For most people, choosing to get sober means leaving behind an old way of life, substance abusing friends included. While ending friendships is a part of the recovery process for many addicts, sobriety isn’t a journey that must be faced alone. Here’s how you can part ways with toxic people and find new friendship in recovery.
Ending Toxic Friendships
If your friendships have drifted apart since getting sober, you’re not alone. It’s normal for addicts in recovery to realize they don’t have all that much in common with their old friends. While some relationships that revolved around drinking or using start to fade away, others must be left behind for the addict’s own good. After all, not everyone will be supportive of your sobriety. Some friends might outright tempt you with substances, while others indirectly enable your substance abuse.
Addicts must learn to identify not only the behaviors that are directly harmful, but also those that subtly threaten their recovery. People who deny or minimize your problem, discourage treatment, demean your recovery efforts, or otherwise surround you with negativity can be just as detrimental to your sobriety as people who overtly try to sabotage your recovery.
However, ending friendships is difficult, even when they’re toxic. Don’t feel like you need to justify ending a friendship; your sobriety is what’s important, and you should do what’s necessary to protect it. Besides, it’s a waste of energy to justify, argue, defend, or explain yourself to someone who’s toxic. You can state you don’t want to continue a friendship and leave it at that. If someone fails to accept your decision, blocking their phone number and social media accounts protects you from bullying.
Meeting New People
Often, we cling onto friendships that we know are unhealthy because we’re afraid of having no friends at all. While making new friends in recovery can be hard, it’s far from impossible. In fact, meeting people is an important part of the recovery process. Healthy Place identifies loneliness as a major trigger for substance abuse. Being alone give addicts ample time to ruminate and obsess over cravings, and it deprives them of the support they need to stay sober. With friends, you can keep occupied when your brain is working against you and find support when your willpower runs low.
Not every friend you make in addiction recovery needs to be a sober friend. While it’s important to have peer friends who understand what you’re going through, there’s no need to cut out supportive people just because they drink. However, friends should encourage your sobriety and not have a problem abstaining around you.
One struggle recovering addicts tend to face is not knowing where to meet people. After you stop frequenting old haunts, it’s hard to identify places that won’t threaten your sobriety. For many addicts, this requires changing the way they think about a social life. Before, outings were at bars and parties. Today, they could be at a fitness class, a film club, a music festival, or a dancing lesson. Try using websites like Meetup to find people who share your interests. If you’re not ready to hit the town, invite new friends to your house for an alcohol-free evening of food and games.
It requires strength and determination to overhaul your social life in the midst of addiction recovery, but doing so is an important step in your commitment to stay sober. With only supportive people surrounding you, you can stay firm in your resolve to create a better life.
Image via Unsplash
Blog by guest contributor, Jackie Cortez of ThePreventionCoalition.org posted for Healthvista 10-15-17