When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.
I once worked with a client who shared that her greatest fear of sobriety was losing all her friends. She had built a squad of sorts- a team of people who, in her opinion, had her back no matter what. She lived by these principles of fierce loyalty- one that prolonged her decision to quit drugs for years.
When someone decides to embark on the path of sobriety, everything can change. One must reflect and modify the way he thinks, reacts, and behaves in the world. If we are who we surround ourselves with, then we all need to take an honest look at our surroundings.
Are the people in your life helping or hurting your recovery? Like most facets of life, the lines are not always entirely clear.
Healthy Friends Inspire Positive Choices
In a healthy relationship, both parties experience mutual respect towards one another. Friendships that cultivate learning and growth inspire favorable decisions.
Undoubtedly, everyone experiences difficult moments in recovery. Yet, these moments can quickly escalate into life-or-death decisions. A good friend can support your growth- without enabling or cosigning adverse behavior.
A few reflection points to consider:
- How does this friend inspire me to be a better person?
- If I were to stumble backward, would this person ignore me, try to stop me, or join me?
- How is my life better because this person is in it?
Some Friendships Don’t Last Forever
Just like you don’t marry everyone you date, you can’t expect to stay close to every friend you have. In fact, this expectation can set you up for resentment and disappointment, and it can also maintain a vicious cycle of staying with people who no longer serve your best interest.
I like to advise my clients that, even if a friendship strays, it doesn’t mean that it was a failure. I believe we learn from everyone that passes through our lives. At one point, each friend embodies a person we need. From that, we can learn to identify what needs that friend met, and how we choose to fulfill that need now.
Using Friends Can Be Undoubtedly Toxic
Generally, it’s risky to surround yourself with people who do not support your recovery. Some friends will misinterpret or judge your quest to quit using drugs or alcohol. They may resist that you have a problem or pressure you to return to old places or situations where you used.
With that said, even being in the mere presence of old behaviors and using patterns, can be triggering in sobriety. Recovery, as we know, can be delicate- some people feel more excluded if friends stop inviting them out to places, and others don’t mind either way.
When you place recovery first, when you prioritize it in front of everything and everyone, the people in your life will naturally fall into place. After all, friendships are important, and human connection is vital to our well-being. Choosing whether to keep or end an attachment may be challenging, but the stronger you are in your recovery, your boundaries, and your self-esteem, the more fulfilling your relationships will be.