Evaluating Your Relationships
As part of your treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, you’ll be asked to evaluate the relationships in your life and determine who should be a part of your sober support network.
Although you may instinctively realize that people who abuse drugs and alcohol are dangerous to associate with when you are newly sober, other relationships may be harder to evaluate. Use these six signs of a toxic relationship to help you decide how to proceed.
1. You Argue Constantly, But Never Solve Your Problems
No two people get along 100 percent of the time, but disagreements in a relationship shouldn’t be happening on a regular basis. It’s even worse if you’re constantly fighting about the same issues, whether it’s arguing with your spouse over who does more housework or yelling at a friend who never shows up on time for anything.
Fights that never accomplish anything are a sign of two potential problems: you may have simply grown apart over time or the other person may be addicted to drama and creating conflict out of pure boredom. In either case, the relationship is not going to be beneficial for your recovery.
Note that fighting should never involve acts of physical aggression. When someone pushes, kicks, shoves, or hits you, this rises to the level of abuse. If you’re being physically threatened, call 911 immediately.
2. You Get Blamed for Everything
People in recovery are often dealing with a great deal of guilt and shame regarding their past actions. If someone is constantly telling you everything that goes wrong is your fault, this may create a spiral of negative thoughts and feelings that leads to relapse.
Nobody is perfect. You may have made mistakes and hurt this person in the past. However, someone who isn’t willing to forgive you after a sincere apology and continues to blame you for things that aren’t your fault is exhibiting toxic relationship behaviors.
3. You’re Becoming Isolated from Other People in Your Life
A friend, family member, or romantic partner shouldn’t cut you off from having meaningful relationships with other people. If you’re always canceling plans with your friends to avoid upsetting your mother, have drifted apart from the friends your spouse doesn’t like, or find yourself avoiding people who don’t approve of your relationship with your loved one, this is a warning sign that should be taken seriously.
Your sober support network should include several different people who can help you in your journey towards healing your mind, body, and spirit. A relationship that diminishes the size of your support system is undoubtedly toxic.
4. Your Needs Aren’t a Priority
When you go out to eat, do they always pick the restaurant? When you have a bad day, are they too busy to listen to you vent? When you need a favor, can you count on their help?
Relationships are about give and take, but this doesn’t mean you should be doing all the giving. A healthy relationship involves compromise, so both people are getting their needs met. In times of crisis, one person may temporarily take center stage, but the goal is to strive for a balance of mutual support and respect. If you’re always deferring to what they want, your relationship is toxic.
5. You Don’t Feel Proud of Your Accomplishments
If your sibling shrugs when you proudly show off your 30-day sobriety chip or your best friend tunes out when you’re trying to share what you’ve learned in a group therapy session, this is understandably going to make you feel like your recovery efforts are futile. However, it’s important to remember that someone who cares about your wellbeing will be happy for you when you take steps to better yourself.
Anyone who doesn’t support your recovery and recognize how hard you’re working to manage your substance use disorder is toxic. Addiction is often difficult to understand if you haven’t experienced a substance use disorder yourself, but this is still no excuse for people to diminish your accomplishments.
6. You’re Secretly Relieved When You Can’t See Each Other
When your plans change unexpectedly, how do you feel? If your first impulse is to breathe a sigh of relief, this is a bad sign. Spending time with loved ones isn’t supposed to feel like a chore.
In recovery, you need to learn to trust your instincts. Someone who makes you feel bad about yourself poses a threat to your sobriety, so it’s in your best interest to end the relationship or figure out a way to minimize the contact you have with this person.
At Waypoint Recovery Center, we’re committed to your success. Our experienced and compassionate counselors provide the support you need for a lasting recovery, including advice on how to best handle relationships with people who exhibit toxic behaviors.