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Here’s the Door: Cutting Toxic Relationships Loose

There’s a general rule in early recovery to cut ties with all negative influences in your life. Not only do they hinder your own personal growth, but they put you at risk for backsliding into relapse.

So, let’s look at some common toxic relationships and what you can do about them if and when they pop up in your life.

Friends from the Past

It’s true – you learn who your true friends are when you hit rock bottom, so don’t be surprised if many of your so-called “friends” during your addiction fall off the face of the earth once you get out of treatment. However, there’s still those from your past who will hang on, with the hopes they can turn you back to the “dark side.” These are the most dangerous relationships – the ones that hold you to your drinking and drugging past.

These past associations can drag you down and keep you from fulfilling your true potential. Instead, seek out a new, positive social circle – whether it be at work, an extracurricular activity, or a group meeting.

And let’s be honest, early recovery is a time for meeting new people who are interested in pursuing personal growth and establishing healthy bonds with those who genuinely care and support you.

The Drama Queen (or King)

Your early sobriety is supposed to be about focusing on your own self-healing and growth, which is why jumping into a relationship right out of rehab is so frowned upon. Even worse than dating too soon is picking a not-so-ideal partner – one who only brings angst and drama to the relationship.

It should go without saying, but being on an emotional roller coaster day-in and day-out is only setting you up for failure. Instead, pour energy into yourself; go to meetings, find new hobbies, volunteer at a local charity. After all, you are who you attract and, if you’re in a good place in your head and in your recovery, chances are you’re going to find an equally suitable partner.

The Enabling Relative

Having a toxic relative can be a sticky situation, but cutting these family members out of your life might be the most important decision you’ll make during early recovery. Family has a unique way of getting under your skin and directly influencing your thoughts and decisions. They also have a tendency of being too overprotective in early sobriety, which can quickly turn to enabling – a big trigger for many addicts. Before they push you too far, establish healthy boundaries. And if this means loving them from a distance, don’t be hesitant to do so.

In short, the most important relationship you have is the one you have with yourself. Those who are most successful in recovery are the ones who embrace the attitude that they’ll take whatever steps necessary to protect their sobriety. And sometimes this means making difficult choices and severing ties with people from your past. In the end, why would you want someone in your life who’s negatively impacting it…rather than making it better?

Additional Reading: Finding Your Own Balance in Sobriety

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