One of the unfortunate yet seemingly unavoidable side effects of addiction recovery and sober living is that eventually you will reach an impasse: a moment where you must separate yourself from the life you used to lead and begin anew. Ideally, this new journey of enlightenment and wisdom would be travelled with friends and family members by your side to support and encourage you every step of the way.
Unfortunately things rarely work out “ideally.”
Just as substance abuse creates powerful bonds between the people who suffer from the disorder, the decision to release oneself from the vices of addiction can sever those bonds, leaving one feeling abandoned and alone at a vulnerable period. In some cases this can trigger relapse, as one will revert to actively using illicit substances either to maintain the relationships or to cope with their loss.
Don’t fall into that pit trap; if they are willing to walk away from you in your time of need, they are not the people you want in your support network.
Even if you have accepted that addiction recovery will lead to lost relationships, understanding why can help the healing process so you can move on with your sober life.
It’s unlikely they will provide you with the answers you need, so here they are: 5 reasons your friends dumped you after getting sober.
The Relationship Was Only Based On Getting Drunk Or High Together
Thinking back, you can probably see that this relationship was never going to survive your journey to sobriety. After all, this is the friend, lover, or even family member that only seemed to come by when there was a “good time” to be had.
For a while the relationship was mutually beneficial; you fed off of each other’s energy, supply of drugs and alcohol, and codependency. Now that you have separated yourself from the life of an addict, they will separate themselves from you. The party must go on, right?
For these people, we can do nothing but hope for the best. The fact is, we cannot force anyone to give up their addictions; you can probably even attest to how ineffective trying to force your will on another can be. Perhaps with time they will come to understand that sobriety beats living under the influence, but you cannot hinder your growth waiting for that day.
Recovering from a substance abuse disorder is far beyond simply giving up illicit substances. It is a transformation of one’s entire being, sometimes in truly profound ways. Sometimes the people we are during active use and the people we become in sobriety are such polar opposites, it’s hard to believe they are one in the same.
There are people in your life who will welcome this change with open arms. Perhaps you’ve become more responsible, more active in the community and the lives of your loved ones, or even accomplished a dream or goal you’ve been working toward.
For some, these thing will result in pride; others will react with resentment or mistrust. This new person is alien to them and they don’t like it. Honestly, you are better off without these people as well; this kind of reaction speaks to the little faith they had for your success in seeking a sober lifestyle.
They Don’t Know What To Do Or Say
Strangely enough, guilt can also play a factor in people leaving your life when you decide to get sober. This nearly specifically happens when a person feels as if they could have done more to prevent your struggles with illicit substances.
These people may have been the ones who introduced you to drugs or alcohol, those who elected to ignore the elephant in the room, or even those who never recognized the signs. Their guilt blocks them from moving forward with the relationship.
Beyond that, most people don’t know what to do when faced with substance abuse, let alone how to help someone else through recovery. Conventional placating words seem empty and forced, and it’s impossible to take on the burden one’s self.
Unless you have also experienced the devastation substance abuse can cause, relating to the recovery experience is difficult at best. As such, in their mind, distancing themselves is the best course of action they can take. They may not be wrong.
They Can’t Handle The Journey
Listen, not everyone is built to be a confidant. That’s the reality of the world we live in- not everyone has the strength to help shoulder another man’s pain and strife. The road to recovery and the sober journey beyond that is a serious undertaking, one that will open a brand new world of hope and possibilities if you let it. But you can’t force anyone to take that journey with you.
While it hurts to lose relationships because one is dedicated to self-renovation, we cannot make decisions for others simply to keep ourselves comfortable. We cannot force people to stay in our lives any more than we can force ourselves to grow an extra foot– and we shouldn’t want to. Keeping people in your life through guilt or manipulation does no one any good.
Their Part Of Your Journey Is Over
This one isn’t particular only to substance abuse recovery; it’s true for everyone. Sometimes we simply drift apart from the people in our lives. T.D. Jakes, the world-renowned pastor and motivational speaker has an amazing quote about accepting this and moving forward:
“When people walk away from you, let them go. Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you and it doesn’t mean they are bad people. It just means that their part in your story is over.”
It’s okay to hold on to the memories, even if they become bittersweet; it’s okay to reminisce on the roles certain people played in your journey to sobriety. Just make sure you never let someone else hold you back from realizing your full potential. While it may be hard to accept, sometimes it’s better if you are the one to walk away.