Friends in recovery have played a number of roles throughout the journey to finding out what I have wanted in life. I have been blessed with a large number of friends I have made along my own path to recovery. They have been pillars of strength when I was feeling very low and they have been solid support when I’ve been feeling great. They have seen me at my absolute best and – unfortunately and fortunately – they have seen me and been there for me during my struggles with alcohol as well.
It can sometimes be hard to maintain connections with old friends once someone decides they no longer want to live a life where substances take up a big piece of one’s time and energy. For me, I had pushed a lot of my friends away through my alcohol use and only kept around a few who I felt would not judge me for my drinking. Needless to say, I had to look for healthy people to have in my life once I made a decision to no longer use alcohol as a sort of crutch anymore. I found this through meetings I attended and through recovery-related activities I would attend.
I didn’t necessarily have to agree with one’s method of recovery –whether it was AA, NA, Smart Recovery, Life Ring etc. –to be able to build a strong bond with someone. Fighting through substance misuse can create an incredibly strong bond and it’s a bond which cannot be built with someone who hasn’t been through this battle themselves. Much like someone who has never been to war can’t truly understand it or someone who has never had to face racism will not truly know what it’s like to face it; fighting substance misuse is a struggle that is hard to grip for someone who hasn’t been through it.
This isn’t to discredit people who work in the field and haven’t faced substance problems. There is much valuable research and understanding of what addiction is on a grand scale. I’ve just personally found it can be helpful to hear the words, “Yes, I understand. I’ve felt that way too.”
Without even really being aware of it… one day I looked around and realized that most of my close friends were people who have been through the struggle of addiction. I still had some friends who hadn’t and it makes for a good balance in my life. My friends have been there to talk me through cravings. My friends have been there to pick me back up after I relapsed. My friends have been there day in and day out in their own way. It’s only with a bit of reflection and examination that I am reminded how lucky I am to have these people in my life.