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maintaining non-sober friendshipsNow that you are sober, your life has probably changed immensely. Everything in life, like your daily routine, food habits, and fun activities you enjoy, probably looks different. You did the hard work to face your addiction, and now you are reaping the benefits. Everyone in your support system is proud of the progress you have made and the steps you have taken to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Now that you are sober, you have probably noticed that you have friends and family members who are not sober. There is a good chance you have taken the steps necessary to remove unhealthy relationships from your life. But what about the healthy ones that remain? You can have a healthy relationship with someone who is not entirely sober. It could be a grandmother having a glass of wine during Christmas dinner or your father opening a beer during the football game. Drinking in that manner is not the same as going to a wild college party. You may even have friends who still drink but are caring and supportive.

Learning to manage relationships is a big part of the recovery process. Maintaining healthy relationships is something you will probably have to work on throughout your life for many years. Learning to maintain relationships with people who are not sober is sometimes difficult and uncomfortable at first. Here are a couple of tips for starting the process.

Set Boundaries

A simple and effective way to help maintain relationships and friendships with those not sober is to create healthy boundaries. If someone is in your life, they need to know what you need from them. They will not be able to “just know” what you are comfortable with, what makes you uneasy, or what triggers you. Those are very personal issues, and people will not instinctively know our boundaries.

It may be hard at first to be open about what triggers you. For some of us, we feel weak when we admit to our family and friends that a particular action makes us uneasy. We want to be strong enough not to let anything affect us, but that is unrealistic. Someone could be sober for many years and still find that certain situations and actions negatively affect them.

Having boundaries in place will prevent you from finding yourself in situations that you cannot handle. If those around you know what you do and do not feel comfortable with, they will make sure not to take out the alcohol around you, bring around that substance, or even that unhealthy person. Setting boundaries is also a great way to better understand who is your support system. If someone is unwilling to accept the limits you have in place for your protection, then they are not someone you want or need in your life.

Work on Your Triggers

Everyone has been triggered by one thing or another. The task of working on your triggers will probably never be over. Growing and learning is an essential part of life. Our triggers can easily change. What triggered us at the beginning of treatment could easily be different as we end our treatment. What triggered us as we were newly sober is probably different than what triggers us five years later. Knowing what our triggers are is essential to maintaining our life of sobriety. Change is inevitable, and being able to be flexible is a skill needed in life.

As our friends change and as life progresses, we will need to continue to work with our triggers to maintain our health. New people may present new situations. We may meet an amazing and great person, but for some reason, they trigger us in a new and unexpected way. That does not mean we cannot be friends with them. They probably do not intend to trigger us. They may not even know about our past.

Facing new challenges is where all of your hard work comes into play. You worked extremely hard on your sobriety. You learned to be flexible and accept growth. Now when you are faced with new things, you know exactly how to handle them.

Maintaining relationships with non-sober individuals does not have to be difficult. If a relationship is worth it, you will spend the time learning how to make it work for everyone. Understanding your triggers will be an essential component in situations out of your control with people who may not know your past.

Working to face your addiction was an admirable undertaking. It took many hard and difficult days to work through underlying mental health conditions, trauma, and addiction. Everyone within your support system is immensely proud of you. Now that you live a sober life, you will need to learn to live and connect with people who are not sober. Sometimes we had great relationships with people before working on our addiction that we want to maintain after treatment. That is okay and perfectly normal. Creating healthy boundaries is one way to keep those relationships. Being upfront and honest with those around you is necessary for others to understand how you feel about specific activities and situations. No one will automatically know what you need, and learning to speak up is a crucial part of maintaining your long-term recovery. Here at The Guest House, we know it can be hard to work through these situations independently. We are always here to help, regardless of where you are in your recovery. Call us today to learn more about how we can support you at (855) 483-7800.