Friends in Recovery: Out with the Old in with the New
We’ve all heard Albert Einstein’s quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Addiction is just that, a cycle of decisions that lead to the same results. This is not to say that those addicted to a substance are insane, but those who return to old habits once they have completed treatment just might be. Treatment isn’t a magic pill for addiction. Treatment is about developing a new lifestyle that rids the self of addictive tendencies, habits, and behaviors. For many people, old habits in the form of old friends die-hard. Friends can be a huge trigger after treatment concludes in promoting addictive behaviors, especially the friends who haven’t changed in their desire to use drugs or alcohol. For this reason, it is important for those in treatment to understand that in order to have the best chance for success in recovery, certain friends are going to have to be let go. Fortunately, making friends in recovery is a great way to rebuild a friend base and receive helpful recovery support.
How Can I Tell if I Need to Let a Friend Go?
Breaking emotional attachment to friends can be very challenging, but it is a necessary part of recovery. Additionally, it can be hard to tell which friends are good for you or not. To determine whether or not your friends should be let go or not, ask yourself:
-Does this friend support my recovery?
-Does this friendship support the goals that I want for my life?
-Does this friend allow me to make sobriety the number one priority in my life?’
-Does this friend trigger me to want to use drugs or alcohol?
People change; relationships change. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be rude or aggressive to your former friends. This only means that you are at a different stage of life than them. There are no rules to having to keep friends forever. Simply let these individuals know that you cannot put your recovery (or life) in jeopardy by remaining friends with people who do not support your recovery to the fullest or encourage you to relapse.
Benefits of Making Friends in Recovery from Addiction
Support is imperative for those in recovery. Firstly, loneliness can be a trigger to relapse. It is best to try to prevent relapse as much as possible since overdose death rates are highest for those that relapse in early recovery. Secondly, having support from those that have experience in recovery can be extremely helpful for individuals in early recovery. Hearing success stories puts it into perspective that successful recovery is possible. Lastly, friends in recovery will allow for a listening ear during stressful moments and an honest response to needed advice.
Tips to Making Friends in Recovery
Be Honest: Above all, always tell the truth. This will give your relationships a foundation that is trustworthy. Friends should be able to trust each other so that they can share emotions and open up about trying times so that they can be a helpful force in the healing that recovery brings.
Step out of your Comfort Zone: You used to make friends because they had the same interests as you. Now that your interests do not involve using drugs or alcohol, you need friends with other interests. Find what you are passionate about by attending events and opportunities that you would not have otherwise. This can also be a great way to meet like-minded people!
Volunteer: A number of individuals in recovery that follow the 12 steps understand the value of community service. If this is important to you, volunteer to meet people with similar interests as your own while simultaneously helping those that need aid.
Ease up on Expectations: Many people in early recovery expect to make friends right away. Don’t rush it, and don’t expect too much of people too soon. Remember that recovery can be a vulnerable time, not just for you, but for anyone that decides to work on their sobriety. You want others to like you for who you really are, so don’t expect others to be anything other than who they are as well.