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How Important Is It to Build Friendships in My Support Group?

How Important Is It to Build Friendships in My Support Group?

For drug addicts to get and stay clean, they need friends who understand addiction and who discourage drug abuse

As San Diego drugs addicts work toward recovery, they will probably get to know themselves extremely well. For the most part, recovery is an individual journey that brings about hard-fought changes, but many people will aid and affect this work. For instance, you will have help from many professionals in recovery, and you will also assemble a support group that will support both you and sobriety. Your support system will accomplish the following tasks:

  • Surround you with healthy individuals
  • Create opportunities to voice your struggles
  • Provide healthy peer pressure
  • Provide a lifeline during difficult times[i]

It would be easy to withdraw from people as you face new experiences in treatment and recovery, but you must avoid this behavior. You need connections and a healthy lifestyle to succeed in recovery, so build new friendships in rehab and afterwards to get and stay clean. Without help, San Diego residents may fall back into old habits or become too lonely, both of which can trigger relapse.

Creating Your Support Network

Dr. David Sack writes that recovering addicts often believe they are on the fringes of society, that they are outsiders and have no one who understands them[ii]. He says, “That’s why it’s important to spend time with others in recovery who share similar struggles and can provide a listening ear and honest feedback.” In spite of this fact, be warned, as not all groups are equal; in other words, if you think one is a poor match, then try another one. Ask a sponsor or therapist to help you work through your feelings and for suggestions on other groups.

The network you create needs to comprise positive influences. The San Diego friends you had when you drank or abused drugs will probably undermine recovery now that you are sober. Also, while you may think that dating is a great way to connect with people on a deeper level, romantic relationships can be distracting and volatile, at least within the first year of recovery. In fact, such relationships are strongly associated with relapse[iii].

Another way to strengthen your recovery is to look for a new interest, join a club or take a class in a new area. You could even pursue a hobby or interest that you had before your addiction took over your life. All of these tasks create possibilities for meeting people and creating healthy friendships.

How to Be the Friend that People Want to Have

To create relationships that support recovery, you must contribute to that relationship. You can do so by actively listening so that the other person talks to you and sees that you consider her needs. Other ways to cultivate your social circle within recovery is to become a good friend, which means you need the following qualities:

  • Self-confidence
  • Appropriate social skills
  • Healthy boundaries
  • Preparation

You must make time for your new friends and support group, so do not let work or other responsibilities keep you from forging friendships. Balance is key.

Follow Your Aftercare Plan

No matter how long treatment lasts, follow an aftercare plan once it ends, and plan this aspect out before you leave treatment so you do not return to trouble without help. It is unrealistic to return to relationships that encourage drug abuse while thinking you can stay clean, so part of an aftercare plan will likely include coping skills and resources for living in the real world. “Nearly always there are recommendations for group support, as it is well-known that addicts don’t heal well in a vacuum,” writes Robert Weiss in Psychology Today. “Instead, addicts need ongoing advice, feedback, and support from their peers (fellow addicts) if they hope to maintain the sobriety established in formalized treatment”[iv]. In other words San Diego drug addicts can get and stay clean if they have help even after treatment ends.

However, Weiss also writes that “This critical element of the healing process is the aftercare recommendation addicts are most likely to skip.” Avoiding peer support, perhaps the most essential portion of aftercare planning, often leads to relapse. In response, aftercare plans usually recommend peer support settings with the following elements:

  • Emotional safety and stability among the members
  • Peer similarity with addictive issues and, if possible, life circumstances
  • Consistent gatherings in a safe, stable environment
  • A focused, goal-oriented agenda related to sobriety and finding ways to enjoy life
  • High levels of behavioral accountability
  • The option to find a specific person with whom the recovering addict can share intimately (but not romantically) about whatever is going on in his or her life.[v]

With help, San Diego drug addicts can recover.

Find Someone Who Understands You and Recovery

It is a relief to find someone who understands you and addiction, but finding someone like that who supports sobriety can keep you honest for the long haul. Connecting with San Diego residents will help recovery succeed, so, if you would like more information about where to find this type of support, then call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to discuss addiction and recovery with you.


[i] “The Importance of Good Support Systems in Sobriety,” by Cindy Nichols, PsychCentral.com, Nov. 26, 2013, http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/11/26/the-importance-of-good-support-systems-in-sobriety/.

[ii] “10 Ways to Stop Being Lonely in Recovery,” by David Sack, M.D., PsychCentral.com, June 9, 2015, http://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2013/10/stop-being-lonely-recovery/.

[iii] Id.

[iv] “Why Addicts Relapse After Going to Treatment,” by Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S, Psychology Today, Sept. 19, 2014, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/201409/why-addicts-relapse-after-going-treatment.

[v] Id.