What Not to Say to an Opiate Addict

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According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are approximately 4.3 million people have tried opiates at some point in their life. Whether it is prescription painkillers or drugs like heroin, a large number of people wind up addicted to opiates at some point. When you find out someone is an addict or a recovering addict you might not know what to say. In many cases, it is more important to know what not to say.

Once an Addict Always an Addict

This has to be one of the most commonly said phrases. Unfortunately, it is not true. Many people recover from opiate addiction without ever returning to opiates or opioids. Sometimes the addiction is simply a matter of circumstance while other times it is more serious. This phrase is more of a societal misconception.

You Just Need to Get it Together


Overcoming an addiction takes much more than willpower alone.

Addiction has nothing to do with getting your life together. Although some people become addicted because of stress, their addiction is not necessarily, because their life was not or is not together. Many people start using drugs in perfectly benign ways.

A person in recovery is getting their lives together. This is something they are working on it and really do not need this type of encouragement.

Can’t You Just Stop

The definition of addiction is that you cannot just stop using. Whether it is because of withdrawal or some other reason, just stopping using opiates is just not an option. Sometimes just stopping is dangerous and if they take the opiate for chronic pain or another medical condition, just stopping is never a good idea.

I used to do Drugs and I Didn’t Get Addicted

Comparing yourself to another drug user is definitely not the way to go. Every situation is different and every person is different. Most people understand that someone can use drugs without becoming an addict and some cannot. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, not everyone who uses drugs becomes an addict.

Come Clean, What is the Worst Thing you did on Drugs

This is a very personal question. Drugs make people do horrible things. If a person wants to talk about their drug use allow them to but it really is not polite to question them on what they did or did not do. Just the phrasing of this question is considered offensive.

You Don’t Look Like an Addict

You would be absolutely amazed at how many people, you deal with every day who do not look like addicts. This particular statement is judgmental and just rude. The typical drug addict as portrayed by the media is not the typical drug addict. There is no typical drug addict.

It’s all About Willpower

For some it is a willpower issue, for others it is not. Addiction is an illness. An addict cannot always stop an addiction through willpower anymore than a diabetic can stop the diabetes.

Did you Do <Insert Drug Here>

If a recovering drug addict wants to talk about drugs, let them. If they do not, do not pry. Some drug users only ever use one drug, while others might use more. That is normally between the drug addict and their counselor.

It is alright to be curious about the drug addict, particularly if they are open about their drug use. It is not alright to be rude. For more information about how to talk to an opiate addict or if you need help yourself call us at 800-442-6158 Who Answers? .

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