Whether you are being discharged from an extended stay at inpatient services or are receiving ongoing outpatient treatment for addiction recovery, learning how to navigate friendships both old and new can be a crucial lesson for maintaining sobriety in the long-term. Once addiction recovery patients begin to acclimate to transitioning into their more independent, sober lifestyle, sobriety maintenance will make up the majority of their efforts in the recovery process; this sobriety maintenance largely involves beginning to more self-aware of the triggering emotional reactions to life and then taking the necessary preventative measures to avoid those triggers and the resultant potential relapse.
Initially, many addiction recovery patients may assume that avoiding triggers refers to only staying away from familiar, unhealthy habits, places that advocate addictive behavior, and of course the obvious example of not imbibing addictive illicit substances; however, the ongoing personal relationships you develop and/or choose to maintain within your active, sober life can be one of the main sources of potentially triggering emotional responses that can eventually lead to relapse. The social network of people in your life or, more aptly put, the support network consisting of family and friends that you choose to surround yourself with are integral to your recovery process.
Creating a positive support network is an important step to any recovery process for addictive behavioral and mental health disorders. Addiction recovery patients must be active in their selection of the people they choose to include in their daily sober lifestyles; this can lead to some difficult decisions and broken friendships. The prime example without a doubt would be avoiding any friends or family that you previously misused substances with regularly. The familiar behavior patterns combined with the comfort and ease of previous relationships will most certainly trigger nostalgic patterns of addictive behavior eventually leading to a relapse. However, addiction recovery patients should not only consider the most obvious candidate as even individuals with no history of substance misuse could remain toxic to the recovery process. Negativity and a defeatist point of view are big outliers among personality traits that many addiction recovery patients overlook and fail to consider when actively choosing their sober, social support network.
Below we have listed a series of tips on how to navigate old friendships that could potentially trigger a relapse as well as some ways to make new sober relationships that could turn into friendships that prove beneficial to long-term sobriety.
Navigating Old Friendships
Create An Open and Honest Sobriety Dialogue: Creating an open dialogue involves being honest about your newfound sobriety with others and yourself. Addiction recovery patients should constantly be gauging their comfort levels in their surroundings with maintaining sobriety and need to be able to address their needs to their chosen support network of friends and family. You can in no way expect others to change their behaviors, but you can voice your needs and remove yourself from scenarios where individuals will not or cannot respect the boundaries you have made apparent to them. This only works, however, if you continue to have a dialogue with said support network; no one will know you are uncomfortable if you fail to inform them of how you are feeling in your newfound sobriety.
Avoid Compromising Relationships and the Familiar: We briefly touched on this earlier, but mainly this tip would involve avoiding familiar scenarios, locations, or behaviors that may have previously involved substance misuse. This can involve actual individuals that you misused illicit substances with or even just people who were around while you were misusing substances. Peer pressure is a real thing, and the worst kind of peer pressure comes from your own mind’s inclinations toward addictive behaviors that can easily be sparked by the familiarity of nostalgic actions and relationships.
Avoiding the Overtly Negative: Avoiding the familiar in both people and scenarios is probably the most common advice given when choosing a support network, but avoiding overtly negative people can also be key to sobriety maintenance especially early on in recovery. Individuals who purport to an outwardly pessimistic worldview can further advocate negative thinking patterns in addiction recovery patients; this, in turn, can lead to an increase in depressive thoughts that may trigger old “stinking thinking” patterns that will lead to relapse. Surrounding yourself with individuals who maintain a positive outlook on your recovery process will be conducive to your long-term sobriety.
Creating New Sober Friendships
Sober Meetup Groups: Making sober friendships can be difficult, but many meetup groups actively support sobriety. Joining a local meetup for an activity is a good way to meet new friends in your community who are working toward the same goal of sobriety.
Recovery Meetings: Attending meetings and becoming actively involved at a local chapter is a great way to meet like-minded sobriety-focused individuals.
Activity-Based Social Events: Choosing social events that have an activity like biking or kayaking as the main focus can help take some of the pressures of social anxiety off of newly sober individuals. Activity-based social events allow addiction recovery patients to explore new hobbies while also giving them a chance to socialize during a time that can feel rather isolating.
If you or someone you love needs treatment for an addictive disorder with co-occurring mental health issues, then Choice House can help. We offer men dual-diagnosis treatments to help them achieve and learn how to maintain sobriety as they build a new foundation of love and empathy. Our variety of therapeutic modalities are offered through three programs of treatment services that include a 90-day inpatient program, an intensive outpatient service, as well as the opportunity to take up residency at our sober living campus. Located in the Boulder County area of Colorado, our facilities are ideally situated between the bustling city of Louisville and the Rocky Mountain National Park. We take full advantage of having the Rocky Mountains in our backyard utilizing a unique outdoor therapy modality. Our outdoor therapy allows men the chance to reconnect with nature, fellow recovery patients, and themselves through physical activities like hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking. We firmly believe that the bonds of friendships you develop at Choice House will last a lifetime and prove vital to your recovery effort long after you have left our facilities. Our proximity to the city of Louisville also proves beneficial to our outpatient clients allowing them to maintain gainful employment and keep active social lives while still under the guidance and supervision so necessary in early recovery. For more information regarding Choice House facilities and addiction recovery treatment services, please give us a call at (720) 577-4422.