Did you recently commit to quitting drugs or alcohol and getting yourself sober?

You should know that you have a long road to recovery ahead of you. Studies have shown that anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of people who attempt to kick a drug or drinking habit relapse at some point.

One reason why some recovering addicts relapse is because they continue to hang around with old friends who don’t have their best interests at heart. They end up drinking with friends or using drugs with them simply because they spend a lot of time around them.

If you’re worried about this becoming a problem for you, there are steps you can take to create boundaries between you and your friends. You can also set out to make new friends during recovery to avoid relapsing.

Here are some tips for navigating the rocky road that awaits you.

Let Old Friends Know You’re Done With Drugs or Alcohol

When you decide that you’re going to make some changes and stop drinking with friends or doing drugs with them, let them know about it. Explain why you’re making the decision to do it and tell them how you plan to get help.

They might scoff at your decision and try to convince you not to quit. But they might also push you in the right direction and reassure you that you’re making the right call.

Either way, it’ll give your old friends some indication of why you’re not returning their calls or coming around to see them for a little while. It might even encourage them to think about whether or not they need help for a drug or drinking problem.

Cut Them Off If They Don’t Support Your Decision

There is a chance that your old friends might not be all that supportive of what you’re planning to do. That might not make you feel good, but it also shouldn’t stop you from getting the help you need.

If your friends refuse to support your decision to stop drinking or using drugs for any reason, cut them off for the time being. They’re going to add stress to your life at a time when you need it the least if you stay in touch with them.

Make your way to a rehab facility to get treatment and don’t look back. If your friends are really your friends, they’ll understand why you made the decision that you did one day.

Set Up a Strong Support System for Yourself

You can overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol without a support system in place. But it’s going to be difficult to do it.

Therefore, you should create a strong support system for yourself from the time you decide to check yourself into rehab. Your support system can include:

  • Your parents
  • Your friends who don’t abuse drugs and/or alcohol
  • The doctors, nurses, and counselors you meet in rehab
  • People you meet in group counseling sessions
  • Any other important people in your life

You need people who will be on your side through thick and thin. Think about who will stay by you while you work to get your life back together.

Meet New Friends

Studies have shown that most people make friends up until the time that they turn 25. At that point, they often start to lose friends after getting married, starting a family, and making other big life changes.

You’re going to be making a big life change yourself. But in your case, it’s a good idea to try to make new friends to replace some of your old ones, regardless of what age you might be.

You’re going to be hanging around in new places with new people once you’re sober. Take advantage of that by befriending some of the people you come across.

Find New Hobbies to Occupy Your Time

Outside of making new friends, you should also attempt to fill all the free time you’ll have once you stop using drugs or drinking with new hobbies. Try things you’ve never done before until you land on something you love.

Some newly sober people will sign up for the gym and spend a lot of their free time working out. Others will read books, participate in recreational sports, or even volunteer their time to help others.

Whatever you choose to do, it’s great to fill your time with something. It’ll reduce the urges you have to use drugs or drink out of boredom.

Avoid Trying to Force Old Friends to Change

Unless you pick up and move to a new state once you become sober, you’re going to cross paths with some of your old friends from time to time. You’ll see them around town, and you might even stop and say hello.

You might also be tempted to try and get them to change like you have. You may try to sell them on getting help or even offer to assist them in checking into a rehab facility.

If they specifically ask for your help, that’s one thing. But otherwise, you should steer clear of trying to force them to change because you did. You should also rebuke their invitations if they ask you to have a drink with them or go back to using drugs.

At this stage in your life, it’s just not going to be possible to reunite with old friends without putting yourself into harm’s way. You’re better off sticking with your new friends since you know they won’t put you into a position where you might use drugs or drink again.

Keep Reminding Yourself Why Drinking With Friends Is a Bad Idea

If you spent a lot of time drinking with friends and using drugs with them over the years, you made tons of memories with them. Most of those memories are probably bad memories, but there are no doubt some good ones in the mix, too.

Those memories might make you miss your old friends every now and then. But you shouldn’t allow memories to dictate who you hang out with today. Remind yourself of the bad memories to keep yourself on the road to recovery and prevent a relapse from taking place.

Contact us today if you need any help at all with addiction recovery.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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