“Asking for a Friend”

“Asking for a Friend”

In Addiction by Tree House Recovery

When people find out you’re recovering from addiction, they may have questions. Often, these questions come from a place of concern. People are often surprised to learn that a friend or a relative has a substance use issue and they want to know how you’re doing and how they can help. Other times, these questions come from a place of interest or curiosity. People want to know what the experience was like and whether treatment worked for you. Sometimes, it’s more than just curiosity. Sometimes people are considering treatment for themselves and they want to know more but they may not want to admit as much. If you’ve been in that position, you know how hard it is to admit you have a problem and ask for help. Finding out that you’re in recovery may be an opportunity for someone else to learn more without having to admit they need help. It may be an opportunity for you to help someone get into treatment.

Be honest about your own experience.

People recovering from substance use disorders often have to be selective about sharing. While we’ve come a long way in reducing the stigma associated with addiction, we still have a long way to go. However, if you get the sense that someone might be looking for help, even if he doesn’t come right out and say it, sharing your experience may be a good way to soothe his anxiety about asking for help. It’s important to be honest about your experience. What were your substance use patterns like? What made you finally decide to get help? How did you choose a treatment program? What was the program like? What did you like about it? What did you not like about it? Has it been hard staying sober since you left? Many people feel like they have to put a positive spin on all of these things if they want to convince someone to get help but actually honesty is better. People are less afraid when they know what they’re getting into, even if it’s not 100 percent positive. It also prepares them for the challenges they will probably face.

Be discreet.

If someone is approaching you in an oblique way, it’s a good bet he doesn’t want people to know he’s struggling with substance use or that he’s thinking of getting help. Respect that desire and keep your conversation to yourself. It’s fine to bring it up in your 12-step group if you want some advice on how to help, just don’t mention names. Consider how you would feel if you made the first tentative steps towards reaching out and the person you reached out told everyone. 

Follow up.

If you think someone who is asking about your recovery experience is really asking for help, be sure to follow up in some way. One unobtrusive way to follow up might be to text him a link to your treatment program with a message like, “Here’s that program I was telling you about; it was really a great experience.” No pressure, just FYI. Or, if you think it’s appropriate, you might text something like, “I’m going to an AA meeting tonight; do you want to come check it out?” Use your best judgment and always try to remember how you felt when you were still unsure whether to ask for help.


Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon uses cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction. Taking a holistic, sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently. No one is beyond help- our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474