When someone you care about is struggling with addiction, it is only natural to want to empathize with them and say things that you think will make them feel better. However, without proper knowledge of addiction and what your loved one is going through, you may end up saying something that does more harm than good. Knowing what not to say to someone currently struggling can help you avoid specific phrases that may hurt the person you are trying to help. 

“Just Stop Using.”

A common misbelief regarding addiction is that those struggling just lack willpower. If they wanted to stop badly enough, they would. However, this is not how addiction works. It is a chronic disease that alters the structure of your brain’s reward system, and therefore even when an individual may want to stop, they cannot do so on their own. 

“If You Had Made Better Choices, You Wouldn’t Be in This Situation.”

No one wakes up and chooses to be addicted to drugs or alcohol. Addiction is not a glamorous life and often results in pain, loss, and grief. You never know what someone went through or is going through that caused them to turn to drugs or alcohol in the first place, so be mindful about what you say regarding their “choices” in life.

“Once an Addict, Always an Addict.”

Not only is this statement problematic in the sense that it calls someone struggling an “addict,” but it also assumes that those going through drug or alcohol addiction are incapable of change or making a better life for themselves. Calling someone an “addict” identifies them as nothing more than their current struggles with drug or alcohol addiction. This statement can also discourage individuals from seeking recovery, as they may believe that they will never be able to get better and change their lives for good.

“If You Don’t Change, I’m Giving Up On You.”

Many individuals who struggle with addiction do not choose whether they continue using or not. Because of the manner of the disease, those who want to stop and make significant changes to their life often find it very difficult to do so. Telling someone that you will give up on them if they don’t change immediately can make them feel even more guilty about their situation, making their addiction worse.


At Alta Loma Transformational Living, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  Alta Loma uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, where you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 866-457-3843.