How to Handle Negativity From Family and Friends While in Recovery

February 18, 2022

The journey from addiction to recovery is a long road, and for most people it’s a lifelong balancing act to maintain healthy habits and avoid any triggers or relapses. But from the first day you begin working towards a healthier lifestyle, there is a lot to be proud of - it’s no easy task turning your life around and you deserve all the credit for the hard work you’re putting in to make it happen.

However, for your friends and family, this time of change may represent a different type of challenge, as many may not understand the difficulties you’re facing or the reasons behind this drastic change to your habits and goals. 

1. Nourish all positive relationships with open communication

There are a few possible problems you may run into with family and friends regarding your recovery journey that can be managed through communication and patience. The first one - and probably the best and easiest one - is well-meaning loved ones who don’t know how to speak or act when it comes to your recovery. Whereas common conversation topics may have included drinking or drug use, and popular gatherings might have regularly included alcohol, these topics and outings may feel taboo, and without an understanding of your mindset and needs, they may lead to awkwardness or discomfort.

To mitigate this issue, the best thing to do is communicate your comfort level with discussing or being around any substances. For some people, talking about the craziest thing they’ve done under the influence may be fine, while for others it can be triggering. The same goes for excursions to bars or holiday parties that revolve around booze; for one, non-alcoholic alternatives can help curb any cravings, while for others, it may be too tempting. Whatever you’re feeling or need, communicate that clearly to your loved ones to eliminate any issues from the start.

2. Let go of all negative influences

Another common problem that is more difficult to manage is negative reactions from family and friends when you share information about your recovery. Whether those responses are coming from a place of frustration or doubt in your ability to make such a major lifestyle change, or disappointment that you’ll no longer be using substances socially, they can really hurt to hear and cause you to doubt yourself.

In many cases, time will ease the complexity of these relationships and assure family and friends of your intent. But if you continue to feel tempted to fall back into old habits due to negative influences in your life, it’s important to consider cutting ties - even temporarily - for the sake of your mental and physical wellbeing. In all likelihood, you will have many supportive and encouraging people in your corner, so put more of your time and energy into those relationships instead. 

3. Educate yourself so that you can feel empowered in your responses

It’s a hard thing to face questions and misunderstandings about addiction and recovery from those that you love, even if they come with good intentions. To handle these situations with confidence, the easiest thing is to start by educating yourself about the benefits of healthy habits when it comes to recovery and the positive impact these changes will have on your life overall.

For instance, those who refrain from substance use and incorporate exercise and nutrition into their lives often sleep better, have more energy, and are generally happier than those who abuse substances. Knowing these facts will help you answer most queries that come your way, but it’s also important to remember that you are under no obligation to explain yourself or your choices. Recovery is a highly personal journey, and it’s up to you to decide what to share, when, and with whom.

4. Remember your reasons for recovery

Even with these tips and strategies in place, it’s only natural to have moments of weakness or doubt. Recovery is HARD WORK and is a daily process - not just a one-and-done task - that requires your full commitment and attention to be successful. On the contrary, in some ways addiction can feel simpler, as there is often a lack of accountability for your actions and no need to retrain your mind to follow healthier habits instead.

In these moments, it is critical that you remember why you are in recovery. Everyone’s reasons will be different, but whether it’s to improve your mental or physical health, to repair important relationships, or simply because you’re ready to try another way, those initial motivators are the key to making it through any challenges and staying focused on moving forward, instead of backward. Write them on a Post It, journal about them, whatever works - just keep your why top of mind and you’ll be in a better headspace to tackle anything that comes your way.

5. Reward yourself for navigating this challenge

At the end of the day, battling back negativity can be exhausting, and you need to make sure there are positive aspects of your recovery to ensure that you remain consistent and dedicated. One surefire way to maintain healthy habits and find joy in the process is through regular rewards, and that’s what Oberit is here for. 

When you journal about your why or make time to talk regularly with encouraging family and friends, Oberit rewards you for staying on track and making it through any tough times by following a routine. With an in-app marketplace that offers discounts on sober-friendly and wellness products such as Breathwrk, Mocktail Club, and Real Eats, it’s never been easier to meet your recovery milestones with Oberit by your side. 

Having a support system during recovery is incredibly important, and it can be devastating to find that some people don’t understand or are less than encouraging during such a challenging time. But you are the writer of your own story, and it’s up to you to set boundaries and manage your relationships in the way that is most beneficial to you. So next time someone questions your motivations or makes you feel anything other than positive about your recovery journey, remember these tips and keep moving forward towards a healthier and happier you.

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