After completing addiction treatment or entering a 12-step program, you might realize that your existing social circle or even intimate relationships revolve around substance abuse. Dealing with the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of getting clean can be overwhelming, especially when loved ones or peers continue to use it. Aftercare is important for recovery and can offer support for continued sobriety. This article explains how to determine if a relationship is harmful to recovery.

Friendships Can Be Harmful

How Friendships Can Harm Recovery

Signs That a Relationship Needs to End

You should end a friendship if they encourage you to drink or use drugs, belittle your decision to seek addiction treatment, insist that programs or rehab can’t work (it didn’t work for them, either), or otherwise discourage you. It is common for those who threaten to “leave the tribe” to experience shame or guilt from those who stay behind. Everybody realizes that addiction is a problem, but if they don’t want to deal with their own problems, having a friend choose sobriety can be scary. Those who truly love and care for you will support your sobriety. There are ways to support a friend who is addicted, but your own recovery is important first and foremost.

Friendships Can Be Harmful to Your Recovery

How to Respectfully End a Friendship

Supportive relationships are crucial to recovery, according to research. It is difficult to end lifelong friendships or even romantic relationships. There’s also a difference between relationship needs and wants. You may want to slowly withdraw from a friend group or relationship. If you don’t use it anyway, then you may have little in common, so this is the least painful option. Slowly phasing out may not be an option in intimate relationships. Support from sponsors, therapists, or addiction counselors can help you step away from a spouse, partner, or family member who is negatively impacting you. Communicate honestly and directly with the loved one. Tell them why you need to be away from the relationship, but don’t demand that they enter sobriety as well. Do not blame, use hostility, or shame them; keep to your side of the street. After you have completed either inpatient addiction treatment or outpatient treatment and are stronger in recovery, you may be able to resume the connection. 

Friendships Can Be Harmful from addiction