The Reality of Keeping Old Friends

When I started drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, I had many friends that I spent time with during this lifestyle. I decided to make a change because I was not very happy with where my life was going. My life is mine to take responsibility for, so I don't blame any of my friends for how far I took drug abuse and alcoholism. Those were my mistakes to give account for. So many times we find that we move forward and have some of the greatest times of our lives when we stick to new roads, but often we are reminded not to burn bridges we have crossed. I love many of my old friends but i find it hard sometimes because just by being around them, while they still enjoy my former lifestyle, I'm often so tempted to just go at it for one night, because I'm stronger now. Once I had an ordeal where i went out with friends for just a 2 beer limit - just 2. I convinced myself that if I could control  myself and just stick to that limit it was a sure sign of growth and personal empowerment. Well, two led to almost a dozen. That feeling of guilt never left me.

The main reason I still have this guilt is because I don't want to let go of my friends like that, but I don't want the habits associated with hanging with them. Is it really realistic to keep our old friends and try to have new habits, without falling back into our old ways? While birds of a feather really do flock together, as the saying goes, is it really a situation of letting go my friends, as it will be the only way to stay clean and sober?
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  • @arthnel hello! good question. i think it will vary for each person. some may be able to do an occasional get together....but others might not be able to handle the temptation.

    maybe it will depend on how you are spending time together. to cultivate a relationship or friendship, quality time matters.  if you have certain friends you'd like to maintain ties with, maybe have dinner or do some activity that doesn't involve golf or hiking...or something...there are many ways to hang out without the need to have alcohol around.

    also, pick up some new friends who don't drink or rarely drink. set your sights on a new group of friends...i find it valuable to hang around with those that value life and celebrate life, but not solely with alcohol. the joy of life can be celebrated sober...

    hope this helps!
  • For me, when I decided I didn't want to be part of the excessive drinking anymore, the friends I have that were into drinking ridiculed me, really. They thought being 'cool' and drinking were one and the same thing -- and they just couldn't wrap their heads around the fact that wasn't a lifestyle I wanted. So yes, I had to step away. I don't even know where those people are at now (I'm not in the same town anymore) but honestly, I don't care. It might sound selfish but I put myself and my own health and wellbeing first - and I'm 100% okay with that.
  • I think you can still be able to keep your friends even though you are already going through recovery as long as you stay focused on your goal to be clean and sober for good. In my case, most of my friends are smoking cigrarettes and binge drinking, but we are still pretty close to one another. I just try to practice self-discipline all the time.
  • I think it's all part of human nature that we're drawn to others that like, and do the same thing as what we do, so if you like a drink and a smoke, its highly likely that your friends will aswell.

    The problem comes when you decide to change your ways and habits, all of a sudden you lose that connection you have with them, and while I think it IS still possible to keep your old friends, it requires a lot of self discipline to be able to be around that environment, and people often do break away from their old friends as they find it too hard.
  • Yes, it's difficult to break free from the cycle of dependency if you revisit old friends. You still share bonds and strong memories with them when you first started becoming hooked on those substances. The sad truth is that you have to cut ties with them if you want to come clean. It's just one of those realities of life that we disregard at our own peril. 
  • If they are good friends, support you and you feel thankful for having them as companions, don't let go of them. Instead, try to get used to the idea of being around people who drink, and are different than you in this way. I will tell you something: all of my friends drink and smoke. Some of them even do drugs such as marijuana, but I don't mind it. It's about training yourself to resist the temptations. Also, if you feel like you can't control your alcohol intake once you start drinking, order something non-alcoholic. Better safe than sorry. You will see that in time it will get better. It always does. Good luck!
  • Self discipline surely is going to be the key. It's just that sometimes our acquaintances easily erode what we have built up. One of the easiest ways  I've used to deal with this is to limit the amount of time I hang out with them. In the past I was a sure bet for being out on a Friday or Saturday, and now that's changed. If I feel like a hang out I will be there on my own terms, but don't be sure, like in the past, that I will be there.

    I'm also finding new ways to occupy my time to ease the withdrawal pain in my head when my mind tells me I have to do what I normally do or I'm going to be bored . So even if I go out on a weekend, I just end up going alone and gong to some place new. My mind finally kicked in to agreeing with my terms. So we really do have some ways to love and respect people from our past and still have control over our own future,
  • I have several friends that now consider me stand-offish because I just can't be around them. I care for them deeply and wish them all the happiness in the world, but the only thing we had in common were our addictions to alcohol. Now that I don't drink, not only do we not have anything in common, they still drink and I'd rather not have the constant temptation. I can't very well ask them not to drink around me as my choice to remain clean and sober is just that; my choice.

    I've met a few people, some recovering alcoholics like myself, and some just generally nice people that I like to hang out with that I actually have things in common with. I've found that in my journey, my need to only have positive interactions has been critical. It helps me to stay grounded and in a generally good place. These are the things I look for now, and it's helped me. I've hated having to cut ties with some of my friends because as I said, I care a great deal for them, but I/we have to do what's best for ourselves in regards to our recovery. Even if that means finding a new set of friends.
  • It's good that you came to the realization that your friends contributed to your problems but it wasn't entirely their fault. Most people addicted to substances are poor self reflectors. Good friends are hard to come by but I wouldn't consider anyone that jeopardizes your sobriety as someone you need to be hanging around with. 
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