upon with consternation, largely due to misconceptions or generalization. If you ever had the opportunity to sit and talk with someone in this position, here is what recovering addicts want you to know:

They never chose to become an addict.

Although they chose that first drink or that first high, they never chose to become an addict. Everyday, normal people develop an addiction simply by taking drugs that were prescribed by a doctor for a legitimate medical condition.

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Over time, prescription drugs change the way a person’s brain functions. They might continue taking the pills to feel treat their pain. Before they know it, they’ve become addicted have begun to crave higher and higher doses just to manage their pain. Not all addictions start this way. Some addiction problems stem from experimenting with a substance just once. Drugs like ecstasy, Methamphetamine and others are just a few of the common examples that can cause an instant addiction. These drugs can trigger a spiraling effect with a single dose.

Addiction can happen to anyone, any time.

Addiction knows no color, race, creed or class. It affects people of all backgrounds, rich or poor, old or young. Addicts are not all the same. Your next door neighbor can be an addict, so can your boss. The struggle of addiction is something that doesn’t discriminate. There are some things to look for, some of which we’ve heard since we were young.

The talk of gateway drugs that parents used to give to young people was factually. Research showed as early as the 1960s that use of certain substances make some people more likely to become addicted.

For example, if someone starts drinking or using marijuana at a young age, they’re more likely to developing an addiction later. Living with a family member who is suffering from drug or alcohol abuse problem also increases the likelihood of addiction.

The reasons why they began abusing drugs or alcohol are complicated.

In most cases, there’s no single, identifiable reason why a person becomes addicted to substances. In some cases, people abuse substances to manage or mitigate any stressful situations or emotional problems they’re facing.

Things like a bad living situation, relationship problems, stress from a job or even mental illness can trigger people to begin using substances. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people who end up seeking treatment for addiction to also be receiving treatment for a co-occurring mental condition like depression or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Rehab facilities today are now much better equipped to handle addiction and their various root causes. The standard practice today is not to focus solely on the addiction, but rather to custom tailor treatment solutions based on the individual’s needs and taking into account underlying causes and mental health. This methodology helps to increase the chances of success. When we talk to people during treatment, we try to get a sense of what compelled them to addiction in the first place. More often than not, what recovering addicts want you to know the most that it was usually multiple factors that led to their addiction.

Bringing up their past is counterproductive to rebuilding their future.

When an addict finally seeks help for their addiction, it was a tough choice and a big step. The amount of inner strength and courage required should not be taken lightly. During this difficult time, family members might dwell on the addict’s previous mistakes. This is extremely counterproductive for someone in recovery. Recovering addicts are highly vulnerable and fragile in recovery. It’s better to focus on the positive, including how treatment is helping them and reminding them that a positive outcome will change their life for the better. What they need is encouragement and support.

They never intended to hurt or disappoint anyone.

A person consumed by addiction is not aware of the emotional damage they’re causing to others. They’re completely wrapped up in their addiction, singularly focused on their next opportunity to use. Everything and everyone around them is expendable or an impediment to getting that next fix. They need the escape from reality only found through continued use of substances.

The addict’s friends and loved ones suffer the most, as their efforts to help often are rejected. Moreover, an addict is largely incapable of actively participating in a two-way relationship. The intent of the addict here is not to harm anyone else — to the contrary. The addict is trying to escape from the stressors pressing down upon him. This is why many addicts choose to hide their addiction, as they do not want to hurt or disappoint anyone. They prefer to internalize the stress or pain they’re feeling.

Freeing the addict from this isolation is a big part of the recovery process. Many rehab programs will encourage family therapy as a part of a person’s holistic recovery journey in order to help repair and strengthen relationships.

Underneath their addiction, there is a person worth loving.

It’s important to remember that the addict you’re seeing is not the truest form of that person. Underneath that veneer is a human being that you knew and loved. Addiction masks the true inner-self of a person and as such, once free from addiction, you’ll see the very best version of that person. What recovering addicts want you to know is that they’ll need your love and support throughout the recovery process.

How to Help Someone In Recovery

If you have a loved one close to you stricken by addiciton you may want to know how you can support them. Often times individuals want to be helpful and supportive but are at a lost to what steps they should take. Very often those in recovery will not ask directly for help, If that’s the case, make sure to let it be known you’re there for them. Make it clear you want to help. A simple “I am here for you no matter what” can make huge difference in a persons confidence in recovery.

Living With a Recovering Addict

Often times getting into rehab is the most difficult part. But it is not a cure all. Often times even though you have gone through rehab there are still obstacles to tackle once your loved one returns home. While rehabilitation is a great first step to recovery, does not ensure lasting wellness, and it can even create new challenges.

Often, rehab will change an individual’s goals, expectations, behavior, and even personality. In turn, this can change the way loved ones feel and interact. It can also bring forth underlying issues that were long covered up by addiction.

The Best Way You can support someone back from recovery is:

  • Educate yourself on recovery from addiction
  • Understand there will still be unresolved issues
  • Don’t have unreasonable expectations
  • Make changes to support sobriety
  • Find extra support

Get Help for Addiction Today

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, please reach out to us. We’ll help match you with the best program for your needs and situation. Reach out today to learn more about our Orange County detox program, as well as our inpatient and outpatient treatment options.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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