Expert Corner: Avoiding Friends Who Are a Negative Influence

Expert Corner QuestionSobriety isn’t new to me – my family is full of addicts to drugs and alcohol. Mostly, I didn’t hit the hard stuff, just drank some and smoked weed but even that was too hard and my life got crazy; I knew I had to get clean. Before this though, I was with someone I’d been friends with for over 10 years. We always used and drank heavily together. Now, I’m clean and he’s not. I’m trying to stay away, but he keeps finding me. I blocked him on all my accounts and my phone, but he won’t give up. He just showed up at my mom’s house looking for me at like 10 at night. My brother says I’m not there, but he won’t leave. My brother finally gives him some fake info so that’s he’ll just go. How do I tell him that I’ve moved on and don’t want to be a part of that life? He isn’t the most stable person and he might be dangerous if I tell him straight out.
[clearfix] Elevate Expert AnswerWhile it may be uncomfortable, you really do have to get it through to him that you have to separate from him. It is of utmost importance for sobriety to have clear and firm boundaries in relationships and it is your right to decide who to have in your life.

Over the years, I’ve found that writing a letter (or email, message, etc) is the best way to do this. The reason is because you can say what you want to say without interruption from the other person. You can also make sure you are communicating your intentions clearly without emotion, so that you don’t say something you don’t mean.

Expert Corner - Avoiding Friends that UseI suggest that in the letter you don’t try to point out that the other person is bad or wrong or a problem. You can try to keep it pleasant, but firm. Try to rationalize with the person he is deep down inside, even if he is currently unstable or suffering. A brief example may be something like: “We had good times in the past and I know you are a good person, but I need to move on with my life without you. This means I’m asking you to stop trying to contact me and am asking that you respect my decision. I wish you good luck in your life and I hope the best for you.”

In the above example, there was no blaming of the other person and in fact was a validation that they are good, followed by a clear, firm message. Of course every relationship is different, but this is a generally workable way to handle something like this.

Good job for having the courage to set the boundaries you need in your life.

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2 thoughts on “Expert Corner: Avoiding Friends Who Are a Negative Influence”
  1. whoever asked this question, i want to tell them kudos for cutting someone toxic out of your life. hard thing to do. good luck.

  2. What I find is that my parents can automatically tell when one of my friends is a bad influence. If my parents are discouraging my hanging out with them, I know it is for a good reason and that they are probably not a good friend to hang out with.

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