5 Ways to Help a Friend Stay Sober

5 Ways to Help a Friend Stay Sober


Many individuals who decide to seek help for substance abuse and addiction may believe detox and rehab are mere parts of the recovery process. In reality, ending substance abuse is only the beginning of a life long journey. Staying sober takes commitment, purpose and determination. Millions of people struggle with addiction each year so it is more likely than ever a loved one is in need of help to stay sober. Learn how to help a friend remain sober and clean.


Characteristics of Addiction

Persons with addiction who receive professional support must go through rehab and begin the recovery process by starting the following actions:

  • Cope with life situations without drugs or alcohol
  • Realizes personal boundaries
  • Has one trusted companion with whom to be fully honest
  • Practices self care


Encouraging Sobriety

Sobriety is a life-long journey made easier with the support of friends and family members. When a person completes addiction treatment, others may not know how to encourage recovery but it can be helpful to start with the following suggestions:

  • Accept the person without judgment. Many persons recovering from addiction feel judged by families and friends so avoid negative, judgmental statements
  • Create a substance-free environment by being surrounded with positive things away from drugs and alcohol
  • Practice active listening and be available to hear about victories and struggles
  • Encourage healthy habits (cooking food, exercising, playing games)
  • Suggest joining a support group to provide added encouragement
  • Practice patience as recovery is a long and complicated process. Let people know mistakes are ok and support is still available no matter what


Helping Someone Avoid Relapse

Addiction relapse can happen to any person battling addiction but not every person experiences relapse. Approximately half of people treated for addiction will remain in recovery without any setbacks. The person with addiction is the only one who can ultimately decide whether or not to take a drink, do drugs or stay in recovery. The following are ways to help a loved one avoid relapse:

  • Support the loved one to stay in treatment and follow-up therapies
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) may work for some people but it does not work for everyone. Do not push a loved one into addiction treatment deemed most helpful by anyone other than the person who has addiction.
  • Support a change in relapse triggers including environment, social scene and specific stressful or emotional situations


Although it is helpful to support a loved one with addiction through recovery, it is not incumbent on others to make sure a person with addiction does not relapse. Ultimately, it is up to the individual with addiction to take steps to avoid relapse and stay in the right programs. Support from loved ones can make a huge difference in providing help through the ups and downs of recovery which last a lifetime.


A lifetime is a long time to be sober. Surround yourself with positive people, places and activities to stay the course and avoid relapse. If you feel triggered, there is help. Call the Villa to find out how we can help you get back on track to sobriety.