Do you count many recovering addicts as your friends and allies? These folks are the ones who understand the joy, struggle, and intensity of recovery. They also understand how much hard work it takes to stay clean and sober. Fellowship is an empowering element in recovery, so I urge you to surround yourself with others who are striving towards the same goal. As you interact with others, please keep these tips for etiquette between recovering addicts in mind. We must be mindful of how we treat each other, especially since recovery can make us vulnerable.
Respect an Addict’s Sobriety Time
We’ve all had just minutes of sobriety once upon a time. We can help each other cultivate those minutes into days and years through respect and patience. Instead of questioning the sincerity of a newbie or thinking a veteran is above relapse, encourage all recovering addicts to maintain their treatment plan and stay on track. Use your recovery time as an inspiration, not a rank. We’re all in this together, so respect etiquette between recovering addicts.
Acknowledge an Addiction’s Power
Getting clean and sober isn’t a game. Never argue that your addiction, or a certain type of addiction, is more difficult to kick than others. This belittles the struggle of other addicts. The substance is just a piece of the puzzle; addiction also stems from trauma, pain, biology, and other environmental factors. Who are we to determine the depth of someone’s inner turmoil? Embrace community, not contest. All addictions are powerful, everyone is different, and we’re stronger together.
Value a Variety of Recovery Paths
You might rely on faith to fortify your recovery, but not everyone shares that belief. Respect that all addicts and recovery paths are different. That is a wonderful thing! Diverse courses of exploration into recovery can lead to more knowledge about the disease and how to heal. If you accept and encourage the healthy choices in others, you prep them for success.
Protect an Addict’s Privacy
I know this is tricky, but it’s one of the most important rules of etiquette between recovering addicts. You are so proud of your fellow recovering addict; they’ve just reached a year of sobriety and you want to share your excitement! No matter how thrilled we are, we need to make sure it’s okay. Everyone’s privacy needs are different. They have their reasons. Think carefully about social media posts, understand the reach and impact they can have, and always ask first!
Listen to Newcomers and Veterans
Every addict has a story. I know it’s tempting to half-listen to newcomers because they are naïve or to tune out an old-timer’s words because they’re repetitive. I believe the golden rule applies here; treat others as you wish to be treated. If you want to speak, give others the same opportunity. If you want to be heard, listen.
Support an Addict Who Continuously Relapses
Whether you’ve relapsed or not, I urge you to be mindful and judgment-free. 40 to 60 percent of all addicts relapse at least once. Some addicts will relapse many times before finally finding their footing. Rather than assuming that they hopeless, try to guide them on the right path as both an etiquette between addicts and as an act of support. No one is a lost cause. However, keep in mind that your recovery comes first; if you feel threatened by being close to their slip-ups, it’s time to reassess your position and gain some distance.
Etiquette Between Recovering Addicts Means Respecting Triggers
As all addictions are different, relapse triggers are different, too. Addicts can be pressured by stress, time of year, relationships, and even odors. Instead of questioning their sincerity, deeming a triggering event as insignificant, or taking a higher moral ground, accept that it’s the personal nature of their addiction. Respect their boundaries. We need to lift each other up rather than make comparisons or judgments.
Good manners aren’t just for the dinner table, they’re also for etiquette between recovering addicts. Uphold these seven etiquette tips with every recovering addict you know. They may seem simple, but the impact they can have on a recovering addict’s confidence is worth respecting. We can all help each other help ourselves.