An essential part of recovery consists of rethinking our relationship with friends. It is an integral part of healing and should not be overlooked. Before entering treatment, your behavior reflected the choices you made as an addict. The friends with whom you had things in common may still be engaging in addictive behaviors. They may still try to talk you into returning to old ways, claiming the group is not the same without you.
Now, as you move beyond the phases of intensive treatment and rehabilitation, you set goals for your sobriety and wellness and should consider the people you wish to share space with.
In order to create an environment that supports and nurtures long-term wellness and change, rethinking your social contacts is necessary. You may discover that some of the friends you hung out with before may stop calling you as they struggle to imagine how their lifestyle fits in with yours.
It’s Okay to Be Alone
Hanging out with yourself is not a bad idea. It is far better to be alone than tempted into behavior that you will regret later. Spending time alone gives us time to think and cultivate new boundaries for ourselves. In other words, what we will accept in our lives.
It is tough to enter this space mentally if we are continually around others. After spending some time alone, we may have enough clarity to consider the type of people we want to hang around with and those we do not. Again, this is not about judging anybody; it is about understanding what is best in our life and needing to cultivate that.
I’ll Take That
Frequently in life, we take or accept what is in front of us without really thinking whether it is right for us. For example, we might settle for an intimate relationship rather than be alone. We might hang out with a group of friends because they seem to be the most popular. We may be flattered that we are asked to join them without ever thinking if the friendship is good for us.
When we rebuild our lives around new experiences and friendships, it is okay to discern with whom we want to associate. Not all friends will be the same. Some friends are great to hang out with for a laugh, while others are great for grabbing a coffee and a chat.
Sorry, I Can’t Do That.
As you identify what is no longer acceptable and why, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- No-Go Areas. Some places are best kept off-limits. If you have a friend who is not in recovery, let that friend understand that a bar, a nightclub, or a fun Friday evening of wine tasting is off limits to you.
This is where you learn who your real friends are. A good group of friends will understand and not pressure you with phrases such as, “it won’t be the same without you,” “you don’t have to drink, you can just stand by and have fun,” or “you can be the designated driver!”
You are not responsible for everybody’s fun. Let your friends know it is okay if they go without you, and that you are not offended. Tell your friends about what places are off-limits. Bars, nightclubs, and wine tastings are obvious, but there may be other places you aren’t comfortable with yet, such as sports games and restaurants.
- Alcohol-Free Space. A friend who supports your recovery should not drink or become intoxicated in front of you. Help them understand this type of activity is not right for you. Sometimes friends are not fully aware that drinking in front of an addict can be a trigger.
- Sobriety First. A true friend who supports you and wants to be in your space understands that being substance-free and sober is your biggest priority. This means understanding you can’t hang out when you should be at counseling. It also means activities should be done around your support groups. Friends who value your success will work with you so that you are not left out.
Where Are My Friends?
One of the great benefits of continuing group support even after leaving rehabilitation is the opportunity to create new friendships in your sober community. Attending sober events hosted by local community centers, churches, and even the local library can provide great opportunities to continue giving or receiving support to others.
Another advantage of engaging in this type of social group is exploring other hobbies and interests. Groups may enjoy a hiking trip or a city sightseeing tour to include museums and other places of cultural interest.
Taking time to cultivate new friendships will help support your recovery. Just as we choose the best food to go into our bodies, we need to choose the best people to bring into our lives.
Cultivating quality relationships includes friendships and intimate partners. During the early stages of recovery, taking time to think about the types of people we want in our lives, including the places we are no longer able or willing to go, is essential. During recovery, friends can change; after all, we are changing too! Attending group support is a great way to welcome new friendships and activity opportunities in our life. There is no need to feel isolated and alone. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains’ inspiring landscape, the Detox Center of Colorado offers a solution-based transitional residence program aimed at accountability and recovery. No matter how far you’ve traveled on your journey to substance abuse or mental health recovery, we look forward to helping you explore the range of supportive treatment and aftercare options available to you. Call the Detox Center of Colorado at (303) 952-5035. It may be the best thing you do for yourself today.