How to Stay Sober if a Friend Relapses
The journey through recovery is one with many ups and downs, and while very personal, also requires a strong network of friends and supporters who are there for you when times get tough. You may lean heavily on your community of like-minded individuals to stay clean, yet when one of your friends, a relative, your sponsor, or another person you see often at meetings or other sober gatherings relapses, it can have a profound effect on your sobriety. So, how can you stay sober if a friend relapses?
Having strong relationships and social networks that provide love and support are vital to your commitment to recovery. When a member of this fellowship slips, it can be incredibly challenging to stay the course in your own sobriety. Here are some important ways you can keep your sobriety intact during such a tumultuous time.
Find an Outlet and Stay Sober if a Friend Relapses
During a time when you might feel like staying clean is a challenge, find a way to channel your energy and emotions into something else. Much like you did when you first became sober, replacing your old substance abuse habit with a new habit can provide an outlet and shift your focus. This outlet can be anything from reading books to journaling to an exercise regime. Whatever helps you to find your center and get rid of negative feelings can truly deliver relief during this fraught time.
Reach Out to Your Support Network
As mentioned above and as you know well during your recovery, having a support network is essential to your sobriety. Lean on these people you can trust during this difficult and overwhelming time. Share your feelings, and get things off your chest that are weighing on you. Bottling it in can lead to more negative thoughts, but letting it out can aide in working through them so they don’t consume you.
Know your Triggers while Staying Focused
Knowing your triggers can help you avoid them or at least deal with them when they arise. Maybe your trigger is seeing your friend who has relapsed. If that is the case, it is best to keep your distance while still showing support through cards or messages of encouragement (more on that later).
Stay attuned to anything that might become a new trigger for you during this time. Some common triggers include:
- Relationship stress
- Emotional distress
- Cues in your environment that spark cravings
- Financial issues
- Problems at work
- Being around people who are drinking or using drugs
Note your old triggers and new ones that have popped up. Simply recognizing them can help you to steer clear, especially when you are feeling vulnerable as you witness a friend’s shaky sobriety.
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Stay Active and Busy
Avoid focusing on your friend’s problems and the urge to fall into your old habits by keeping a full calendar. Too much time to sit around can lead to thoughts and actions that jeopardize your clean and healthy way of life. Being overscheduled can also have the same effect, so it’s important to strike a balance. Don’t schedule every single minute of your day, but ensure that you’re staying engaged in your daily life and not sinking into a dark place because you are worried about your friend, or giving in to negative thoughts that could lead to a relapse.
You may need to keep a safe distance from your friend, but you can still offer support in other ways without exposing yourself to harm. Offer to put your friend in touch with your sponsor or another sober friend who has experience helping others get back on track. Or, invite them to attend a meeting with you. Showing that you care without getting too involved can do wonders for them, as well as for you.
Take Care of YOU to Stay Sober If a Friend Relapses
Many addicts have a codependent nature and want to get more involved than can be healthy to help their friend or loved one who has relapsed. However, the best thing you can do is take care of yourself. Follow the above tips, focus on your own mental and physical health, and set a positive example for your friend. Seeing you thrive even during tough situations can be just the influence they need to get back on the path towards recovery.
Contact Clear Life Recovery if you are struggling with your sobriety. We're here to help.