As someone who has been sober for four years, I can honestly say that the support of people who love me has made all the difference in my recovery. Without their love and understanding, I’m not sure I would still be sober today.

Being an ally to someone in recovery doesn’t come naturally for everyone, though. For those who don’t have firsthand experience with addiction, it can be difficult to know the right way to provide a good support system. You may often wonder if you are doing too much or not doing enough when it comes to providing that support.

The truth is that every situation is different. There is no cut and dry way to be an ally to a loved one who has overcome, or is in the process of overcoming, an addiction. Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Make a true effort to understand what your loved one is going through.

While it’s not entirely possible to grasp the magnitude of addiction without having been through it, you can still make the effort to understand to the best of your ability. This could mean asking your loved one questions about their recovery and taking their responses to heart, or maybe reading about how addiction can affect a person. There are a plethora of resources on the internet that can aid you in educating yourself about addiction and recovery. Taking the steps to educate yourself about these topics shows your loved one that you truly care about what they are going through and want to do whatever possible to provide support.

2. Ask what your loved one needs from you as an ally.

The best way to offer a good support system is simply to ask what would benefit your loved one in their recovery. Some people like to be checked in on daily, while others find that type of support frustrating and overbearing. If they are unsure what they’d like from you, you can offer to attend a 12-step meeting with them, tell them you’re just a phone call or text away, or recommend good reading materials about recovery. Ultimately, however, it’s up to them to tell you what would be most helpful.

3. Do not enable addictive behaviors.

A Man With I Love You Written On His Hand Representing How To Be An Ally To A Loved One In Recovery

Even in recovery, certain addictive behaviors can still come through. If you recognize your loved one acting in a way similar to how they acted when they were using, call them out on it. While this doesn’t necessarily mean they are using again, it could be an indication that they want to or have been thinking about it. Certain behaviors can lead to relapse. If confronted early on, it could be the intervention needed in order to avoid that relapse and get your loved one back on track with their recovery.

4. Support their new passions and hobbies.

Anyone in recovery likely finds themselves with much more free time than they had while drinking or using. This typically leads to developing new hobbies and passions to fill this time. If these new activities are healthy and helpful in overcoming addiction, then tell them you are behind their interests 100 percent. It is vital for people in recovery to activities to fill their free time so they don’t find themselves returning to drinking or using. As an ally, you can offer to take part in these activities with them or just make it clear that you support their new found interests.

5. Tell them how you feel.

While it’s important for you to understand what your loved one is going through, it’s also vital for them to understand things from your point of view. This way, you’re all on the same page and the expectations from both sides are clear. Open dialogue is important in recovery. If you’re proud of your loved one, be sure to tell them. On the flip side, tell them if you’re frustrated or confused. Honesty is the best way for both sides to understand what they want and need from one another.

The circumstances surrounding addiction and recovery vary for all parties involved. Though this advice may work well for some people, it may not be the right course of action for everyone. The important thing is to have the conversations with your loved one so that expectations on all sides remain realistic.

  • Author — Last Edited: January 26, 2018
    Photo of Beth Leipholtz
    Beth Leipholtz
    Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. In her day-to-day life, she works as a reporter at the local newspaper. Her passions are writing about recovery at Lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design, and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. She hopes her writing can bring clarity to other young people struggling with addiction and let them know they are far from alone.

Sign up for our newsletter.

Get the latest on addiction and recovery.

Get help for alcoholism today.

If you or a loved one is ready to overcome an alcohol addiction, it’s time to get the help you deserve. We will find top-rated treatment programs that help you get and stay sober.

Speak with a treatment specialist 24/7

(877) 624-1853

- or -

Get the help you need now.

We’re here 24/7 to help guide you or your loved on through rehab and recovery. Make or receive a judgement-free call today with one of our compassionate rehab specialists.

Let Us Call You

(855) 860-9633

or Give Us a Call

1-844-449-9683

Get the help you need now.

We’re here 24/7 to help guide you or your loved on through rehab and recovery. Submit your number to receive a judgement-free call today with one of our compassionate rehab specialists.

(855) 860-9633

Where do calls go?

Callers will be routed to:

What does it mean that this site is brought to you by Delphi Behavioral Health Group?

We strive to be fully transparent in all of our relationships. To that end, we want you to be aware that Alcohol Rehab Guide is compensated by Delphi Behavioral Health Group for the work Alcohol Rehab Guide does in the development and operation of this site. Delphi Behavioral Health Group was carefully vetted and selected to be a trusted provider and partner with Alcohol Rehab Guide, based on the quality of treatment that Delphi provides and their rigorous commitment to ethical practices. Learn more about why Delphi Behavioral Health Group is a trusted provider with Alcohol Rehab Guide.

All calls to numbers on individual facility listings will always go to the facility listed. All calls to general contact numbers and contact us forms on this site are routed to Delphi Behavioral Health Group. If Delphi Behavioral Health Group is unable to assist with a particular need they are committed to providing direction and assistance in finding appropriate care.