Some say that “you are the company you keep”. Many people who experience addiction may begin through what activities are perceived as fun with friends and family. Friends and family members who enable addiction may not be good influences on your life. Relationships that enable addiction, or refuse to respectfully acknowledge positive lifestyle changes can be harmful to your learning to heal. The changes you make in recovery can make or break the relationships in your life. Those who are healthy and supportive of your recovery will likely grow closer to you, while those who are not healthy will not. Managing relationships in recovery changes the whole meaning of “the company you keep”.
Looking at Relationships with New Eyes
The term “beer goggles” may have been coined to refer to finding people attractive while intoxicated that you may not otherwise find attractive. There can be a wider application, though, when you go into treatment for addiction. The people you thought were your friends may not actually have met the definition of friendship. Sure, they were fun, they would go to the bar with you or party with you. Some of them may have even been the people who supplied you with substances at times. But were those friends truly looking after your best interests?
Imagine a friend who would knowingly put you at risk for short and long-term health problems, create issues with your family and other relationships, legal problems, potential loss of job or housing, and even potentially an untimely death. When someone hands you your first drink, pill, or whatever, that is probably not what they are thinking. But there is enough awareness of the risks of substance use that should deter anyone from taking the risk. It’s okay to want to have fun with your friends, but if alcohol or substance use is your only version of fun together, it’s time to find others with healthier interests.
When Being Selfish is Not Actually Selfish
Too many people cave to peer pressure when it comes to substance use. Standing up for yourself is hard, and it is also really difficult to be the odd person out in a group of friends. It can seem selfish to be the one who ruins the fun for everyone else, especially when your abstinence brings their own consciences into play. But being selfish in a situation like this is not actually selfish.
Calling your own shots is known as being assertive. You have a right to make your own decisions, to make healthy decisions for you and your body, and you also deserve to be surrounded by people who support you in your decisions. Assertiveness for your sobriety and health is an example of setting a boundary.
Setting and Keeping Your Boundaries
Healthy boundaries are the clearly defined verbal, relational, or physical lines that you set for yourself with other people to be able to live within your values. Recovery is difficult enough without people triggering you or adding to your stress. Some ideas for healthy boundaries to set in your relationships.
- Substances may not be brought into my home.
- My prior substance use may not be used against me in a conversation or behind my back.
- I have the right to take a step back if a conversation becomes too heated and to take care of my emotions.
- I will not be manipulated or coerced into living outside my boundaries.
- I will be honest about my recovery with myself and others.
- I will be accountable for my words and actions toward others around me.
There are many different types of boundaries that you can set with both yourself and others in recovery based on your specific needs and the needs of those you love. Remember that holding others accountable for the boundaries you set for them requires you to also be held accountable. By setting and keeping boundaries, you can empower yourself to be surrounded by people who truly love and support you.
A Friend in Relapse is No Friend at All
Being assertive and setting boundaries with those around you are two of the most important keys to managing the relationships with friends and family in your recovery. Prioritizing the time you spend with those who actively support your recovery is another way to demonstrate to yourself and others that you prioritize yourself and your recovery as well. There are so many ways to relapse, risking your recovery for the company of others is simply not worth it.
If you relapse, then your friends and family also miss out on the friendship that you bring to them. A friend in relapse is no friend at all. Managing relationships in treatment is important. Even more so than before treatment, “the company you keep” in recovery can make or break you.
Sometimes, you can be so focused on your own recovery that you forget about the company you keep. Having supportive friends and family around you is important. Managing relationships includes looking at your current relationships with new eyes, being more assertive, and setting and keeping boundaries. In doing so, you can not only help to prevent relapse for yourself, but also still be there for a friend, loved one, or for others as well. Within our treatment program at Rancho Milagro Recovery, we focus on learning to be more assertive and set boundaries in relationships. The caring staff at our family-owned facility understand recovery firsthand and what it means to set and keep boundaries with the people in your life. Call our Temecula, California ranch at (951) 526-4582 to find out how you can begin your treatment for addiction. We accept many forms of insurance, including Tricare, to make your recovery as convenient as possible.