Now that you’re in recovery, it’s vital to be proactive in setting boundaries for yourself. This includes protecting your health by being outspoken with your social circle about what you will and will not do. Your friends and family might know that you’re in recovery, but they may not know exactly what that entails. They may be unsure how to act around you or whether they can still have the same good times with you that you used to share.
Part of your recovery means taking control of your own life by setting the terms that work for you in all areas, including with your friends, family, and broader social circle. People who trust and support you will be nothing but understanding and empathetic to the new standards you may set for your interactions with them. It may not be easy to transition into your new social dynamics without drugs or alcohol to ease them. Still, it’s an investment in your long-term success that can become comfortable to you before you know it.
Be Proactive in Setting Your Terms
When coming back to your old relationships, be the one to step up and clarify which behaviors you are avoiding. If you’re no longer drinking, tell people kindly but firmly not to offer you alcohol. It can help to sit down with the people closest to you, either one-on-one or in a group, to discuss with them your needs and boundaries going forward. This way, you’ll be able to count on them to know how to act with you and to assist in guiding others to doing the same. Having your friends and family on your side in recovery makes a huge difference in how you feel about your day-to-day success in staying sober.
In less intimate settings, with regular friends or casual acquaintances, decide how to break the news on a case-by-case basis. You should trust your gut about people you suspect will need reminding. There are people you may now wish to spend less time with, especially those with whom you used to share the most substance use.
Accept the New Realities of Your Social Circle
As you revisit old relationships, you may realize that some of your old friends and even family members are less-than-receptive to your new way of life. Some may be unable to accept the seriousness of your commitment to bettering yourself and may even ply you with offers of drugs or alcohol against your wishes. More likely, some will simply go on drinking or using in front of you, especially if you’ve shared substances in the past.
These actions can test your resolve, present you with dangerous opportunities, and hurt your morale in staying sober. It’s also a sign that these ‘friends’ don’t respect your wishes for recovery. If you have these kinds of experiences with old friends or family, it may be time to reconsider how close you want to be to them in this new phase of your life.
At the same time, don’t write anybody off before having these critical conversations. You may be surprised to find who’s in your corner more than ever now that you’re in recovery. This is a chance for you to rebuild old relationships from the ground up. Explore the people around you as if for the first time. Some will indeed surpass your expectations in a positive and encouraging way.
Don’t Feel Bad About Reaching Out
As you transition into your new life in your old circumstances, chances are you may experience the turbulence of adjustment. You may encounter situations that tempt you away from sobriety, unsupportive people, or newfound feelings of loneliness and isolation due to the significant changes you’ve experienced. It may feel like nobody understands you now or that there’s a part of you that can’t communicate your emotional needs to people who haven’t changed the way you have.
Don’t feel bad about reaching out to get professional help. Therapy, peer support systems like 12-Step programs, and sponsors exist because recovery is a human process that benefits from human guidance and interaction. Your family, friends, and romantic partner can and should provide you with support and empathy. Still, unless they’ve gone through recovery themselves, they don’t know what you’re experiencing. Sobriety professionals are trained to help guide you through every part of your recovery, not just the withdrawal and detox. Getting help can make the entire process easier and allow you to process the complex emotions that accompany it without feeling isolated.
Transitioning back into your social circles after getting sober can bring amazing ups and downs. Your family and friends should support and encourage you, not make your recovery more of a challenge. Learn the importance of setting boundaries with the people around you to protect your best interests. It may not be easy, but the people who care about you will try to respect your wishes. Even the most understanding personal network might not provide you with the same type of guidance through recovery as professional treatment experts. At Valiant Living in Denver, Colorado, we offer a safe, comfortable environment for people struggling with addiction to treat their problems at the source and plan for a healthier future. Your recovery doesn’t end at detox. Get in touch with us anytime to discuss receiving mental, emotional, or therapeutic guidance as you move forward in your sobriety and in your life. Call us at (303) 952-5035 to learn more.