Toxic People in Rehab – Who to Avoid, and Why You Should


Toxic people in rehab are a very real problem. If you were thinking that your stay in treatment was going to be full of people spouting sunshine and buttercups, think again, because, just as anywhere else, you’re going to encounter these people that are more interested in derailing your personal recovery progress than making a difference in their own recovery journey.

So, what should you do? Who should you be on the lookout for, and is there anything you can really do to avoid these toxic and frustrating individuals?

Understanding Toxic People in General

Here’s the thing – lots of us actually wind up battling addictions because we constantly let ourselves get bogged down by toxic people in our lives. They talk crap, make us feel bad and useless and make us wonder about our very existence. For some of us, the draw is just too real and too serious, and this constant emotional trauma can lead us to behaviors that encourage an addiction to form.

You probably don’t know why you’re so attached to this type of person, or even that they are toxic, so let’s start by helping you understand how to spot a toxic person in any aspect of life.

  • Toxic people tend to be manipulators. You know the person who’s always leaving you wondering why you gave them money yet again? Or what about the person who’s always got you doing things you swore you would never do for them again? Classic manipulator. It’s not good for your soul, but it happens – a lot.
  • They always seem to avoid owning how they feel. Here’s an example: you’re spending time with your sister when she makes it a point to tell you how she can tell you’re mad at her. You weren’t feeling mad at all, but all the sudden, you’re feeling defensive and angry at her for assuming she knows how you feel. In fact, she might be the one who’s angry at you, but simply will not own up to it.
  • Hot one day, cold the next. Toxic people tend to be constantly doing an emotional flip. One day they are great and fun and you’re happy to be hanging out, and the next day they are angry with you and feeling like you’d rather escape than spend another minute around them.
  • They never say they are sorry. You know in an argument, apologizing is always a way to smooth things over and get the relationship back on track, but toxic people don’t ever say they’re sorry. You, on the other hand, find yourself doing it all the time.
  • You’re always forced to prove yourself to them. And you wind up doing it with a smile. Like who cares more, or who wants to be the best friend more? It’s either them or somebody else, and if you don’t care enough, that’s okay because so-and-so does. So, you’re always left feeling like you’re competing for this toxic person’s attention.
  • You’re always sharing in their joy, but they always make yours less important than it is. This is where the term “Debbie Downer” comes into play, and for good reason. These are the people who always find a way to make your joy a little less joyous than it could be, and it’s often very hurtful. They find a way to make you feel like the good things in your life are only mediocre or cold be better.

Over time, all this negativity can break you down and cause you to seriously doubt any and all self-worth you ever thought you had. Not only that but when you’re struggling with a parent or family member that is toxic, it can become incredibly hard to deal with them and keep your cool.

Let’s Not Forget the Way they Talk to You

So, you know you’re going to meet toxic people in rehab, and chances are, some of the above-listed signs will help, but there are other things to consider. Like the way they talk to you. They often belittle you or make you feel small. It’s very common for toxic people to be condescending, or act like they know more than you do, even when you are clearly the one in the know.

It’s pretty common for people like this to say nice things in a rude tone, so you can’t tell if you’ve just been praised or talked down. You’ll also probably find that this type of people are horrible about calling you on the carpet for the way you treat them and how you talk to them.

On the same note, a toxic person is going to be very judgmental of the things you say, do, think, and even wear. In short, it’s because nobody is as good as them. At all. Beware, because if you are, they will lie to look better.

Spotting Toxic People in Rehab

Now that you know what to expect from toxic people in rehab, is this what you’re going to be facing? Is there something different that you should be looking for? There are all kinds of people in treatment that are going to be a challenge to deal with, but that doesn’t mean that they are exactly toxic. You’re in rehab, after all. Everyone will seem slightly flawed. However, there are some types of toxic people in rehab that you should keep your eyes out for because they can really derail your progress.

  • The resident counselor. No, not the certified one that you go to see for real help, this is the person who’s maybe 15 days further in his treatment than you. He talks a good game, and the rest is just bull, but his insight into your situation might leave you wondering if he’s right. Not only that, but it could lead you to wonder why your therapist hasn’t had the same insight. Save yourself the hassle and heartache of sharing your story with this guy.
  • The rebel. Oh, how fun to rebel against the rules, and there’s always someone in treatment that is willing to help you do a bit of rule breaking. This person can not only get you in trouble but breaking the rules is probably why you became addicted in the first place. Avoid them like the plague. They might seem “nice,” but they won’t hesitate to let you take the fall if something goes wrong.
  • The one who complains all the time. Seriously, when you wake up in the morning, you hear complaints

    about the sunny day and how it’s just too bright. When you go to therapy, you hear about how all the therapists in the place don’t know how to do their jobs, and when you turn around, you’re likely to hear that the space you’re turning in is just too tight.

It’s also important to avoid those that you’re attracted to – you know – on a physical level. This can spell disaster in even the strongest recovery journey because your emotions are all over the place. So, when there is new love, the good can feel that much better, and the bad is just too much for an already aching heart to handle.

How to Handle Toxic People in Rehab

So, now that you know that there are toxic people in rehab, what do you do about handling them? You don’t want to feel like you’re running a race or being lectured by someone who isn’t much better than you are, and you want to enjoy a happy, healthy recovery journey. So, you need to know what to do about them.

You’re going to want to protect yourself from toxic people, so start by ignoring those who seem to be doing just about anything for attention. This means that the toxic person in question won’t bother you because they know you just don’t pay attention to them. You can also avoid talking to people you don’t completely trust about your problems. Instead, talk to your therapist – that’s what he’s there for –  and leave small talk for gossipers.

Avoid drama, and just let the liars trip themselves up. It always happens, and even when you don’t call them on it, it’s usually pretty obvious. So, let it happen, and avoid those little spats like the plague, because it will get you nowhere in your recovery journey.

Also, when you’re in rehab, remember that you’re there to get clean and sober. You’re starting your life over and getting better, so ignore the insults that people throw at you, and try not to get your feelings hurt. Find a few friends that you can trust, but still, guard your heart for a while. Your group will begin to show itself over time.

If you’re ready to take the step of getting into rehab, get in touch with us. We’ll help you find a treatment facility that you can really feel great about attending, and that will help you to ease some worry about the toxic people you might encounter. Life is short, addiction is long. Why not change your whole world and take a chance? Negative Nellies or no, rehab can give you the beautiful world you’re dreaming of having.