The experience of treatment is different for everyone. Some stays are more extended, and others are shorter but more intensive. Either way, we experience a shift in our thinking and leave with an entirely new design for our lives. As we progress, we must leave habits, hobbies, and people behind in favor of this design. Our social lives look different as we avoid situations and places that create the potential for relapse. Does this mean we have to leave our old friendships behind?
Out With the Old and in With the New?
In recovery, many of us pick up new routines and practices that look very different from the ones we had before. We may hold the same job, and our families might be intact. Still, we also have self-care routines that include new hobbies and sometimes a spiritual practice that we did not before. Alongside the additions to our life, we have excluded things that we find no longer serve us. Bars or clubs, for instance, present a temptation that isn’t worth the risk. We’ve decided to remove from our lives friendships where the only common bond was substance use. The best option is to surround yourself with like-minded people. We meet people in treatment, and in various 12-step programs, with whom we choose to share our new lives. While the connections we make in recovery are essential, we don’t have to cut all ties to our old friends.
Your story is unique, and the relationships you had before recovery have to be evaluated on a personal level. Using the knowledge you have gained about your substance use, you can decide if there were friendships in your life that are healthy to continue. If the relationships we had were heavily tied to our past behaviors, we might decide to end them. In some cases, there may be relationships that had more depth and carry more value for us. Bridging the gap between our past and our future can seem like a difficult task, but these relationships can grow if we are open and honest. Vulnerability and communication open space for these friends to understand the changes in our lives. In turn, we can teach them how to respect the new boundaries that support our recovery.
A healthy support system is an essential part of recovery, and having a large and varied support group can be a vital resource in your recovery. Both old friends and new, recovery-centered, friends are all valuable as you learn to navigate your new life.
The Value of Friendship
We often fear that we have less in common with our old friends than we did while we were using. We may feel as if our friends won’t enjoy spending time with us if they need to be sensitive to our boundaries. Often the root of these fears lies in how we view ourselves and our beliefs about why people choose to be our friends. Recovery certainly changes some things, but the core of who we are remains the same. With hard work, our character only improves. People from our past lives who choose to stick around typically do so because we have a deep connection with them. They can appreciate our humor, our spirit, and our kindness. We can take the fun and interactions we experience with our newer friends and make them a part of our old friendships. There are many things your friends may be willing to do that keep you feeling safe while you all have fun. As time passes, you may become more comfortable around some of the old activities you used to share with your friends. It’s important to remember that your relationships are not built on what activities you are doing together. Instead, you’re seeking to create a real connection with the people in your life.
Your support system should be what feels right for you. Only you know which people you’d like to be surrounded by. While the decision to keep people in your life is yours alone, allow your friends the chance to grow with you, if possible. A lot of people wish to get to know you and people want to invest in you. Recovery shifts continuously. Part of this process is our new ability to navigate these changes with grace and poise. It has been said that the opposite of addiction is connection. Value the connections you have and grow alongside the people in your life.
Ashley Addiction Treatment is an innovative treatment program located on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Ashley provides support for professionals seeking help with addiction. We are able to help people with co-occurring disorders and offer confidential treatment programs to meet your needs. Please reach out to us today at (800) 799-4673.