Navigating Unsupportive Family and Friends in Recovery

Published On: April 20, 20164 min read803 wordsCategories: Addiction Treatment And Rehab
When you make the decision to make big changes following addiction recovery, it takes massive amounts of courage. It’s challenging, frightening and literally life-changing. During this time, it makes sense that you would want a community of people around you, helping you out of your current situation, supporting your decisions and celebrating your victories. 
For some, this is their reality – they are blessed with a supportive community as they navigate the road of recovery. For others, however, a challenging aspect of their recovery is their family and friends. So how do you deal with unsupportive spouses, family members and/or friends? How do you pursue a supportive community while realizing the importance of distance from other, non-supportive people? 

Be prepared for unsolicited advice

Especially in post-treatment, you are likely to encounter a lot of differing opinions and suggestions about what next steps you should take. Even after detox (usually the first step in recovery), people will have thoughts on where you should seek additional mental health treatment. They might offer suggestions about where you should live, what job you should look for, etc.

While it might feel unsolicited, remember—these people want the best for you. They might not be supportive if you don’t take their advice about who to live with, but at the end of the day, you are the only person who can truly determine what you need. Talk with your therapist, stick to your treatment plan and listen to your gut—these will help guide you to where you need to go next in recovery.

Recognize that “doing you” might leave people offended

Anyone who used to partake in substance use with you (be it friends, family or significant others) are probably not going to be supportive of your choice to seek recovery. You might encounter a lot of resistance from them since your choices will inadvertently challenge theirs. It will be crucial to your recovery to let go of relationships that threaten your success.

While you don’t want to abandon everyone just “like that,” you should consider taking a hard look at relationships that could lead to a relapse.

Take the time to talk with them

We all know what it’s like to live with regret. Your friends and family will better understand your choices when you take the time to explain your journey, the impact it had on you and the reason you’re seeking a fresh start. Remind them of how important this is to you. If you want to, share your vision and your dreams for what your life will look like free from addiction and all its avenues. By speaking from a personal place, you may find they are more supportive of you making big life changes.

Take a break

After you’ve shared your views and ideas with friends and family, give them time to process it all. You might find that after a day or two, they’ll come around to your ideas. Everyone needs time to think things through and get their thoughts together. This is one of those times. After you explain your ideas, give them the needed time to process them.  They may or may not come to the conclusion of supporting you, but at least they have a better understanding of why you’re making these choices for yourself.

Answer questions

Undoubtedly, the people you talk to are going to have questions. Let them ask, expressing their concerns and thoughts. Do your best to answer each question in a way that helps them understand your perspective.

Giving them time to process and ask questions, or even express thoughts and concerns will show them you want their support and that you respect their opinions. It’s a good way to give everyone time to think positively about the situation, no matter how they feel about it. Your loved ones don’t want to be unsupportive—odds are they’re just worried about you.

Additional support in your recovery journey

No matter how hard you try, it’s likely you will meet some resistance and strong opinions as you make these changes in your life. Whether you choose to move away and get a fresh start, or simply switch jobs and install a healthy routine in your life, you’re going to encounter people who seek to impose their thoughts; regardless of whether they’re being unsupportive or just seeking to offer the best for you, it can feel tiring to manage both your new life in recovery and the opinions of others.

Thankfully, help is available. If you are looking for support for yourself, information for family and friends or a community of people with goals and experiences similar to your own, Freedom Detox is here to help. To speak with someone today, call Freedom Detox at 800-475-2312 or contact us online.

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