There is an African proverb that goes, “Sharing the road with friends divides your sorrows and multiples your joys.”  You may find this to be especially true as you  begin the road to recovery from addiction.  Learning how to live without an addiction can be a very hard process, that can make the world feel like a strange place.  When you feel your own strength failing, or you feel overwhelmed, having people with you can offer support and encouragement that can get you through hard times.  Two of the biggest triggers for relapse are boredom and loneliness, and these are both things against which friendship can be the best protection. It will not be helpful for you to simply go back to your old relationships with other addicts.

So instead, here are a few people who can become your friend and offer essential support as you begin your recovery.

1) A Friend Who Is Experienced In Recovery

It may be easy to feel like your experiences of addiction and the struggle of recovery are unique, and that you are all alone in facing what you are dealing with. However, the deeply comforting truth is that many other people have faced these same issues before you.  Honest contact with people who have been sober for a long time is essential. They can help to guide you, giving you practical advice and warning you of potential pitfalls, since they understand what you going through.  They can also offer you hope and encouragement that recovery is possible.

2) A Friend Going Through Recovery With You

You also will benefit from partners going through the journey of recovery with you, facing similar issues. These mutually beneficial relationships can be deeply empowering, as you find ways to practice self-examination and honesty with each other, encouraging each other to journey in recovery together.  One of the best ways to find these relationships is by becoming a part of a recovery support group, where you can meet lots of people who will share their stories of addiction and recovery, allowing you to connect further with someone whose story you may particularly identify with.

3) A Friend Who Will Listen and Not Be Judgmental

Recovery can bring up a lot of hard feelings.  Formally, the things you were addicted to could offer a way to bury or ignore your hard feelings, your stressful moments, or trauma from your past.  Now, without the pain-numbing sensation of drugs, you may find a lot of issues bubbling up to the surface. While some of these things might need the professional guidance of a therapist, a friend can also be immensely helpful simply by giving you a safe space to talk through your feelings, and simply listening and supporting you.

4) A Friend Who Can Challenge You To Keep Your Commitment To Recovery

Many people who fall into particular addictions may have deeper-rooted issues of what is called an “addictive personality.” Unexamined impulses towards thrill-seeking and compulsive behavior may drive you to commit dangerous and unpleasant actions in an effort to get your next “fix.”

Sometimes these strong pulls can be so overpowering that it’s really difficult to conquer them yourself, and you may respond by burying the truth of your behavior behind layers of denial.  A true friend will help you see past this denial, showing you the truth about yourself so that you can deal with your impulses openly and honestly, so they can be handled in a more intentional way.

5) A Friend With Whom You Can Find New Ways To Enjoy Life

However, this is not meant to suggest that recovery is all hard work and painful feelings. True recovery means learning how to un-learn the bad habits of addiction, and replace them with better habits of learning how to truly enjoy and live life to the fullest. Friends who can simply “hang out,” and encourage you to try new, fun activities, and people you can talk and laugh with, are extremely helpful in learning how to enjoy your new sober life.