The Importance of Listening for Recovering Addicts and Their Loved Ones

Mark Twain said that if people were meant to talk more than they listen, they would have two tongues and one ear. It makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? For recovering addicts and the families who support them, listening is a skill that should become a top priority. Even though listening is a general life skill everyone can benefit from, helping a loved one recover from addiction requires it more than most.

If you place an addict and a supportive family member in a room, you might as well place a wall between them. Regardless of how much they love each other, there won’t be any constructive communication.


Because they’re probably passively hearing rather than actively listening. The importance of effective listening skills cannot be stressed enough in this scenario, and it shouldn’t be confused with hearing. The latter is when the ears pick up a sound. The former is when a person actually registers the sound and allows it to influence them in some way or another.

Why a Recovering Addict Should Listen

The road to recovery is paved with listening skills. If you’re struggling with addiction, you may need some help becoming a better listener. You may even find yourself frustrated as you try to wrap your head around the concept of listening rather than simply hearing. Like any other skill, listening requires practice to be effective.

During the recovery process, there’s a lot of talking involved. This is generally with a therapist, medical doctor and a counselor at varying stages. Each of these experts will encourage you to talk as much as possible to peel back the layers underlying your addiction and help you work past problem areas.

At the same time, you’ll be developing your listening skills as a means to gain some perspective from these professionals. Listening helps keep your mind open to the change you seek in recovery.

A life of sobriety is also one of awareness — awareness of yourself, your surroundings and the people you love most. Listening helps sharpen your awareness and cultivate the deep joy you and your loved ones deserve.

Why a Recovering Addict’s Family Should Listen

If you’re the family member of a recovering addict, you may also have some bias concerning listening. Being closed to listening often puts your hurts of frustrations at the forefront of your interactions rather than the deep love you have for your struggling family member.

To your loved one, you can appear judgmental and insensitive rather than compassionate and caring. This can put up a wall between you and your addicted family member. You may be thinking, “I’m not doing anything wrong, so why should I be listening?” This attitude can greatly hinder your loved one’s chances of recovery.

Listening for Everyone Involved

Communication is a two-way street and there are many ways this skill can be developed. For example, if you’re in recovery, learn to listen without any predispositions. In other words, don’t judge what somebody says before they even say it. Instead listen with an open heart and mind.

If you’re the family member of a recovering addict, you should do the same. If your loved has taken the time to subdue their fears and enter rehab, they deserve all the compassion and empathy you can offer. This will help you both look toward the peace of sobriety ahead of you rather than the bitter pain of addiction behind you.

Call 12 Keys Rehab for Help Today

There’s no time like the present to break the habit of not listening. If this skill doesn’t become part of the recovery foundation, there’s sure to be a rocky road ahead. Take the first step to making the path to recovery much smoother for you and those you love. Contact the caring experts at 12 Keys today!

The Addiction Blog