Old Friends, New Friends and… New Beginnings

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing people who are new in recovery talk about how lonely they are, and how at times they miss the friends that they use to hang out with. It’s not easy changing your circle of friends, but it can be a killer to keep hanging out with the people who are enabling you in your addiction.

It is tough to start over, that much is true. For those of us in recovery, especially early recovery, starting over tends to take on the magnitude of the nearly impossible. There are just so many different areas of life that need changing, so much to do, and so much to learn before anything can be done. How can someone make sense of all this?

Let’s be real for a second…The first friend we have to say goodbye to in recovery is our addiction, and whatever drug hijacked our brain and turned us into something we never intended to become. Our addiction turned on us—from reliable best friend to instigator of problems to vicious enemy. But what about the people in our lives— the ones we hung out with, got high with, grew up with… the people we called our friends. What happens when you live with someone who is part of your addictive past? What then?

If feeling the pain of separation from lifelong friends or even loved ones and family members is not something that you’re eager to take on, consider the fact that such a separation may not be forever.

But when continuing the association threatens to sabotage our sobriety, we really have only one choice, and that is to put some distance between you and them. But wait. Not all is lost…some of them will hang tough with us when we stop using. They’re usually the ones who have been waiting for us to see the light. Maybe they even had to shut us out for a while—a seeming betrayal that only makes sense as sobriety gives us new perspective on the damage we’ve caused and how difficult it might have been to be around us during our worst behavior. These are the friends worth keeping, the ones who champion our sobriety and welcome us back to the world of healthy activity: a sober day at a hockey game, skiing, snowboarding, a concert without smoking a joint, dinner without a drink, and the guarantee of a morning without a hangover. These are new beginnings.

On the other hand, there are people we will have to leave behind, and people who will fade away as we grow in recovery. The ones we need to say goodbye to are the ones who can’t or won’t acknowledge the importance of our new sobriety. It is often because they are caught up in the swamp of addiction themselves. Others, not necessarily substance abusers, won’t be able to adapt to the transformations that we necessarily go through as we move along a spiritual path. To some, we won’t be fun anymore; to others, we’ll be a threat to their own denial.

In recovery, we serve as examples to those we leave behind. Sometimes a friend we had to leave behind will finally have a moment of surrender and follow us into recovery, and the example we have set makes the difference between life and death.

Here’s the bottom line: When we enter recovery, one of the most important things that we will do is to move forward. This means leaving the past behind, where it belongs. Live each day to the best that we can, doing the most that we can with each moment. Do not obsess over the past or worry about the future. Live in the present and make every moment count. This is, after all, your new beginning.

Please share with us some of your thoughts and comments. Thanks for stopping by.

Luke D.


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