Life is hard. And in 2022 alone, there have been a reported 50,000 deaths by suicide. People are suffering and doing their best to simply keep going as the world continues to be a place where we are struggling to show up for ourselves and for others. The pandemic truly took a toll on those who self-medicate through the use of drugs and/or alcohol. While many may have been doing just fine before the stay-at-home order, quite a few people found themselves faced with a lot of their trauma at an extremely isolating time. As the world opens back up and we all come back into community together, you may find yourself having to be there for a friend who is in active recovery. This may mean creating alternative outings to avoid exposing them to substances or even showing up at meetings as a form of support. 

If you are standing in the gap for a friend in recovery, here are some ways to really show you care. 

Attend an AA or NA meeting with them. 

Many addicts say that having the physical support of their friends and loved ones at meetings makes them feel the love many say they have for them. It’s worth asking if they’d like some company as they find the courage to seek help and speak up in these meetings. Follow their lead and definitely only attend if they agree to your presence. 

Plan gatherings that do not revolve around alcohol/substances. 

This may not be the time to meet up at your favorite dive bar or winery. This may also not be the time to head to a festival where drugs are part of the overall experience of event. Opt for trips and meetups that are just as fun and fulfilling but that keep both of your minds occupied on something other than what’s missing. 

Be a listening ear, not an advisor. 

Those of us who do not struggle with addiction cannot ever put ourselves in the shoes of people who do. Because addiction is a disease, we should tread lightly on advising them on how to live with it. This is a great time to use your ears and quiet your opinions. 

Encourage them to find and confide in a sponsor. 

Because we are not well-versed in the experience of being addicts ourselves, it is important that we advise our friends to rely on those that are. If they are actively going to meetings, encourage them to find a reliable sponsor with whom they can express their feelings when things get tough. Our own care can only go so far when dealing with things we have not experienced ourselves. 

Put them in your phone favorites as to not miss attempts to connect. 

If you’re a DND type of girl, you may want to add your friend to your list of people whose calls and texts you can always receive. Recovery is such a crucial time for many addicts and even the smallest windows of time can create a path to falling off the wagon. 

Mitigate your own expectations. 

Recovery is not for you, it is for your friend. Of course, you want to see them taking care of themselves and being on the other side of their addiction but recovering is a lifelong journey. There may be peaks and valleys on their road and, chances are, they cannot handle the weight of your expectations along with their own.

Celebrate every milestone. 

Every sober day your friend has is cause for celebration. It is so hard to face our demons and come back whole. So, nothing is too much when it comes time to show your friend how proud of them you are for winning their battle. It is truly a one day at a time feat so find a moment to express your pride when you can.