When someone makes a decision to go into treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, they have also made a choice to start a new lifestyle. Sobriety is more than just saying no to using chemicals personally. It is also about making positive lifestyle choices, which includes eating well, staying physically active, and getting enough rest.
One of the choices a person in recovery needs to make is about the kinds of friends they want to have relationships with going forward. This is a situation where the saying, “A man is known by the company he keeps,” is a valid one.
Old Friends Who are Using Can Trigger Cravings
Part of addiction treatment focuses on talking about each client’s triggers that encourage them to want to drink or use drugs. Triggers can be something that a person sees, hears, or smells that immediately propel him to the time he was using chemicals. They are different for everyone, but some examples include:
- Sight of a bar
- Sound of a bottle cap snapping
- Smell of beer
- Sight of beer mug with condensation on the outside
- Driving or walking past a location where drugs were purchased
- Reminiscing about past drug use
- Attending parties or social events where drugs or alcohol are available
It’s possible that spending time with old friends can trigger memories of past drug or alcohol use. After a certain amount of time, some people may start to forget the less pleasant details of their prior habits. They may even romanticize their prior experience with drugs and alcohol.
Rather than expecting a person in recovery to maintain his or her sobriety even though they are spending time with friends who are still drinking or using drugs, the better approach is to step away from that level of temptation and make new friends.
Make New Friends While in Recovery
The recreational activities that are offered at a residential drug and alcohol treatment program are meant to reintroduce clients to the idea of having hobbies. For some people in treatment, it may have been quite some time since they have enjoyed leisure activities that didn’t involve drinking or drugs. Once clients get used to participating in recreational activities chemical-free while in treatment, they will likely feel more comfortable about participating in sober activities when their treatment has been completed.
Sober activities can be just about any enjoyable activity where alcohol won’t be served and where drugs won’t be welcome. They could be get-togethers that are specifically organized for people in recovery. For people who have recently left treatment, it may be easier to make new friends with others who have a similar story.
Attending sober activities where there is an understanding that everyone present is in recovery means there won’t be any awkward moments around whether to order alcohol or to continue a pleasant evening by stopping at a bar for a nightcap. As a person gets more time in recovery under his belt, he may feel more comfortable going out with friends who don’t necessarily know that he has been treated for addiction. The choice about whether to share one’s recovery journey or keep it confidential is a strictly personal one.
Lean on Family for Support in Recovery
Family members can be a good source of support of people in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. Often, the family needs to seek their own counseling so that they can get help with their own challenges.
Great Oaks Recovery’s family program provides information that family members can use going forward. Some of the topics covered include how to respond if the person on treatment is behaving dishonestly or is in denial.
Recovery isn’t a place that someone gets to and then stops growing and learning. Instead, it’s an ongoing process that people have to continue to engage with constantly. No one has ever described it as an easy road to walk. With the support of new friends and family, however, people in recovery find that it’s definitely worthwhile.