When you have a family member or friend who is recovering from an addiction, you might not know exactly what to say to them as they approach a sobriety milestone. It doesn’t matter whether it’s been one year or ten since they have been sober. It’s important to acknowledge their accomplishment and encourage them to continue on their journey. If you want to know how to congratulate someone on sobriety in a manner that’s comfortable for both of you, keep reading.
Express Pride & Support
Relapse is a common occurrence for someone who is going through the recovery stage of addiction. In fact, a study by JAMA indicates that 40 to 60 percent of people treated for alcohol or addiction will relapse in the first year. The path of recovery is a life long, challenging process, and reinforcing their positive behavior will go a long way to helping a recovering addict.
The statement, “I’m proud of you” is a powerful reminder of how far they’ve come. Let them know that you are proud of their commitment to staying sober. Be sure to also recognize and acknowledge that recovery is not easy. A sober anniversary should be treated like a birthday, anniversary, or similar events. It’s a milestone deserving recognition for achievement.
There is no end to the road to sobriety; use this time to let your loved one know that you are there for them if they ever need it. Some people aren’t the type to reach out and ask for help when they need it. For those types of loved ones, think of ways that you can help make sober living easier on a day-to-day basis.
Reinforcing your relationship with a loved one in recovery shows them that you are there for them. Having strong relationships make it less likely for them to experience a relapse when they have someone who they can count on for support.
Offer Help and Companionship
Sobriety often feels like a lonely path for those who are in recovery whether they’re struggling or not. Let them know that they’re not alone in this and you are invested in their success. Offer them help and positivity that they can count on when they hit a roadblock (which will happen) during recovery.
There are many different ways to provide companionship to help someone feel the support of others during this time. Sending a daily text to see what they’re up to, inviting them to a sober event, or meeting up occasionally for coffee or board games are a few examples. Having that connection will encourage them to open up if they are struggling or give them the reason they need to stay sober.
Affirm Their Progress and What They Deserve
Verbally recognizing the progress someone has made in their sobriety shows them that others are also aware of their progress. People who are in recovery have had the opportunity to reflect on how their actions have impacted their work, life, and personal relationships. It can often make them feel undeserving and carry guilt for the negative repercussions that their addiction has caused.
Telling them how they are deserving of their new life without addiction will build their confidence in continuing their journey. Here are some statements that you can use to provide positive reinforcement:
- “I’m so proud of you”
- “I’m so happy to see you taking care of yourself”
- “You are so strong”
- “I’m happy that you’re doing well”
- “You are inspiring”
- “You deserve to be happy”
- “You are deserving of a happy and healthy life”
- “Keep on fighting”
There are other ways to show someone how proud you are of them other than words. Celebrate in a special way by doing something to mark the occasion. This could be an annual meal out, a day trip out to the lake, or doing something else that your loved one enjoys doing to mark the occasion. There are also many thoughtful gifts that can be presented during this milestone.
What Not To Say
There are some things that when said even with the best intentions, might be the wrong thing to say when someone is celebrating a sober anniversary. Some examples of things that you should avoid saying to someone include the following:
- “I have a friend that’s in recovery”
- “I didn’t know you were going through this”
- “How long ago did you become sober?”
- “I can understand how you feel”
When having a discussion about someone’s sobriety, it’s best to focus on how proud you feel for their success. Don’t ask them personal or invasive questions that will make them feel uncomfortable. Talk about the positive aspects of their life and avoid these example phrases in the conversation.
Talk with Professionals About Recovery Programs
If you or a loved one is ready to begin the road to recovery, get in touch with Aquila Recovery. We are here to help you reach your goal of sobriety through programs that are designed to support a life free of addiction. Contact us today to learn more.