If you or a loved one is currently in recovery, there are many different ways to start or continue that journey towards a healthy life. Some involve self-reflection and improvement, but there are many external steps one should take as well.
Overcoming addiction isn’t 100% internal – your friends, family, co-workers, and everyone around you are involved in some way simply by being a part of your life. Unfortunately, you may have knowingly or unknowingly pushed loved ones away through addiction, and it can be a challenge to gain back some of the friends you have lost. This is an especially tough step in addiction recovery (which makes it an essential one to take) due to the fact that people’s reactions are outside of your control. Knowing that their reactions to your addiction or recovery is theirs and theirs alone is crucial to fully grasp before reaching out to them during your recovery.
If you’re preparing to begin dealing with addiction by trying to regain lost friendships, here are some tips to mentally and physically prepare you for this important, yet difficult, step. We’ll also cover some tips on how to react if a family member or friend who has hurt you through addiction reaches out to you during their recovery.
Gaining Back Friends After Your Addiction
Identify and Contact Lost Friends
First and foremost, think of whose friendship you have lost through your addiction. Whether it’s one or several people, it’s essential to identify what important people in your life are no longer there and who you would like to reconnect with. If you’re able to reach out to them in person, that’s the best route to take, but if you have to turn to social media or the phone, that’s just fine.
Before you contact old friends, be prepared with a list of specific problems that led to your friendship dissolving. Unfortunately, generic apologies aren’t going to cut it. You need to truly look into the past to let them know you realize past mistakes and have dealt with them individually. This will ensure them that you are serious about moving forward with your recovery.
Set Milestones For Yourself
Enlist your friends’ help! Recovery is not possible as an individual – you need support from family and friends. Plus, this will allow your friend to feel valued and an active part of your recovery. It’s a win-win for both you and your friends.
Be Prepared For Anything
One thing that’s essential to keep in mind is that no matter if you do everything in your power to gain back certain friends you’ve lost through addiction, there may be those who simply cannot reciprocate. You may run into unresponsive friends or even hostility. What’s important to remember is that you can’t control the reactions of those around you – you can only control the steps you take towards recovery. Staying positive and true to yourself can be extraordinarily difficult when trying to reconnect with someone unwilling to forgive, but in the end it’s your recovery, not theirs.
Build Trust & Carry On
Acknowledging and apologizing are simply the first steps in dealing with addiction and gaining back friends. It’s easy to stay on the path towards recovery when the euphoria of gaining back a lost friend is at its highest, but as time (and life) go on, it can become difficult to remain on track. Make sure that you “put your money where your mouth is” and continue to build trust with the friends you have gained back over time.
When A Lost Friend In Recovery Reaches Out
If you hear from a friend or family member who has struggled with addiction in the past, it can be difficult to hear things you may have heard more than once before. Remain open and honestly gauge the tone of the conversation – do they seem dedicated towards recovery? Have they identified past problems they are now dealing with? Are they enlisting your help to keep them on track? You may not be immediately able to open your heart back to them, but this is an important moment in your friendship that can dictate the future for both of you.
Accept & Forgive
If you decide to reconnect with your friend, you need to be honest from the beginning. There is no room for harbored resentments or mistrust at this point – be prepared to fully forgive and support them if you move forward. Recovery takes a village, and you either need to be 100% committed or not. If you find yourself unable to forgive them or move past old transgressions, you need to evaluate your level of dedication and potential risk to truthfully reply from the start.
This may be the hardest part of supporting someone overcoming addiction. If they have not laid out a recovery plan to you with milestones for you to hold them accountable to, help to create them together. Understand that while there may be slips and falls during their recovery, if they are truly dedicated to their ongoing health, you need to be there to pick them up when they need it. This doesn’t mean you have to blindly accept their mistakes – know your limit and communicate it clearly with them. It’s time to start your recovery together.
If you would like more information on how to start your journey towards recovery, read more about how Pat Moore Foundation can help. Learn what to expect in treatment, what addiction treatment options are available, as well as details such as detox pricing and availability.