If you have been addicted to a substance such as drugs or alcohol for some time, it is highly likely that your social circle involves others who are addicted to the same substances. You may have a group of drinking friends who use the same drugs as you, and you may spend a significant amount of your time with them. However, if you have decided that you want to get better and kick your habit, you may be worried about your future relationship with these individuals – especially if loved ones are telling you that you will have to break all ties with them.
If the only reason that you are friends with these people in the first place is your common interest in a particular substance, then it is highly likely that the nature of that relationship will change. You might be scared about this, and you may find that many of your ‘friends’ will try to discourage you from getting help. Below we have listed a few tips on how to handle this situation.
Once you are back in the real world after a period of rehabilitation, you will no doubt be faced with daily temptations. The hardest part will probably be spending time with the people you used to drink or take drugs with. If you begin hanging out with these individuals again, your sobriety will be put at risk. You will have a much higher likelihood of relapse if you go back to the old routine, so it is advisable to limit your contact.
Your former friends may be threatened by the fact that you are now in recovery. They may be jealous that you have so far succeeded where they failed, or they may simply want to have you back drinking or using with them. These people may try to ruin your recovery chances by encouraging you to drink or take drugs. They may even take things a step further by tricking you into using again. You need to be aware that these dangers exist and take measures to protect yourself. If you feel as though you are being pressured into using again, it is time to distance yourself from these persons.
You do not have to cut your old friends out of your life completely but, if you want to be sober long-term, you will certainly have to spend far less time with them. Nevertheless, you do need to have others to rely on, so establishing new friends is a good idea. You may be able to make friends with other recovering addicts through a group meeting, or you can start a new hobby, which may open the door for a whole new network of friends with a similar interest to yours.
Many addicts will find that they think back on days past with a misplaced fondness. They may find themselves focussing on the good times while conveniently forgetting the bad. This is dangerous because it can make the recovering addict believe that the past was full of good times and can cause the person to romanticise this period of using. If you find that old friends are reminiscing about times when you were addicted, you can try to change the subject or choose not to get involved in the conversation. This is the best way to avoid relapse.
Make it clear from the offset to friends that you intend to stay sober. That way they are less likely to try to tempt you with ‘just one drink’ or ‘just one hit’. If they think you would be open to using again, they are more likely to tempt you, so make sure they are clear about what your intentions are from the very beginning.