One of the most important yet easy-to-overlook areas of recovery concerns the role that friends play in our lives. Forming and maintaining healthy relationships requires mindfulness, acceptance, honesty and courage. Friends that challenge you help you stay healthy.
When a person is going through addiction treatment, much of the focus is on internal growth. We focus on emotional, mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing. While these are obviously important, we need to focus on external growth as well.
The Importance of Developing Healthy Relationships in Recovery
Friends who have “been there before” can help you step into growth. Other friends are behind you to prevent you from stepping backwards. And your best friends are always there when you need them.
It’s normal to leave an addiction rehab facility with a new set of friends. We bond with people who share mutual journeys of growth and understanding. It’s important to maintain these friendships and form new ones for successful recovery.
The following are 7 reasons why it’s important to develop and keep healthy relationships.
- “Friendfluence” is a key to staying healthy. Think of all the things that have influence in your life. The list is endless. Media, culture, parents, spouses and religion all have an influence on how we live. The word friendfluence emphasizes the powerful role that friends have in our lives. Did you know that if your best friend eats healthily, then you are 5x more likely to eat healthy yourself? Surrounding yourself with positive and healthy friends is key to sobriety.
- Friends can help spot a relapse. Are you feeling down? Are you feeling anti-social? Relapse doesn’t happen overnight. It builds over time as stress, emotions and difficult situations make you think about using drugs and alcohol again. While you might not see the signs of relapse, your friends can help spot them and help you get back on the right track.
- Emotional support acts as an anchor. The first days or even weeks after addiction treatment can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. You might feel on top of the world one day – then the next you might feel depressed. Healthy relationships and positive friends offer emotional support during these ups and downs. They provide stability so that you can find your footing.
- Friends who are sober can help you find resources you need. When you first become sober, you might lack information about available and local resources. Staying connected with friends will help keep you in the loop. A healthy social network is a good resource for information and advice. They can also help direct you to the resources that you need to stay sober.
- New friends can introduce you to new hobbies. When you were using drugs and alcohol, it consumed your life. Chances are you didn’t have the time – or the ability – to try and experience new hobbies. Instead, your time was spent thinking about how to get drugs, do drugs and pay for them. Now that you’re clean, it’s important to find healthy activities to fill your time. Hobbies boost your creativity, concentration and overall happiness. New friends will introduce you to new experiences and hobbies that you might never have tried before.
- Those in recovery will give you a reality check. Accountability is key in recovery. Good friends keep you grounded and don’t let you make excuses. If you hang out with old friends (those you used with), they may enable and support negative behavior. Peer pressure is very real. Fortunately, peer pressure works both ways. New and healthy support groups will provide inspiration and protect against unexpected pitfalls.
- Being a friend helps your friends. Friendship is a two way street. While healthy relationships benefit you, being a good friend also benefits others. You are helping those that are closest to you, and that is something special. The gift of friendship and trust is one of the greatest joys you can pass onto someone else.
Do Your Friends Support Your Recovery?
The benefits of new relationships in recovery only work if you have the right people in your life. Now that you’ve completed a rehab program, it’s time to think about the kind of friend you want to be and the type of people you want around you. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this person allow me to prioritize sobriety and recovery?
- Does this friend try to undermine that mission?
- How do I want my future to look?
- Who do I want around my journey to achieve that life?
When asking these questions, it’s important to understand that it’s best if some former friends are left behind. Friends that you used with or friends that enabled negative behavior shouldn’t be let into your circle of support. While this may be difficult, acknowledge that this is a natural part of life.
If you’re hesitant to cut off unhealthy relationships, just remember that this is why you have to foster new and healthy friendships to supplant them. Your journey in recovery should be one filled with positive people.
Contact us to learn more about staying connected in recovery.