One of the many purposes of drug rehab is to help the addicted person to identify his triggers for relapse. People, places, events and certain situations – any of these can create stress or cause anger, grief, frustration or depression, which in turn can cause an addicted person to feel pushed to get high or drink.
When your addicted loved one identifies those people that can lead him to want to use drugs – and he comes up with a plan to avoid them or minimize time with them – he can improve his chances of finding lasting recovery.
Drug Users and Suppliers
It should go without saying that anyone who formerly supplied your loved one with drugs is someone to avoid in recovery. Whether or not they’ve changed their ways or promise not to supply your loved one in the future, to your addicted loved one, they will always bring up memories of being their old dealer. Just coming into contact regularly with this person means that your family member will always know that they can easily get their drug of choice.
In the same way, if they routinely got drugs from a friend or an acquaintance as a gift, then it’s best to avoid contact with them as well. Though cutting off contact with suppliers doesn’t eliminate access to illicit substances, it does put one more obstacle between your loved one and quick access to illicit substances.
Friends in Addiction
Relationships that are based on getting high or drunk are not healthy or functional relationships in any context and certainly not when one of the people is in recovery. If your loved one comes across an old friend at a 12-Step meeting or finds out that they are in recovery too, then it may be a relationship that can be salvaged, but it’s important to go slow and make sure that that person is truly on firm ground before spending too much time together. Being together again can trigger one – or both people – to get high or drink because of the memories. If the person is still drinking or getting high in any amount, however, it’s best to maintain distance.
There are some people who encourage addictive behavior by enabling their loved one. This can happen when someone:
- Purchases drugs or alcohol for the addicted person
- Gives them money, pays their rent or other bills, or in any way frees up the addicted person’s cash flow to pay for drugs
- Offers solutions when the consequences of the addicted person’s drug use become problematic (e.g., making excuses to their boss when they don’t come into work due to drug use, etc.)
- Continually creates boundaries around the addicted person’s behaviors but does not follow through with consequences when the addicted person continues those behaviors
Often, this is a well-meaning parent, sibling, spouse/partner or close relative, so it can be difficult to create space in these relationships. In many cases, the right education for the previously enabling person, and guidance from a family counselor with addiction treatment and recovery experience, can help to put this relationship on the right track.
It’s not just people from the past who should be avoided in recovery. Anyone with whom the addicted person has a long history of discord should be avoided as well – for the short term, at least – until the addicted person has a chance to become more grounded in sobriety. Working on the problems caused in important relationships during addiction is important, but if the person is unwilling or unable to heal, it may be best to avoid them in recovery.
Interventions in Recovery
If your addicted loved one is spending large amounts of time with people who are bad for their recovery, it can signal their recovery is in danger. Staging an intervention that helps your family member get the help necessary to stop a full return to addiction may be warranted. Contact us now to find out how we can help.
Further Reading About People to Avoid on the Road to Recovery
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton