Alcohol Rehab 101: Know the Difference Between Good Friends & Bad Influences

Alcohol Rehab 101: Know the Difference Between Good Friends & Bad Influences

Group of Friends Laughing

Whether you’re in the process of recovering from alcohol addiction or considering breaking the habit, you’ve likely come across the advice that having a dependable support group is necessary to recovery. After all, when you attempt to fight addiction yourself, it can easily feel like a losing battle. With people to help you, they can remind you of why it’s important to stick to your recovery plan and hold you up when you feel like you’re falling.

Unfortunately, having a support system isn’t as easy as surrounding yourself with people – you need to surround yourself with the right people. Just as your friends and family can play a role in helping you through addiction recovery, they can just as easily help you relapse, either by direct influence or by enabling your bad habits.

The Role of Your Friends Group in Alcohol Use

For many people, there’s a social aspect to alcohol. People go out to bars with their friends, share a toast at a party, or just share a drink at home. And to some extent, this behavior can be healthy. However, for those recovering from an alcohol addiction, these situations can quickly create a toxic environment.

Many people who suffer from alcohol addiction don’t do so alone. They have friends who are in similar situations of regularly drinking, without any concern for the effects it has on their lives. Even if you’ve successfully completed detox and are in the process of further addiction treatment, it can be easy to fall back into your old habits when surrounded by friends who constantly drink.

Recognizing the Bad Influences in Your Life

When you start taking steps toward recovery, you feel good about yourself and your progress. However, your friends may not feel the same, especially if they suffer from alcohol addiction themselves. Seeing someone who’s recovering while they’re stuck in the same bad habits can often trigger negative behaviors.

Every friend group is different, but there’s a chance your friends may end up becoming the wrong people to have in your life while going through rehabilitation. Some behaviors to look out for are:

  • Encouraging you to drink again
  • Dismissing your rehabilitation efforts
  • Ignoring your boundaries
  • Not discouraging you when you consider drinking again
  • Telling you to skip rehab or counseling sessions

Any of these behaviors is toxic to both your friendship and to your recovery. It’s important to remember that there is a problem with excessive drinking – that’s why you decided to detox and start the road to rehabilitation in the first place. No matter what your friends say, there is harm in “just one drink for old time’s sake” – and you need to recognize it.

However, not all bad influences are those who actively encourage you to return to your former habits. Many people are passive enablers. This means that they don't try to push you back to drinking, but they also don’t do anything to discourage you, either. Both of these types of people are detrimental to your recovery. Once you realize that, you can take the next steps to letting them go.

How to Let Go of Bad Influences

It can be hard to cut people out of your life, especially when they’re your friends. Even people who are bad for us hold a special place in our hearts, so going through with not having them in your life can be very difficult. It’s even more so if they’re your main source of social interaction and cutting them out will leave you feeling isolated.

However, people who don’t support your recovery are some of the biggest obstacles to avoiding relapse and staying sober. Your friends who also abuse alcohol will want you to continue to do the same so they have company. Don’t let that happen. Think of it this way: if they don’t want to help you improve your life, are they really your friends?

The bottom line is that no one person or group of people is worth a relapse. You need to be firm with the fact that you’re a different person making different decisions about your life. Any of your former friends who can’t help with that doesn’t have a place in your life. Set boundaries for yourself and enforce them. If someone doesn’t cooperate, you need to cut the individual out of your life.

You should never make compromises when it comes to your sobriety. If you make the slightest concession to your boundaries, the other person will likely take much more than that. No matter what negotiation tactics they try, you need to stick firmly to your strategy. If that involves not being around them if they’re going to drink or encourage you to do so, that’s what’s necessary for you to reclaim your life.

It’s common to feel guilty for these decisions. After all, your friends may certainly try to treat you as the bad guy in the situation. Here’s the important thing to remember: you’re not bad for bettering yourself.

You may also feel like you’re abandoning your friends who are suffering from the same thing you are. However, you can’t support them if you’re not stable yourself – and you certainly can’t help anyone who isn’t willing to help themselves. If they ultimately decide to change their habits, you can help them, but only if you’re moving forward to give yourself a successful recovery.

Finding the Right People to Help with Rehabilitation

If you find yourself cutting off a lot of toxic influences in your life when recovering from alcohol addiction, you may feel isolated as a result. That’s why it’s important to find new people who will be supportive. This can include your family, other friends who don’t have drinking problems, your counselor, and support groups.

When everyone’s on the same page when it comes to your recovery, your path becomes a lot clearer. There’s still a lot of hard work ahead, but you’ve given yourself a stronger foundation to work from. With the right friends that have your back, you’ll be able to get your life on track and move past your addiction.

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