During active addiction, I wasn’t always surrounded with the best people. It would be reasonable to say I had some bad influences in my life (or maybe I was the bad influence. Who knows). And as my addiction progressed and got worse, so did the people I was spending my time with. I was simply naturally attracted to people who wanted to drink alcohol and use drugs the same way I did (all the time, and as much as possible). This isn’t unique to me. From what I understand, it’s a pretty similar experience to what most people have in active addiction.
When I started trying to get sober, things had to change. If you’ve been reading these blogs for any length of time, you’ll know that I didn’t get sober on my first—or even my fifth—try. It took me years of treatment centers and support groups before it finally stuck. And one thing I learned is that for recovery to work, everything had to change. That included the people I was spending my time with.
On more than one occasion, I was sober and doing well, only to be drawn back in to using by seeing one of my dysfunctional friends. As soon as I saw them, I had some kind of deep internal reaction that instantly sent me right back to using and drinking. Obviously, I had to do something about it if I wanted to have any hope of staying sober.
Some people I sadly had to get away from. For example, the girl I had been dating for several years was nothing but trouble for me (I caused my share of damage in her life too, of course). There was no way I was going to be able to make it if I continued dating her. There was simply too much baggage in the relationship. We seemed to feed off each other’s dysfunction. Luckily, she made this one easy by breaking up with me first. Some problems solve themselves.
There were other people who I simply had to cut out of my life. I had guys who I found myself calling “just to catch up,” after I had gotten sober. Of course, one thing led to another and I was high again before I knew it. They had to go. I didn’t feel good about it, but I blocked their phone numbers and deleted their contact information from my phone. I still feel guilty about it sometimes. They were my friends after all. For all I know, they’re still wondering what happened to me, just like I’m wondering what became of them.
And then there was another group of people in my life. These were old friendships that I wouldn’t call “toxic.” Maybe they weren’t the best relationships, but they weren’t dysfunctional. These were people who drank and used a lot—but not addicts. The type of people who smoke weed every day and play a lot of video games. As my life changed, I simply found myself spending less and less time with them. We still stay in touch—there’s nothing wrong with that. But now that I’m in recovery, our lives are taking different directions. It’s bittersweet, but it really sums up recovery. Over the last few years, I can honestly say that everything in my life has changed.