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The Benefits Of Unfriending Toxic Influences After Rehab

by Landmark Recovery

July 26, 2020
A woman sitting outdoors and thinking about toxic friends in her life


One of the hardest parts of staying clean after rehab and preventing relapse is saying goodbye to those friends who are not good for you and could trigger a relapse.


Unfortunately, relapse en route to successful recovery is very common. Between 40% and 60% of people who detox from drugs or alcohol at a rehab facility will relapse at some stage.


Ridding yourself of any addiction requires some seriously hard work. It also calls for you to make some tough choices. This could mean admitting that some of your oldest or closest friends are toxic to your recovery, especially if you used to drink or take drugs together, and that you need to cut ties with them.


Recovering from alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder is a demanding journey because you need to make such drastic changes to your life. When you have worked so hard to detox, you need to protect your efforts and surround yourself with supportive people. Everyone who goes through rehab needs to make these changes to ensure they maintain substance-free, and clinging to old and damaging behaviors is a shortcut to relapse.


After detoxing at a rehab facility, you need to remain firmly planted on a positive path forward. This is not easy, especially if the people around you create stress and drama in your life. Stress and negativity are proven triggers of relapse.


Cutting ties with anyone who stunts your recovery from drugs or alcohol will be the smartest decision you ever made. When you seek out fresh relationships with people who don’t bleed negativity, you’ll find keeping a positive frame of mind gets so much easier.


Who is your enemy as you grapple with recovery, then?


Toxic Friends

A woman sitting outdoors and thinking about toxic friends in her life

How can you establish which friends benefit your recovery and which ones act as a hindrance?


Unfortunately, this is not always obvious as some people can be manipulative and less than transparent.


Learn to identify toxic behaviors in other people, then educate and empower yourself. Equipped with this knowledge, cut toxic people off the moment you identify them. If spending time with someone leaves you drained, stressed, or in any way uncomfortable, they’re toxic for you.


Here’s a break-down of some general types of toxic people to avoid when in recovery:


  • Drug or alcohol users
  • Enablers
  • Guilt-Trippers
  • Blamers
  • Jealous People
  • Chronically Negative Individuals
  • Complainers
  • Verbal Abusers


Drug Or Alcohol Users

You’re likely to be easily triggered if you spend time with old friends you used to drink or take drugs with. Socializing with toxic influences is especially dangerous in the early stages of sobriety.


You’ll almost certainly encounter times when you’re bored and lonely, times when you would typically have indulged in drinks or drugs. Meeting up with old playmates can seem like a huge temptation. Resist this temptation at all costs. Following through on these thoughts will likely end in relapse.


Instead, double down and put into practice those important lessons you learned while in rehab.


Anyone who encourages you to drink or use drugs does not have your best interests at heart, they are toxic.


Enablers are often people who don’t like to see you in recovery as it makes them feel bad about their problem. By nudging you back into your old ways, this form of enabler then feels better about themselves.


Be firm with these people. They usually say, “Just the one won’t hurt.”


This alone could be incitement enough for you to buckle and attempt drinking or using drugs in moderation. Ask yourself how that worked out for you in the past.


Whatever the encouragement coming your way, refuse and politely excuse yourself. Feel under no obligation to explain yourself.



Sometimes, people manipulate you by making you feel guilty. This often happens without you being fully aware of it.


This is controlling behavior. This type of toxic person might make you feel like you owe them something to encourage a feeling of indebtedness. Alternatively, they might shame you for something you did long ago, even if this issue is long-resolved.


Any time you sit back and discover that someone is trying to control you with this type of manipulation, simply refuse to engage. This will declaw their guilt-tripping completely by denying them an audience.


Recovery demands certain sacrifices. Feel no guilt whatsoever as you scythe away all bad influences from your life.



Someone who blames you for things without accepting any of their own responsibility simply has no place in your life.


This type of person will undoubtedly bring stress and anxiety into your life. You don’t need this. When you attempt to defend yourself, they typically heap even more blame onto you. This person is draining and exhausting. Ditch them from your life and benefit without losing anything at all.


Jealous Individuals

Do you have a friend who is clearly disgruntled whenever you achieve something notable?


Perhaps you have a friend who gets ruthlessly competitive over the smallest things?


Jealousy in any form can create a wedge between you and cause unnecessary stress. You don’t need it in your life as you tentatively inch down the path to sustained recovery.


Eliminate jealous and bitter people from your life without hesitation. This type of friendship is inauthentic and unsupported anyway. You need to be around people who are happy for you when you achieve something. Don’t ever feel you need to apologize for insisting upon that.


Chronically Negative Individuals

It’s natural for everyone to feel down sometimes. That’s life. The thing is, being around someone who is always negative and continuously depressive is not good for your mental health.


Anyone who constantly rains on your parade with negativity is a poor fit when you’re looking to make the best of everything and to embrace a positive mindset. Don’t handicap yourself unnecessarily.



Someone who constantly moans about their life instead of making meaningful changes will drag you down with them.


Limit the time you spend around anyone who wallows in self-pity rather than taking action. People who play the victim but never take responsibility are generally self-absorbed. They don’t consider how their moaning impacts you. If they did consider this, they probably wouldn’t care.


Treat this sort of complainer with similar contempt. Cut them guiltlessly from your life. They’ll find someone else to complain at without too much trouble while you can focus on yourself and making decisive, impactful changes.


Verbal Abusers

Hypocrites who criticize you but don’t apply it to their own lives also create negativity.


People who endlessly criticize others do this because it deflects from their own inadequacies. By focusing on you and belittling you, a verbal abuser temporarily feels better about themselves. If someone belittles you, just ignore them completely. This type of verbal abuse is a pure reflection of them and not you.


OK, now you have identified a clutch of possible enemies to your recovery. How do you take action and ensure these unhelpful friends don’t derail your recovery, though?


How To Unfriend Toxic People

The simplest and most effective way to unfriend toxic people is to stop all contact.


Indeed, adopting any kind of middle-ground is unlikely to work. If someone is interfering with your recovery, they need excising from your life without apology.


What To Do Next

Seek out people with your best interests at heart. These people will not encourage you to drink or take drugs. They’ll also provide emotional support when you need it instead of weighing on you heavily themselves.


Trust your intuition. You know when a person is supportive because you feel energized in their company.


Surrounding yourself with supportive people is the best thing you can do to maintain a substance-free life once you’re away from the structure of rehab. You can find many peer support groups online if you are finding friends of the right sort are thin on the ground.


If you need help finding a drug or alcohol rehab, call the friendly team at Landmark Recovery on 888-448-0302.


recovery specialist available 24 hours a day at landmark recovery

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.