What Will Happen to My Old Friendships During Recovery?

Many recovering people wonder how their recovery will impact their friendships. When you start to get clean and sober, you may feel like an entirely different person, or maybe you’ll feel like the same person going through the motions of a different life. Either way, your new sober lifestyle is going to change some of your friendships, and that’s not a bad thing. Still, friendships change, especially as an adult, and that can be difficult at first. Below you’ll find several scenarios that you may experience with your friends during your recovery.

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Keeping Old Friends

Some friendships are healthy and worth maintaining throughout your recovery. The friends who encouraged you to get sober will be the friends who will encourage you to stay sober and support you through your struggles. If you went through an intervention, the friends who were present at the intervention are likely the friends who should stay in your life.


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About half of Americans have a close friend or family member with an addiction.

Leaving Old Friends

If you still have friends who are using drugs or who enabled you to use drugs, you’re going to have to cut those friendships out of your life. If you’re not sure whether or not a friendship is worth keeping, ask yourself the following questions:


  • Does this person abuse alcohol or drugs?
  • Did this person ever pressure me to drink or use drugs?
  • Do I feel tempted to drink or use drugs when I’m around this person?
  • Does this person make it easier for me to use drugs by loaning me money, driving me to a dealer, buying me alcohol?
  • Is this person enabling me to use drugs?
  • Do I generally feel unsafe around this person?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to end that particular friendship. As a matter of fact, this individual may not be your friend at all. Certain friends can generate triggers, or situations that lead you to drink or use drugs.


One of the best things that you can do for your sobriety is to limit your exposure to triggers. During your last week or so of rehab, ask your therapist for tips on how to end unhealthy friendships. After rehab, you can continue to see a therapist who will help you if you become tempted to contact these friends.


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If you want to take the time to say goodbye and explain why you have to end the friendship, that’s fine. However, only do so if that’s what makes you comfortable. If you feel uncomfortable making contact but feel like you have some sort of obligation, understand that you do not owe anyone an explanation. Only offer one if it gives you closure.


Next, cut off all contact from these bad influences. This includes deleting all of their contact information from your devices. You can ask other friends to help you with the step if you’d like. Rehab and old friends sometimes just don’t mix well.


Ending friendships – even toxic friendships – is difficult. It’s important for you to know that it’s okay for you to miss these friends. You should not feel ashamed for grieving the loss of these friendships. In fact, you can grieve for your friends while also acknowledging that they weren’t good influences in your life.

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Making New Friends

Your recovery will help you find opportunities to make new friends. After you return from rehab, don’t isolate yourself. Fill your life with new friendships, especially if you’re the type of person who has always enjoyed being around people.


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If you don’t have any friends who don’t use drugs, now is the time to find some. Even if you already have plenty of sober friends, there’s nothing wrong with adding new friendships to your life. Try some new hobbies that will encourage you to get out of the house. New activities will introduce you to new people.

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Rehab Old Friends

If you’ve lost friendships because of your addiction, now may be a good time to try and reconnect with those friends. A few of the 12 Steps involve acknowledging the harm that addiction causes and trying to make amends for that harm.


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You may or may not want to join a 12 Step Program, but in any case, repairing damaged relationships and making amends is a wonderful step. Some friends may welcome you back with open arms while others may not be ready to forgive just yet. Prepare yourself for either scenario, but don’t hesitate to make the effort.

Getting Started

Rehab old friends? Before you re-establish healthy friendships, you’ll need to start your recovery process. Rehab Info can help you get started. Begin by calling us, and a member of our staff will help you narrow down your rehab choices so that you can pick the option that will best cater to your needs.

Every person’s recovery journey looks different, and we want to help you

get started on the right path. Start by calling 800-492-QUIT today. No matter how many or how few friends you may have, you won’t have to go through this alone.
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