How Toxic Relationships Can Poison Your Recovery From Substance Abuse

March 3, 2021
How Toxic Relationships Can Poison Your Recovery

Elevate Addiction Services understands the enormous role family and friends play in addiction. Many people contribute to patterns of substance abuse, and some do not realize the negative impact they have on others.

It’s vital for everyone struggling with substance abuse to identify the toxic relationships in their lives and overcome them, either by restructuring the relationship or keeping a healthy distance.

Toxic relationships are incredibly dangerous. Not only can they contribute to a substance abuse problem in the first place, but they can also prolong an addiction, or increase the chances of relapse.

Addiction Recovery Is About Rebuilding Yourself

Substance abuse recovery requires a daily commitment to sobriety. After feeling the effects of addiction, choosing to enter recovery is not a one-and-done decision. Once you complete detox, it will be up to you to maintain a healthier lifestyle, and every day will be a new challenge.

Toxic relationships can negatively influence your recovery in many ways. In some situations, they may tempt a newly sober person back into old habits, leading to relapse. In other cases, toxic personalities can interfere with your decision to seek treatment in the first place.

Understanding Toxic Influences

Although the word “toxic” has a negative connotation, it’s vital to recognize that toxic people aren’t inherently bad. Some simply cannot interact in constructive ways, or may be unintentionally influencing dangerous behaviors.

During recovery, you learn to identify your triggers and the underlying reasons you started using substances in the first place. Throughout the recovery process, you will learn new coping strategies and problem-solving techniques so you can handle triggers and cravings effectively and constructively. Toxic influences make this more difficult.

Some people become toxic influences through good intentions. One of the most common ways a close friend or relative can become toxic is pushing you through your recovery too quickly. Although they may believe they are being supportive and encouraging, recovery requires an individualized approach.

This process takes time for everyone, and some may attempt to push you back toward “normalcy,” or rebuilding parts of your life you are not yet ready to address.

Anyone Can Be Toxic

Even the closest loved ones can be toxic influences. Parents, spouses, even children of people struggling with substance abuse can be toxic. Remember, it may not even be due to anything these people do specifically, but rather your own interpretations of their behavior or the feelings they conjure within you.

Recovery is a personal process that requires you to strip down to your bare self and rebuild, and anyone who makes this more difficult for you is a toxic influence.

Staying Strong in Recovery

After completing rehab and restarting your normal life, sobriety requires a daily commitment. Anyone who interferes with this, knowingly or not, creates a toxic influence.

It’s imperative that you build a support network of people who are genuinely committed to helping you in your new sober lifestyle. Old friends, past relationships and even other family members can hold you up.

Set Healthy Boundaries With Potentially Toxic Influences

If other people in your life present a danger to your sobriety, it is best to set healthy boundaries with these individuals. Some may not believe you can make it through sobriety, and their negativity can be contagious. Others may actively try to sabotage your recovery.

It’s OK to be somewhat selfish during recovery; it is about you, after all. Don’t shy away from limiting contact with negative influences.

Explore New Ways To Enjoy Life

If your substance abuse involved friends you now avoid, it can be tempting to relapse into old bad habits simply to fit in and find social acceptance again. However, no amount of social interaction is worth the damage that substance abuse inflicts on your body and mind.

Take the time to make new connections with people who positively influence you and help you maintain your commitment to sober living. Recovery may seem alien and even hopeless at first, but over time you’ll find new ways to enjoy life and make new connections.

Don’t Be Afraid to Focus on Yourself

After completing rehab, you’re likely to face many temptations and toxic influences in your everyday life. If you complete your recovery at Elevate in Northern California, the support you receive from us does not end when you go home. You’ll still have access to ongoing aftercare services and our network of alumni who are always willing to offer constructive support and guidance.

It can be difficult to distance yourself from people who used to mean a great deal to you, but if these people threaten your recovery – knowingly or not – you’ll come out of rehab with techniques on setting healthy boundaries and interacting with them only on the right terms.

This page does not provide medical advice
Written by Elevate Addiction Services | © 2021 Elevate Addiction Services | All Rights Reserved

Medically Reviewed by

Tim Sinnott, LMFT LAADC

December 1, 2020

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