The beginning journey of recovery is a very slippery slope. During this stage, you may encounter many difficult people be it old friends, unsupportive family members or overly cynical members of the recovery community. Difficult people are everywhere and sometimes hard to be around or handle especially when it’s someone we are close to. The Cove believes no one should put your addiction recovery at risk and has created a list of tips on how to deal with a difficult person.

Here’s how to deal with difficult people while in addiction recovery:

1.Remember they may have it worse

When dealing with a difficult person it helps to remember that they may have it worse. Think back to when you were just starting in your recovery. Everything was new and unfamiliar, it wasn’t easy adjusting to the changes going on around you. Be wary that many people could be going through their own rough patch and a bit more patience and understanding can go a long way.

2.Control your emotions

One of the hardest things to do when dealing with a difficult person is controlling your emotions. With their uncompliant behavior and resistant demeanor, it is understandable how you are tempted to let your emotions run wild. However, fueling their negative behavior will do you no good. Those who exhibit negative behavior do so to feed off same negative reaction they stir in others. The saying misery loves company comes to mind here as difficult people are often so because they want to project their negative feelings onto others.

3.Get to the core

Difficult people tend to avoid talking about the important matters and focus more on placing their attention on the negatives or things that are lacking. If you are dealing with a difficult person remember to focus on the task or problem at hand. Don’t be swayed by their snide commentary instead, ask probing questions to find out what the actual problems are and how it can be resolved.

4.Relax and be Calm

Staying relaxed and calm while dealing with a difficult person can be one of the most challenging things to do. Similarly, to keeping control of your emotions during your encounter with someone difficult staying calm is key. Never lose your temper or shout as this is the response they are looking to receive. If you find it hard to relax take the time to step away and regain your cool.

5.Ask for help

If you are constantly dealing with a difficult person don’t forget to reach out for help. Ask others more experienced than you for help on how to properly resolve or handle being around a difficult person.

mindful breathing


Regularly meditating can help when dealing with a difficult person. This skills requires patience and is the perfect coping skill when someone frustrates you. Meditation allows you to easily sort through your emotions allowing you to clear your head and leave toxic thoughts behind.

7.Show Respect

No one likes to be disrespected even the most difficult of people. It is important to be courteous and respectful even to someone who may not return the same favor. Give respect, to take respect is an old age saying that rings true when dealing with someone difficult. The more respectful you are the harder it will be for them to remain difficult as they are being treated respectfully.

8. Act normal

One of the signs a difficult person looks for when they are being difficult is how much under your skin they are getting. Do not show signs of irritation, distress, and anger. Do not give in to what they seek the most. Act as if nothing is wrong and the conversation is going as planned. Giving them the emotional response they want will only fuel them to continue in acting difficult. To people who behave this way acting out of the normal is a sign their behavior or attitude is working.

9.Communicate clearly

While dealing with a difficult person remember to be clear and concise. Give them time to speak and say all that they need to. Hold all questions until they are finished. Be sure to also leave room for them to express their answers.
difficult people in recovery


When all tactics have failed and a difficult person is not being receptive to anything you have said or done your next step is to ignore. Take the stress of constantly dealing with a difficult person by limiting your interactions with them. If this person continues to be harm to you and your recovery do not be afraid to leave them out of your life. No matter the relationship if they are going to cost you your recovery then they are not worth it.

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