Cutting Toxic People Out of Your Life in Recovery

There’s no question about it, part of living a healthy life in recovery means making sure you don’t have toxic people in your life. Whether you’re in early recovery or you’re a long-standing citizen in the recovery community, you already know that getting sober wasn’t an easy road to travel. You had to fight your way there and learn how to live in a new, healthy way. Making amends and moving forward with your new healthy life can be more complex than one might think. One aspect some people don’t realize will come up in recovery is cleaning out your community of friends and ending toxic relationships. 

Ending any relationship isn’t the most fun thing you’ll be tasked with but ending toxic relationships can sometimes be even more difficult. If you’re uncomfortable with confrontation you might be keeping people in your life that don’t truly serve a purpose or have a real place in your life anymore. If you’ve got a friend who makes you feel uneasy, or who you feel guilty around, or you’re just not able to share exciting recovery related news with, it might be a sign that person needs to go. 

Other relationships you may want to end may even include new friends you met while in recovery who have fallen off the path or chosen a different way than you. It’s hard to let anyone go but you must stand up for your own well-being first and ensure that your own recovery stays on stable ground. If that means that you can no longer be around certain people, then that’s something you’ll want to come to terms with and deal with sooner rather than later. 

Recovery means choosing a better life for yourself, that includes who you surround yourself with and you let affect your life. If you know that someone only adds negativity to your life, give it some thought and think about parting ways to maintain the positivity you need to keep moving in the right direction. 

Lockinger, R. “Taking Out the Trash: Toxic Relationships in Sobriety”. Shannonegan. (Website). September 2016

  • 11 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • Oh yes, it is important to cut toxic people out of the life. I mean, maybe not completely, especially if it's family or close friend....but boundaries need to be set and enforced.

    Toxic people suck the energy right out of you... and can cause a lot of mayhem. Have a real heart-to-heart with someone you believe is toxic... let them know you need some space or you need to cut the relationship entirely. Tell them the truth, but in a kind way. If they are needy and are draining the life out of you, tell them. If they are mean...and make you feel horrible...tell them. If they are the kind that always ask you for, favors, a place to stay, etc. tell them you don't want that energy in your life anymore. let them know you're trying to stay on the up and up.  

    Might do that person good to hear that their behavior is affecting someone in a negative way. Maybe they will take a good look at that and decide to make some changes!
  • Out with the old, and in with the new.

    It's hard at first to walk away from your comfort zone of people who you are familiar with.  However, it is worth it to leave toxic people because you love yourself more than the toxic people, and you love yourself enough to trust that new people who are not toxic will enter your life.
  • What if it's a spouse? What if my husband is doubting my recovery? He keeps saying "Three weeks is nothing." and "I am not going to praise you for behavior you SHOULD have been doing this whole time."..

    He has insisted that I keep "acknowledging" the negative impact of my past behavior (which means constant apologies) but will not accept any responsibility in the detachment or strain in our marriage. He says I am blaming him, but I really just want him to own his (lack of) contribution in our marriage, too.

    A sober head has given me a lot of clarity these past few weeks! And it ain't pretty! :(
  • Idk if this is why mine ditched me when he went to rehab or not. I always tried to be a positive influence on him and encourage and uplift and live with integrity. But that was sober me. In active addiction, we was full of spite and retaliation. When he was lying to me about where he was and I found him in a motel full of floozies, i absolutely went beserk and was gonna take on everyone at that motel and he found that to be good reason to continue spiting and hurting me months afterward. I guess all people in active addiction are toxic.
  • @krs10... I don't think that all people in active addiction are necessarily toxic. Some definitely are, though. It's hard to say why your partner ditched you. It could be that he's just working through a lot of sh*t and needs some space for a while. In any case, I think you should focus on taking good care of yourself.
  • I realize this is sort of an old post, but I was just cruising through after a bit of being gone from the site and saw this.
    I've been totally sober for almost 10 months, it would have been over a year but I had one drink and started over. Anyway, I am in the process of leaving my husband. I don't know where it will lead, I am prepared to be separated for a while, but I know that the relationship is done with as far as a marriage goes. I still care about him and hope that one day we can still be friends, but if that isn't possible because he is going to probably be really angry when I tell him I am leaving (again), I am prepared for that too.
    I just can't find the right way to do this, and I have been keeping this from him for several weeks and feel like a total liar because I have been. I signed a lease and have a place to go, but I have nothing there except a humidifier/difusser. I want to get my thing from the house, but at the same time I don't want to shock him with that. But I am worried if I tell him he may hold my stuff hostage. I guess I am not really worried about that as much, I can still probably get it when he goes out of town in a few weeks.
    I don't know what I am looking for here. I guess I am just saying it, hoping that someone has something to advise me on from their past or something. I know I have to do this on my own and all.
    Ok, well, also, hello again. Sorry its been so long.
  • It's nice to hear from you, @scwerl. And congrats on your 10 months of sobriety. That's WONDERFUL!

    I'm sorry hear that you're separating from your husband, but if it's going to make YOUR life better, then that's a good thing. I wish I had some advice for you, but I don't. Maybe someone else can weigh in with some thoughts on this subject for you. There are lots of strong women here (@Drained1, @arcshines, @dominica, @tiredmom, and others).

    I'm proud of you for doing what you're doing, because I know it's not easy. I hope you can get your stuff and get settled in your new place without incident.

    Sending love, hope, and hugs your way. <3
  • @scwerl CONGRATS on 10 months of sobriety!! That's truly awesome!! So proud of you. I've been where you are and it's so tough. If you have to, get little things a little at a time to take to you new place... and btw CONGRATS on that as well!! That is HUGE!! Like seriously! You are going to take some time to adjust but once you do and it's YOUR PLACE and there is no drama surrounding your life daily it's going to be so worth it. I left my ex a few times, packed up and just left. But it took several weeks to get the courage to do it each time. Finally things would hit a breaking point and I was just done. This last time it took me forever to tell him to leave. This last time we were still in the place I had gotten the previous time when I left. I refused to continue losing everything each time he would relapse.

    Please keep us posted and know you have lots of support here and people that are cheering for you!! @tiredmom
  • @scwerl I just saw your post and realized your post was from March 4th. I'm sorry I didn't see it sooner. Congrats on the 10 months sobriety! That's great. I'm not sure what all has happened in the last 10 days. Were you able to get your things and move on your own? I hope everything went well for you if you did, and again I am sorry I didn't see your post sooner. Would like to help if I can. Hope all is well.
  • Sorry for the delay in updating. I have been in the process of moving things and trying to let go of guilt. I am doing ok, i have moments of weariness, but mostly I am ok. I have a really good support system with my sponsor and group of friends. Its been a long road and still so much more to come. But I have guilt and i am afraid to open up and be honest with my feelings with the people around me who i know i can trust and rely on. But I dont know why I am like this, or how to improve on it. A work in progress, and still in progress. I haven't given up and have no intention to do so! I am going to make it, I just dont know how. :)
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