What Should I Say in a Letter to a Friend Who Is in Rehab Recovering From Drugs?

Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are supportive groups for friends of addicts.
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Witnessing someone you care about fight an addiction can be frustrating and heart-wrenching. Rehab is an integral part of this battle. Although you are likely to feel powerless in this situation, you have the ability to help simply by offering support. If your friend is in rehab, there will likely be limited contact for a given amount of time. Letters and possibly emails may be the most accessible tools for extending support to your friend. Supporting someone through recovery is a very delicate matter that requires patience and healthy boundaries.

1 Send Well Wishes

Rehab is a lot of work. Your friend may be working through a great deal of physical and emotional pain. Also, the facility probably requires that your friend abide by very strict rules and guidelines. Adjusting to such structure and routine can be quite challenging. Your friend can use your support. Tell him that you are thinking about him, that you care and that you hope he is doing well. Acknowledge all the hard work he is doing and let him know how proud you are.

2 Think Ahead

There may be a lot of hurtful things your friend has done throughout her addiction. Think carefully about the best time to approach these issues. Instead of revisiting these experiences via mail, you may want to wait for a later time to initiate a resolution. Let your friend know that you look forward to discussing your relationship in the future. In the meantime, your friend will probably be working on plans to make amends to everyone she's hurt.

3 Share Information Delicately

You may want to let your friend know how you're doing, and to keep him abreast of events at school or work or within your social circles. It is important to be tactful with this sharing of information. Refrain from gushing about all the great parties he's missing, or disclosing that his girlfriend cheated, for instance. These things may distract him from his recovery. They are also matters with which he will be capable of dealing another time.

4 Care for Yourself

You may find yourself thinking and worrying about your friend a great deal. While this is normal, consuming and pervasive anxiety is a cause for concern. Remember that your friend must bear her own burden, and that you are responsible for taking care of yourself. Make sure your are getting adequate rest, nutrition and exercise. Do things you enjoy and spend time with your other friends and family. Talking to others and writing in a journal about your feeling can help ease some of your concerns as well.

Jill Avery-Stoss is a graduate of Penn State University and a writer and editor based in northeast Pennsylvania. Having spent more than a decade working with victims of sexual and domestic violence, she specializes in writing about women's issues, with emphasis on families and relationships.