Recovery is an immensely personal and emotional journey. It is essential to surround oneself with individuals who can and will help support the individual in his or her recovery process. Each person’s experience in recovery will be unique.
Certain people in a person’s life (i.e., family members) may be extremely helpful for one individual in recovery and could prove to be the opposite for another.
Five archetypes of friends every person in recovery should surround him or herself with include:
- Encouraging friend
- Understanding friend
- Supportive friend
- Friend with strong boundaries
- Sober friend
1. Encouraging Friend
People in recovery must surround themselves with individuals who will encourage them to stick to his or her treatment plan. By nature of addiction, relapse is always possible. Recovering individuals need a friend who will not let them give up on their recovery during the hard times.
Every person in recovery will experience hard moments, days, minutes, and it is during these times that an encouraging friend can make all the difference.
2. Understanding Friend
It is often comforting to surround yourself with individuals who have empathy for your challenges. Though it is not crucial for all the friends of a recovering individual to have had similar struggles or experiences, this can be helpful. Going through recovery knowing “you are all in the same boat” can be encouraging.
Being addicted to drugs and/or alcohol can be an isolating and lonely experience. Knowing others hold a similar understanding can also create a sense of camaraderie and allow for the recovering individual to feel part of a community.
3. Supportive Friend
Relapse is part of the cycle of drug and/or alcohol treatment. Distinguishing the difference between enabling and supporting is crucial. A supportive friend will encourage one’s goal of maintaining sobriety, through love and support.
A supportive friend can often feel like the netting to fall back on when things get hard. They will be there to cajole and redirect a recovering individual to stick to the path of sobriety.
4. A Friend With Strong Boundaries
He or she will hold strong boundaries, and never provide permission for the recovering individual to use drugs and/or alcohol. He will also hold the recovering individual accountable for his or her actions, never excusing behavior.
A friend with strong boundaries will be an example to the recovering individual. Through witnessing and watching this friend, the recovering individual will see how to assert one’s own needs.
This is of utmost importance when going through recovery, as there are a plethora of internal and external struggles and tests that present themselves during the recovery process.
5. Sober Friend
Many individuals who are not sober and are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol surround themselves with individuals who enable them to abuse drugs and/or alcohol. These enablers are precisely the individuals to avoid during one’s recovery.
It can often be tremendously challenging to give up a substance that one has become reliant upon, and the mere presence of it can test one’s sobriety. Surrounding oneself with sober friends will help the recovering individual learn how to make positive sober choices, how to have fun without using drugs and/or alcohol.
Having a sober friend around who never suggests going out to a bar for a night out, but rather understands that going to ice cream or coffee is far less temping and can be much more enjoyable, especially at the beginning of one’s recovery can be extremely helpful.
Keep In Mind
Going through recovery allows an individual the time and space to evaluate his or her life, which includes one’s friends. There are many people that enter and exit one’s life throughout his or her lifetime.
Simply because a “friend” has been with an individual for a certain number of years does not mean he or she will be helpful to one’s recovery. Though it can be difficult to think about cutting out a friend that one has had since preschool, if that individual threatens one’s sobriety it is necessary to do so.
It is never too late to make new “best friends.” Individuals in recovery need to be extra careful with whom they surround themselves, as one’s recovery is a vulnerable and gradual process.