Can I Still Hang Out With My ‘Old Friends’ During Recovery?

Can I hang out with my old friends after rehab?

The changes that come with life after rehabilitation are often the hardest to face and adapt to for recovering addicts. The shift from a drug-fueled life to sobriety can seem stark and even a little sad— especially for those who found great pleasure in the world of drugs.

Recovery targets and addresses these kinds of feelings to help you move on, but it’s not always easy. If you’ve spent months or even years using drugs, spending time with other drug users, and enjoying locations frequently preferred in the drug community, recovery will be an uphill battle. Plus, being aware that you need to make a change and actually making that change are two very different things. And it can be especially challenging when you have to sacrifice things like friendships to make that change possible. Now, it’s good to remain in contact with friends during and after recovery. However, spending time with the people who enabled you during your life of addiction should involve extreme caution.

Rehabilitation and “The Reset Button”

Rehabilitation is designed to be a fresh start, providing a separation between one stage of your life and the next. In recovery, you have the chance to focus on yourself and your well-being for a few weeks. This process is critical to breaking the cycle of addiction and introducing you to a new way of life without toxic habits. It’s like pressing a reset button.

The rehabilitative reset button offers both physical and psychological healing. In addition to learning how to abstain from drugs, you and your fellow patients will also learn how to cope with cravings, how to resist temptation, and how to better deal with the kinds of ideas, stressors, and feelings that led to drug abuse in the first place.

Still, resetting your life isn’t the same as rebooting a phone or a computer. Rehabilitation doesn’t erase your memories or wipe out your emotions. Whatever trauma you may have of your addiction is something that you’ll have to learn how to cope with. This includes cutting ties in your social circle where you need to. Remember, when you leave to start your new substance-free lifestyle, you’ll still be the same person, and the feelings and memories of your addiction will still be fresh in your mind— but you’ll be sober.

Adapting to Daily Life after Addiction

Those who reenter society after only a few weeks in rehab tend to struggle, especially if they reunite with old friends right away. A premature return to daily life – and older ways of life – can be a fast path to relapse. This is why it’s crucial for you to build new, sober relationships instead of sticking to the ones you’ve created with other users. By focusing on others who are similarly committed to sobriety, you’ll stay determined to meet your goals.

Friends and Relationships

When you return from rehab, the first thing you’ll want to do is reconnect with friends and family. It’s natural to want to catch up on what you missed, rekindle close relationships, and spend time with your loved ones, but it’s always a good idea to exercise some caution. While your family will likely continue to be a good support system, the friends you made through the course of your addiction will not. The friends that did not choose to get clean— as you did— may not be as supportive or understanding of your commitment to your new lifestyle.

In fact, it’s entirely likely that the friends you had in connection with drug abuse may not have been real friends. You’re likely to find out for sure during your recovery. It may be difficult at first to distinguish drug-fueled connections from real, deep bonds. But, throughout recovery, the real friends will remain by your side. If anyone in your social circle does not support your decision to lead a sober life, then they simply should not be part of it.

Setting Boundaries

How to meet with old friends in recoveryWhile it’s essential to build a reliable support system of individuals who can support you through sobriety, you do not necessarily have to cut out the rest of your social circle for good. It’s entirely possible that some friends who still actively use substances may actually support your decision to get sober. Still, reconnecting with those friends immediately after leaving rehabilitation isn’t the best idea. The good news is, though, that once you’re several months out and have a handle on your sobriety, it might be okay to allow those old friends back into your life again.

If you decide to do this, it’s important to maintain complete control over the situation. Make sure you meet at a neutral location (preferably during the day) where there is no risk of running into triggers. Let your friends know in advance that substance use is off the table, and ask that they respect your sobriety by not imbibing in front of you. Substance abuse shouldn’t even be a topic of conversation around you, so make it clear that you are not going to entertain even the slightest mention. This policy needs to be zero tolerance; make it clear that any casual mention or presence of substances is a deal breaker. Your commitment to change should be respected. If it’s not, then your friends shouldn’t be a part of your sober life.

The Importance of Aftercare in Addiction Recovery

Adjusting to life after rehabilitation can be a challenge. Not only are you faced with setting boundaries with your old friends, but you’re also switching mental gears from “rehab mode” to “life mode” to establish a new, natural daily rhythm. It can be a sharp shift, which is why utilizing aftercare is such an essential part of life after rehab.

Aftercare, or the intensive outpatient services that are available beyond rehab, is a critical component of staying committed to recovery. Sessions with counselors and other recovering addicts will serve as a reminder of all your hard work so far. This will help you stay committed to your overall mission of recovery, giving you even more of the support you need to stay strong against temptation.

Get Help with The Treatment Center’s Outpatient Services

Addiction recovery is a long and challenging road, but the journey can be that much harder if you’re blocked by people who don’t support your sobriety. With support from true friends and the new ones you make along the way, you won’t have to walk this path alone. If you are struggling with addiction and looking to get sober, the hard-working team at The Treatment Center’s Outpatient Services is here to help. As a full-service rehabilitation center, we will offer the support you need to get sober and stay sober.

Please contact us at (844) 211-7944 to learn more! All consultations are confidential.