Substance Abuse Recovery and Toxic Relationships


EIS 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, by restructuring the relationship, keeping a healthy boundaries, and much more. The problem is, since people have allowed themselves to get to this place, they likely have no idea how to make and keep boundaries, etc.

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. You achieve sobriety one day, sometimes one minute at a time.

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, as they know no other healthy coping mechanisms, or how to genuinely deal with relationships in healthy ways. 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. The addicted party may well be the “toxic” one, blaming t he other for their toxicity.

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. Therefore if you attempts sobriety without dealing with the underlying brokenness in yourself, an the other you are only dealing basically with the symptoms of dysfunction.

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, operating out of codependency. Although they may believe they are being supportive and encouraging, recovery requires an individualized approach. Conversely, the significant other may enable the addicted one to continue through the same codependency.

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, children of people struggling with substance abuse can be toxic. Adult children of addicted people are usually suffering as well as the addicted parent. 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. (Self-Care)

Don’t Be Afraid to Focus on Yourself

After completing rehab, or perhaps entering a 12 Step Recovery pathway, you’re likely to face many temptations and toxic influences in your everyday life.

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.

It’s important, if not imperative, to have a “sponsor”, a mentor, counselor, to provide safety and accountability as you progress. Ask God to help as you cannot achieve true lasting sobriety on your own. Coming to the “end of yourself” is the place to go to surrender.

BH/ Adapted: Elevate Rehabilitation

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