It’s not easy to go through addiction treatment, but some of recovery’s biggest challenges occur after you leave the rehab center. Everyday life is filled with stresses and pressures, but a strong network of friends and loved ones can help make the transition easier.
The issue of friendships can be tricky when you’re in recovery. You may be apprehensive about reconnecting with old friends, and you may not be sure how to cultivate new friendships. It takes a bit of work to re-establish old relationships and develop new ones, but the rewards of healthy friendships justify the effort.
Navigating Life after Treatment
Post-rehab life comes with its share of new challenges. You’ll have to deal with cravings and rely on your coping skills to get you through them. You may also struggle with pacing yourself. It’s normal to want to rush into resuming all your normal activities, but it’s more important to take your time and get accustomed to your new life.
Isolation is another common pitfall during early recovery. You may find yourself wanting to curl up and stay at home, but that’s not a healthy approach. You’re going through major changes in your life, and friendships can be a tremendous source of happiness and support.
Reaching Out to Old Friends
One way to build up your network of relationships is to reconnect with old friends. Reach out to them on social media, or plan a coffee or lunch date if you see them in person. You don’t even have to talk about your battle with addiction at first if you’re not comfortable with it: Just have fun sharing memories and catching up on other parts of your lives.
It’s important to be selective about which friends you reconnect with. Steer clear of anyone who is connected to your previous substance use or who still uses today. These old friends will only add more temptations to your life, even if they don’t actively try to get you to use again.
You may end up running into these people at some point, so it’s smart to arm yourself with some ready responses in case they invite you to use. Simple statements such as “No thanks, I’m 30 days sober and planning to stay that way” are enough to make the point without being rude.
Developing New Friendships
In addition to reconnecting with old friends, you’ll probably want to make new friendships in your recovery. Developing new friendships may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Your 12-Step Program or support group can be a good place to meet people who share your goals and habits. Early recovery is a good time to explore healthy new interests: Try taking a class, joining a club or playing on a local recreational sports team. Volunteer work is a wonderful way to give back to your community and meet other people with similar ideals.
It’s clear that healthy, supportive friendships can play a major role in your recovery. You may need to let go of certain old friendships that could derail your recovery efforts, and you’ll probably need to develop some new relationships. Surrounding yourself with people who are positive influences in your life might take some work, but the results are worthwhile.