Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on March 22, 2019.
When you have a substance addiction, finding the strength to get sober is a battle. When you have a friend or family member with an addiction of their own, staying sober can be even harder.
If you've taken the steps to stop your addictive behavior and start the recovery process, the most important thing is maintaining your clean state of mind and avoiding a relapse. Being around a loved one who also struggles with drug abuse can put your sobriety in jeopardy. Even though you want your friend or family member in your life, they might be unsupportive of your sobriety or unwilling to treat their own addiction.
Sobriety is a journey, and you'll have to make decisions along the way to support and encourage your recovery — not hinder it. Here are some steps you can take to prevent a loved one's addictive behavior from affecting your recovery process.
Communication is the first step in continuing your addiction recovery after detox. It's important to be open and honest with the people in your life — including a family member with their own addiction. Tell them you're serious about your recovery and committed to your sobriety, and ask them to support you. Whether they're struggling with their own addiction or not, a real friend should encourage you and cheer you on — even if that means staying away from substances when you're around.
Let your friends and family know how they can help you avoid temptation, what you need and why they shouldn't take it personally if you have to take some time away.
When you're on the path to recovery, you'll have moments of weakness and moments of exposure to the substance you're avoiding — especially if a friend or family member struggles with alcohol or drug abuse. To keep you from relapsing in these moments, make sure to mentally prepare yourself, plan ahead and stay strong.
It might help to repeat a mantra like "I am clean, and I will stay clean" or "I am strong enough to say no" or to think ahead to the consequences of relapsing. If your friend or family member is trying to push the substance on you, it's better to get some space from that person.
While your own health should be your first priority, encouraging your loved one to seek treatment can make a difference in both your life and theirs. Tell them how important your sobriety is to you, how you took the steps to get there and how it's changing your life. Maybe you can inspire them to make the change as well — but remember, you can't make someone get help if they aren't willing to.
You might decide that it's too hard to have a close relationship or continue a friendship with an addicted loved one who cannot support you. Rethinking your relationship doesn't mean you don't love this person — it means you have to take care of yourself first.
For your own mental health and recovery, you might have to take some time away — whether that means a temporary break until you feel stronger, a permanent break to lighten your load or less frequent visits. Replacing or supplementing this relationship with other, healthier relationships is a better way to succeed in your recovery process and achieve better mental health.
Above all else, remember to put yourself and your recovery first by finding a healthy balance in your life. Take attention and time away from your addiction by making new friends, joining new groups, investing more time in your career, pursuing healthy habits and spending quality time with supportive people. When you pursue a healthy, balanced lifestyle, your recovery process will become more natural and rewarding each day.