Ending Relationships That Are Harmful to Your Recovery

Posted by | Relapse Prevention, Treatment Programs, Wellness | May 22, 2015

It’s hard to bring some friendships to an end, especially if you’ve shared some good times with people. However, if you are focused on staying sober and if you want to support yourself in your recovery, it’s possible that you might need to bring a friendship or even a relationship to an end.

Recovery is actually a time to put yourself first. It’s a time to be sure that your own needs are met first before meeting the needs of others – and this applies to relationships and friendships. Although you might want to maintain a friendship because of your history with that person, the memories you share, and the way in which you’ve been able to connect in the past, but if they are still drinking or using drugs then it might not be the best choice. Other times, you might want to maintain a friendship with someone simply because you know that he or she might be hurt if you were to end the friendship.

However, if that relationship is harmful, then you are again putting the other person’s needs before yours. Relationships might be harmful if:

  • -your boundaries are not being respected
  • -he or she doesn’t support your sobriety
  • -that person triggers you to drink or use drugs
  • -he or she is still using or drinking
  • -he or she is argumentative or negative
  • -he or she represents a past that you’re trying to move on from
  • -the relationship/friendship is draining or feels burdensome

Yet, if you discover that a friendship or a relationship is in fact harmful, then how do you go about ending it? Some friends might be hurt; others might not care and that might hurt you. It’s not easy ending a friendship but if you know that it’s going to be better for you in the long run, it might be the best choice. Here are some ways to gently bring a relationship to an end:

  1. Talk to your friend or partner about your feelings. You might not come out and say right away that you want to end the friendship/relationship. However, you could communicate your feelings about the danger of the friendship in a series of talks, depending on the level of closeness with that person. You might start out by sharing your concern regarding your sobriety and how your recovery may be at risk because of your history with that person. If you share this in a gentle and concerned way, your friend is likely to understand.
  2. Make a list of the types of activities you could possibly do with your friend. It’s possible that you don’t need to end your friendship entirely. You could share new experiences together and exclude those that include drinking or drug use. You could possibly find new ways to connect. For instance, perhaps your friend enjoys watching movies, playing basketball, or hanging out with other friends. If you can find new ways to spend time together that are alcohol and drug free, then it’s possible the friendship/relationship can continue.
  3. Invite your old friend to spend time with you and a group of new friends. Another way to maintain your friendship is to, in a way, show your old friend the new lifestyle you want to create for yourself. If he or she is willing to support you in that, you might together eventually find new ways of connecting.
  4. After a discussion, you might decide not to spend time together. When the feelings are mutual, it can make the ending of a friendship/relationship easier. When an understanding why a relationship needs to come to an end, there are fewer chances for someone getting hurt. There is less of a possibility of taking it personally. Once the other person understands your situation, he or she may decide to stop inviting you out in the future.

Although ending a friendship/relationship can be hard, in most cases, if not all cases, your sobriety takes priority!

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