Understanding The Heartaches OF Helping A Friend In Recovery

Helping a friend in recovery can be one of the more heartbreaking things you can undertake. One minute you will be up while the next you find yourself disappointed and down. Can I let you in on a secret? You could get hurt in the process! Most likely, your task will not be an easy one. It is so hard to maintain an even feeling of contentment, pride and joy whenever you are trying to deal with anyone who is going through recovery.

May I take the liberty to define recovery or at least explain our position and stance we take regarding the word. Whenever we talk about recovery, we mean getting rid of habits, miseries, hurts, mistakes or (bad) memories. You may not be recovering from drugs or alcohol, but it could be recovery from abuse, gambling or any other thing in your life that causes you to be less of the person you are capable of being. I have added an acronym for recovery that could help you better understand why sometimes heartaches are caused by the friends you are trying to help.











Reading: Choices Rule in Recovery

By weighing every choice several times, making the right ones become easier. Looking at the choices, writing them down and reading the results of making them causes you to select the best for you. If you rush into choices, it is so easy to follow someone else back into your habit, mistake, hurt, misery or (bad) memory. However, if you take the time to write the choices you could make, take time to read them and then decide which one is best for you, most likely it will be the right choice. In other words you have the following situation:

my choices — possible results — best choice for me.

To help a friend or family member in recovery, help them learn to make better choices! Don’t desert the friend or relative if he/she should make a bad choice. You can support a friend or relative without enabling.

Enable: Support Without Helping Keep The Habit

Whenever you begin to help someone recovery from some habit or hurt, the tendency is to show compassion and kindness. The individual needs some of this, but too much simply enables them to continue in the mistake or misery. According to Webster’s Online Dictionary, enable means to furnish with means and opportunities; to confer sufficient power upon. When you enable your friend, you help them continue in their habit or hurt. You take them to get their fix.

Support means to keep from failing or sinking; to solace under effective circumstances; to assist; to encourage; to defend; When you support, you uphold their attempts to get beyond their habit or hurt. You don’t help them find ways to continue in them. Support takes strength to say no! One who supports will help their friend make better choices without nagging. Sometimes in order to support a friend, you learn to walk away. Don’t be with him/her whenever the individual is engaged in their habit or hurt.

Choice: Teach Quality Choices

Breaking a habit, hurt, mistake, misery or (bad) memory requires a quality choice by the individual. You only want to support that choice and the good things that go with it. Attitude is a choice. Teach your friend to improve his attitude in an effort for him/her to make better choices. Think and be positive with your friend hoping that your positive attitude will be seen and copied by your friend. Along with positive attitude, he must learn commitment. Most often a lack of commitment goes with one who has developed a bad habit or hurt.

Validates: Confirm Correct Actions

Every time your friend does something right, lavish praise on him/her. It is possible that the lack of validation is why the person has the problem. Usually the habit or hurt is only a symptom of a disease that lies buried, deep inside. Poor self-esteem, abuse, bitterness, never forgiven the individual who means most in the life of the person, any of these could be the real problem. The mistake, misery or (bad) memory stems from the underlying cause. You simply can’t put a bandage on a wound that is so grievous

Restores: Becoming Whole

The total purpose of your involvement with your friend is to help restore them to his/her old self. You want to help your friend discover a brand new person. You would like for his/her old self to be gone, and the new person to evolve out of the ashes of his/her former self. Ideally, the process is just that–a process. It may take lots of time with many heartaches. You might have to leave your friend in order for healing to take place. After all, do you want what’s best for you or best for your friend? What are you seeking as an end result or exit strategy? Most likely, you want for him/her to be well, to be rid of the habit or hurt that keeps your friend bound. What are you willing to do to see the end result for him/her?

Many times you get involved with another, and the process becomes way too lengthy or time-consuming. Your friend doesn’t respond the exact way you had planned. So, it is at this time you bail out! “I simply can’t take this anymore,” you cry. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to get involved?” before you make your decision to get involved. What if your friend isn’t ready to be helped? What if your friend will not make a quality decision to quit or be made whole? What then?


You have gotten out of your comfort zone, and you decide to help a friend who has a habit, mistake, misery or (bad) memory in his/her life that you want to help the individual overcome. Are you willing to give all of yourself to helping? Is there anything that could keep you from helping? If so, don’t begin. Then, too, you can’t be a wimp to pull this off. If you are going to help your friend, you must be strong. You must learn to say “no” often and firmly. You will need to except the fact that there could be disappointments and heartaches along the way. Many who begin recovery are not totally committed to getting away from their habits, mistakes or (bad) memories. Recovery is painful for them as well. Examine yourself closely. Make sure you have what it takes to go the distance. If not, you’re better off not starting.

We know the heartaches of recovery. Our workbook is a great tool to help someone get through the pain of recovery. It is inexpensive, and if money is an issue, you can receive it for free. Contact us today! Let us know exactly the role you are playing in the recovery of a friend. We’re here to help.







4 thoughts on “Understanding The Heartaches OF Helping A Friend In Recovery”


    1. Hey Kathy,
      I’m available most of the time, and I’m always available for you and the former students. Why don’t you message me Howard Coffey in Western Kentucky, on FB, and I will get you my information. Then we can talk. Blessings!

  2. Great blog post. It’s so important to be able to say no and take care of yourself without getting into codependent behaviors or people pleasing. Addicts need the dignity to make their own choices but as their friend, we need to be kind without sacrificing ourselves.

    1. You are so right Michelle. Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m really new at this, and I have learned so much from
      visiting your blog. Any advice you can give will be accepted graciously. If I can be of help to you, let me know.
      I offer an eBook, Choosing Recovery, that I have used in prisons, jails, with groups and individuals. I want to
      use it to begin an online group and use Skype as the medium for our support time.
      Sorry, I didn’t mean to take so long. Let me know if I can help!

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