Friendship and Sobriety
“Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life, said, “I’m here for you” and proved it.”
“Anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.” -Misty Copeland
One of the most difficult parts of recovery is feeling you could be losing your friends and connections. For a lot of people, they have an automatic network and connection of friends built around using drugs and alcohol. In fact, sadly, for many individuals who suffer from addiction, their greatest connections and friendships are built around the substance they are abusing. For example, you may have a group of friends you hang out with that you always go drinking with, or drink excessively. It may not seem like a big deal or a problem to you, maybe it just seems like friends that meet up on Fridays after work or to blow off steam. Maybe it just seems like ‘this is what we do,’ but the problem can arise when you reflect and realize without the presence of alcohol, you might not even want to spend time with these people or even be comfortable around them. The alcohol may be the ‘glue’ that keeps your friends together and the main thing you all have in common.
Or conversely, it could be that you and your friends all get high together and ‘that’s just what you do.’ Like alcohol, it’s what you all have in common. It’s easy, you don’t have to worry or try too much or feel afraid of being rejected. You just have to show up and you have friends you can count on with an activity you can all participate in. It’s like an instant tribe, or community. It’s an activity that other people outside of the ‘group’ aren’t participating in and it can seem like there is a kind of specialness because you’re all linked together through using drugs or alcohol.
However, the problem with it, is that in many ways it’s not real. It’s an illusion that these other people are real friends. Or, if you’ve never really experienced having people you can count on in your life or real friends, you may not know the difference. If you’ve grown up with family or in a living situation where there was also a lot of drug or alcohol use, this can also seem normal and very familiar to have friends or connections through using substances. The idea that it is safe to be around people and just be yourself and sober may be foreign and even cause anxiety.
One of the great things about recovery and sobriety is that you have an opportunity to make new friends and create new types of connections. These connections can be authentic, genuine and real. They don’t need to be based around getting high and checking out. It can be scary and strange at first, but you may find amazing people who will support you during the process of recovery and maintaining sobriety. The friends and connections you make with others during recovery, can open your world up to different kinds of people and to a mindset of building yourself up and accountability. Also, when life gets difficult or challenging, having good friends who are also on the journey to recovery can provide the support you need for when something is challenging or rough. Instead of going back to old support networks and negative influences for your sobriety, you can reach out to new kinds of support and to people who will help keep you on a solid path and foundation.
Some potentially helpful ways to navigate who will be supportive and helpful friends versus harmful friends for your recovery could be:
- Remembering if a “friend” is not supportive of your recovery, they are probably more concerned about themselves than about you
- “Friends” that support your addiction and risky behaviors don’t want you to change or progress. They are wanting things to stay the same and for you to likely go back to harmful old patterns and behaviors.
- Remembering that no matter what has happened or what you’ve done in your life, you deserve and are worthy of positive, kind, uplifting friends that support your recovery and sobriety.
- It may be helpful to review people in your life that maybe you weren’t close to before when you were using, but are here for you now and genuinely care about you. Finding those people that truly care about your well-being and improving the connections and support will likely only help with your recovery.
- If someone seems to discourage or slow you down in your recovery, even if they seem nice and caring, they may not be as helpful in your recovery as you might think.
- If you feel you are responsible for helping a “friend” to stay sober or to help manage their emotions so they don’t relapse, you may be in a codependent relationship that can be harmful and add stress to your recovery.
- Find healthy activities or groups that support your recovery such as groups with sports or activities you may enjoy that require sobriety. For example, playing soccer, frisbee, kayaking, running, etc. Find groups of people where you can meet others and feel supported and maybe the emphasis can be on something uplifting and productive that doesn’t have a lot to do directly with sobriety.
- Connect as much as you need with 12-step groups that can help support you and engage you in recovery. Take opportunities to be involved in the groups or even make friendships with new people that are also on a recovery journey and are as committed to sobriety as you are.
In addition to considerations about recovery and friendship, if you are in an abusive relationship and don’t have the support you need, there are resources that can help. Each year about 10 million people become victims of domestic violence. And unfortunately, COVID has made abuse situations even worse. Below is a link for information on support in an abusive situation. Please feel free to contact us for any additional information.
An important part of recovery is close, supportive friendships, connections and a safe, secure home environment. If you are unable to find these, then it is helpful to know where to look and where to start. Silver Lining understands that you have spent a lot of time dealing with difficult emotions and triggers during your time using drugs and alcohol. These experiences impact your sobriety and a treatment plan for living your best life in recovery. Our policy of treating small numbers of people in each group allows us to get to know you and the exact type of help you need to learn to be kind to yourself and achieve your goals. We help you flourish now and in the future. Let our Huntington Beach location be where you begin again! Call us today for more information. (866) 448-4563.