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Do I Have to Leave My Friends to Pursue Sobriety?

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Becoming dedicated to a detox and recovery program comes with a myriad of changes, especially as a person is just beginning to address the widespread effects of addiction and its impact on every facet of their daily life. A changing environment, routine, and perspective are all a part of the recovery process. One of the most challenging aspects of recovery is the change in a person’s social circle. 

This change in social circle is a powerful tool for creating a new support network that supports sobriety, but it may also raise questions about how to approach already established friends. Individuals do not necessarily have to cut ties with friends to pursue sobriety. Yet, their changing goals and perspectives in recovery provide an opportunity to look at how these social circles may either support them throughout their journey or present unnecessary risks that could threaten the development of newfound sober practices. 

The Importance of Personal Relationships

Personal relationships are instrumental for curating feelings of support and belonging, and addiction can deteriorate these crucial relationships. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can be prevalent as a result. Challenging the use of drugs and alcohol means individuals also address how these relationships have been impacted by their use. 

Having friends that provide a feeling of acceptance is paramount for an effective recovery. How a person’s friends act and support their sober decisions is most important, and there is a myriad of different kinds of relationships they can have. Ensuring that individuals have the right supportive relationships makes a big difference in their continued success in recovery. 

Knowing the Roles Friends Play

Detox and recovery are personal ventures, and feelings of vulnerability and stress are common. Not all relationships a person has with their friends have to be the same, and they may have different expectations depending on who they are spending time with. 

For some, confiding wholly is extremely beneficial, as is creating trust, understanding, and support to navigate even the most trying times that arise through their recovery. These friends may be present for the highs and lows of a person’s journey, and regular contact is advised to continue nurturing these relationships. 

Other relationships may be built with a different goal in mind. Having some friends who may not be fully aware of a person’s recovery efforts, but rather share a hobby or other interest, can be just as instrumental. These types of relationships allow individuals to continue practicing their social skills while pursuing personal hobbies. This kind of break from active therapeutic efforts can provide some mental respite while still aligning with their larger sober goals.

Elements of Supportive Friends

Whether a person chooses to continue to socialize with a particular social group should depend on the influences and culture of the group. Some friends will be understanding and supportive of the decision to pursue a sober lifestyle. This support does not mean that a friend will necessarily have to understand every element of addiction and the complexities of the disease. 

Instead, it means that they exhibit a willingness to listen and adapt to the culture of the relationship to accommodate the person’s changing goals in sobriety. Being willing to listen, eliminating stresses by avoiding discussions about addictive substances or using, and agreeing to explore new hobbies are all powerful elements of a truly supportive friend. Getting away from these supportive individuals is unnecessary and ill-advised as these individuals can be powerful and supportive allies in the recovery journey. 

Of course, not all friends will approach a person’s dedication to sobriety the same way. It is possible that individuals may have to distance themselves from detrimental groups. There are times they may need to actively cease contact with certain individuals in the pursuit of sobriety. 

When to Distance From Destructive Relationships

Preparing to attend a dedicated detox program does not mean that a person has to end all previous relationships. Although, it does mean that they will have to analyze how specific relationships will either positively or negatively impact their changing goals. 

Unfortunately, it may be necessary to end certain relationships. While each relationship is unique, recognizing any number of negative influences in these relationships can cause a person to separate themself from these friends, regardless of how long they have been associated with them. Some of the signs of a destructive relationship include:

  • Minimizing the need for recovery
  • Teasing about a person’s sober decisions
  • Continuing to use drugs or alcohol around an individual
  • Talking about drugs or alcohol openly
  • Romanticizing times when the person was using
  • Invitations or dangerous statements like “Come on, one won’t hurt”
  • Being unwilling to explore new perspectives or activities
  • Not attempting to adjust the language or culture of the relationship or social group

Unfortunately, it is possible that a person will have to distance themself from these relationships if they prove to be actively detrimental to their recovery efforts. Being dedicated to a detox program and beginning a journey to a sober future will surround individuals with like-minded peers who are understanding and pursue sobriety themselves. This will provide an opportunity to create new, supportive friendships based in sobriety.

Your friends will influence your recovery journey, and ensuring that these influences are positive and supportive can make a huge difference in your continued sobriety and emotional health. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, we are prepared to help you address how your relationships affect your life. We will help you build the social skills necessary to nurture supportive relationships while instilling the strategies to distance yourself from unhealthy ones. Our comfortable, communal atmosphere also introduces you to a myriad of caring, supportive professionals and peers to create new relationships in sobriety. From taking your first step into detox to residential care, 12-Step programs, medication-assisted treatment, and a myriad of personalized treatment modalities and experiential programs, we are committed to helping you find your best route to a sober future. For more information on how we can help you, call to speak to us today at (949) 426-7962.


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