The Role Compassion Plays in Addiction Recovery

There’s a lot that goes on when someone enters treatment for addiction. Not only have they made one of the biggest decisions of their lives, but it likely came from a place of hitting rock bottom. Getting to a place where you have realized that you can no longer live life the way you have been and that you need help getting out of it is a hard realization. Looking in the mirror and admitting your misgivings is tough, and so is working through sensitive issues in treatment. One of the most helpful things that can get someone through this time is compassion – and a little bit goes a long way.

A Safe Place

When someone is in treatment for addiction, they are in a very vulnerable place. One of the most important parts of treatment is opening up and getting to the root cause of the addiction. Without feeling like they are in a safe place, people will not open up enough to get to that.

Without being able to reach the root cause, addiction will eventually pop up again and the cycle will repeat itself. Compassion and kindness will go a long way, allowing someone to feel comfortable enough to open up and express themselves. Providing a safe, caring environment like Cliffside Malibu for someone to be vulnerable makes all the difference in addiction recovery.


Compassion also allows for accountability in addiction recovery. When someone feels cared for, they will accept the ‘tough love” that accountability brings. Having someone to check in on them constantly and make sure they are on track can make all the difference in someone’s sobriety. They don’t want to let this person down, and you could be one of the first things they think of if they want to change their mind when nearing a relapse. Instead of picking up a substance, they might choose to give you a call to talk them through it, thanks to all the compassion and kindness you’ve shown them.

Crushing the Stigma

Showing compassion to someone who has suffered from addiction helps crush the stigma surrounding addiction in the first place. The stigma alone can prevent someone from getting help or admitting they have a problem. Many recovering addicts feel as if they are seen as people with low moral standards, like they have something “wrong” with them or like they should be ashamed of themselves. Instead of constantly focusing on what might be “wrong” with them, it is important to focus on what is right with them. Doing your small part, one person at a time, can help eventually crush the stigma surrounding people suffering from addiction.

How You Can Show Compassion

If you come across someone in your life who is suffering from addiction, whether they are a loved one or a complete stranger, there are many ways you can show compassion towards them. This can be in big ways or in small ways, but any little bit helps while in the healing process.

Be supportive

One major way to show compassion toward someone in addiction recovery is to congratulate them on how far they have come. You can celebrate their milestones with them, acknowledge their hard work and let them know how proud of them you are. Being supportive of them can encourage them to stay on the right track, and will bring you closer together.

Offer a safe space

Check in with your loved on and ask questions. Ask them how they are feeling that day, if they have had any struggles lately or if they need anything. If they know they have a safe space to vent their frustrations or hard times without always having to act perfectly content being sober, it can make a big difference in their healing.

Don’t shame them

If you see someone out in public who is obviously suffering from mental health and/or addiction issues, don’t shame them by pointing and laughing or acting disgusted. Offer them compassion, offer them help or do what you can to prevent people around you from saying negative comments about them. This little bit of compassions can help stop the stigma surrounding addiction, and may be the difference in that person asking for help.

About Cliffside Malibu

We understand the importance of compassion, and we have made it a pillar in our program. We make sure each client feels compassion from the moment we pick up the phone, until long after they finish treatment. Treatment for addiction is one of the scariest, vulnerable places a person can be in their life. Upon finishing treatment, people may feel pressure to act like they are happy being sober, while in reality they may have tough days. Offering compassion to people in recovery can help make the healing process more comfortable and like they are not all alone.

Each patient is then matched with one of these five stages of the Transtheoretical Model: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance. An individualized treatment plan is created based on their current stage of change. This process is in place to ensure that all our patients receive the best treatment path possible for their own specific need. Our goal is to move individuals through their treatment by assessing their readiness for change and formulating stage-matched interventions in order to move them through their respective stage.

It is the policy of Cliffside Malibu to ensure that all individuals who present with chemical dependency issues are assessed for the appropriate level of care. We strive to provide continuum of care including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment and outpatient services. Services are provided to individuals with a primary diagnosis of substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction. Individuals seeking treatment are assessed by qualified staff to ensure program criteria are met and that each individual admitted is placed in the appropriate level of care for treatment. The program is designed and structured for individuals who are in need of a supportive environment in order to maintain Sobriety.

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