Saying No - from the Health and Healing Series at SupportNet.ca - Resources for Your Recovery.

Recovery is learning to enjoy life - without the use of alcohol or drugs that alter mind or mood.

It is treatment for the condition of addiction - an approach to the challenges of life - and a path to personal growth.

Recovery requires us to learn - about the true nature of addiction.

It may be personalized - but it has its necessary Principles and its Ways.

The Principles of Recovery provide direction to the choices that we face each day.

The Ways of Recovery provide us with tools - that help us to heal - and to enjoy life on life’s terms.

This Learning Seminar introduces the topic of Saying No to others -

Why it is difficult for some - and how you can learn to say No when it is important to do so.


Addiction leaves us in a weakened and demoralized state.

Saying No to alcohol or drugs - or to those who offer it - is not an easy matter.

The compulsion to use drugs may persist into recovery - and can be easily triggered by people, places, feelings and things.

The tendency to use is best countered by strict boundaries, support and education.

But even as recovery progresses - there are many who find it difficult to say No to others - difficult to assert their own wishes.

Since recovery demands that we learn how to care for our selves - and because it is so easy to be pulled off this path - it can help to understand why it can be hard to say No to others.

I Can’t Say No

For some - the tendency to defer to others is a lifelong habit.

Early use of drugs may even have been a treat - or reward - for agreeing so often to the requests of others.

Many also learn as children - that the best way to keep the peace - is to agree and to avoid conflict.

Just say yes - and keep everybody else happy.

A child’s learned way of survival then grows to an adult habit - a style of their personality.

Others feel out of place with those around them - and strive to fit in with the crowd.

Their early use of alcohol or drugs may have calmed their awkward feelings with others - an effort to fit in with the crowd.

Those in early recovery may act out of guilt or shame.

They may feel unworthy to have their own way - or try to compensate by agreeing too easily.

But tending to others while ignoring our selves leads to resentment, self pity and risk.

Helping Others

For those who struggle with this issue - a common question is - Yes . . . But what about helping others?

The response to this question is that to be helpful to others may be generous. But to be helpful or to agree out of habit - is not a free choice - and is often not helpful to others.

Recovery is not about always doing one thing or another.

It is about choice - about balance and taking the time to consider what is best.

Recovery from any illness requires a priority to personal health and well being.

Recovery from addiction is no different. It requires a focus of attention and energies for a good period of time.

There is no better way to help someone - than to show them what is possible.

Do what you need to do for your recovery - and talk to others from your own experience.

When others see what is possible - they are encouraged to do what they need to do.

Finally, it is not always helpful to do what is asked. To help someone to persist in their addiction is not to be helpful - but to enable them to stay sick.

You will not help your self or anyone else - when you take part in a lie - or otherwise assist with the sickness of another.

Learning to Say No

For those who find it too easy to agree - there are several steps to take in learning to say No.

Prepare Your Self - Ask others how they say No. Imagine your self being asked to do something - and you say No.

Set firm boundaries - and avoid those who will pressure you. Believe that you deserve to assert and to care for your self.

Be Alert - Be mindful of your goal and don’t be caught off guard.

Ask for help with this problem - within your mind and in your prayer. Avoid risky situations and people

Pause for a moment. Take time to reflect when asked to do something.

Ask yourself - Is this a healthy choice for me? Do I really want to do this? How will I cope with the extra effort? Will I really be helping this person? Or will I feel guilty about doing so?

Consider the Options - It’s not always about Yes or No right now. Take time to think about it - and to sort through your feelings.

If you are pressured to make a choice - there may be good reason to say No.

Just Say No - Sometimes you just need to practice saying No - I have enough with my own things right now.

If you are pressured - just repeat the same statement again.

Face the Feelings - If you feel guilt after saying No - take this feeling to your program.

Talk - Journal Write - Go to a meeting - Ask others how they deal with guilt.

Do It All Over Again - and don’t be too harsh on your self. If the habit to agree is not easy to break - take your self through these steps as many times as necessary.

To assert your self by saying No - gets easier in time.

In Summary

To say Yes - when you want to say No - or to give in when you do not wish to do so - is a common challenge for many in addiction and early recovery.

Learning to say No is a necessary skill - in learning to enjoy life true to one’s self.

Do what you need to do for your recovery - and talk to others from your own experience.

The best way to help someone who continues in addiction - is to show them that recovery is possible. To always agree to their request may not be the most helpful way.

You have now reached the end of Saying No.

Look for this and other Learning Series topics at www.SupportNet.ca - Resources for Your Recovery.