Sometimes, those close to you may not help with or support your addiction recovery. Focusing on your recovery and well-being despite this is vital.

Social support can be an important part of addiction recovery. In many cases, family members and friends will encourage you to stay engaged in treatment and focused on your recovery journey. However, there may be instances when someone you love isn’t supportive of your choice to seek treatment. Knowing the reasons behind their lack of support, as well as how to navigate such a situation, can help you stay on track.

Why Someone You Love May Not Support Recovery

While people who care about you will likely want you to recover from your addiction so you can live a healthy, fulfilling life, you may find that some loved ones simply aren’t supportive of your choice to seek treatment. There can be several potential reasons for a lack of support.

They Don’t Understand Addiction Treatment or Recovery

Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding addiction and the recovery community. Some people may feel that addiction is a moral failing or that a person can simply “just stop using.” Someone with this mindset may think that time spent in treatment is unnecessary or a waste of money and resources. 

They Want To Drink or Do Drugs With You

Friends who are still actively engaged in their own addictions may be resentful if you enter recovery because they can no longer use substances with you. While recovery is the best choice for you, they may miss having you around as someone with whom they can drink or use drugs. Your choice to enter recovery can also make them feel insecure about their own substance use because they might not yet be ready to enter treatment. If this is the case, your recovery can feel threatening to them. 

They’ve Been Hurt by Your Addiction

Someone who isn’t willing to enthusiastically support your recovery may be struggling with the hurt you’ve caused them during active addiction. For example, if you stole from them, lied to them or repeatedly let them down by choosing not to seek treatment, they may choose to distance themselves to protect themselves from further stress or emotional pain. You can begin to overcome this by making amends; this requires acknowledging the pain you’ve caused, offering a genuine apology and repairing the relationship through changed behavior. 

They Benefit from Your Addiction

Finally, some loved ones might benefit from your addiction. A former spouse or other family member who has assumed custody of your children might prefer that you stay in active addiction so they can maintain full custody of the children. Or, someone who is codependent may obtain fulfillment or a sense of purpose through caring for you and enabling your addiction. 

What To Do When Loved Ones Don’t Agree

When loved ones decide not to support your recovery, you’ll have to decide how to respond. Ultimately, you need to do what is best for yourself and your mental health, but you might consider some of the following strategies:

  • Empathize and express understanding: If a loved one has a stigmatized view toward addiction treatment or is struggling with emotional pain you’ve caused them during your addiction, the best choice might be to simply empathize with them and try to understand their viewpoint. For instance, someone who views addiction as a moral failing may have strong personal beliefs, and you trying to understand their perspective may encourage them to be more supportive of you in turn. Similarly, empathizing with someone who expresses that you’ve hurt them during active addiction can help you to repair the relationship, which will likely increase their support.
  • Distance yourself: If friends or family are upset about your decision to enter treatment — because perhaps they are codependent or are still in active addiction and want you to keep using substances with them — distancing yourself is likely the best choice. In fact, being around people who are still in active addiction may be a trigger for relapse, so keeping your distance can help you stay committed to recovery. 
  • Don’t feel pressured to explain yourself: When a loved one simply does not want to hear your point of view and continues to hold a negative attitude about your recovery, you can choose not to explain yourself. Someone who does not support your recovery journey is not owed an explanation for why you’re in treatment. Continuing to have conversations with them isn’t likely to change their opinion, and it will probably cause you additional stress. 

Choosing Your Recovery

The bottom line is that you have to choose your recovery regardless of what other people think about it. You can recover without listening to the opinions of others, and you have to believe in your personal choice to seek treatment. Ultimately, staying committed to recovery will improve your life, as well as the lives of close friends and family members who were negatively impacted by your addiction.

Rather than being discouraged by loved ones who aren’t supportive, surround yourself with the support of the recovery community. Participate in peer support groups, and stay in contact with friends and family who encourage you to participate in treatment. 

It’s Time to Get Your Life Back 

“I am still sober, continuing outpatient treatment, living in sober housing, reconnecting with my wife, family and friends… Just living a happier, healthier life that I couldn’t have imagined before The Recovery Village.”
— Dylan Zabriskie, The Recovery Village Ridgefield Alumni & Recovery Ambassador

Same-day admission is available at The Recovery Village treatment centers nationwide. Our facilities offer high-quality, evidence-based addiction treatment that can help you start your long-lasting recovery. Our licensed medical and clinical staff can design and personalize and treatment plan around your needs with our full continuum of care, including:

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Editor – Abby Doty
Abby Doty graduated from Hamline University in 2021 with a Bachelor's in English and Psychology. She has written and edited creative and literary work as well as academic pieces focused primarily on psychology and mental health. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Jenni Jacobsen, LSW
Dr. Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker through the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board. She has over seven years working in the social work field, working with clients with addiction-related and mental health diagnoses. Read more

Barry, Colleen; McGinty, Emma; Pescosolido, Bernice; & Goldman, Howard. “Stigma, Discrimination, Treatment Effectiveness, and Policy: Public Views About Drug Addiction and Mental Illness.” Psychiatric Services, October 2014. Accessed July 16, 2023.

Mazie Zielinski, Mazie; Bradshaw, Spencer; Mullet, Natira; Hawkins, Lindsey; Shumway, Sterling; & Chavez, Megan. “Codependency and Prefrontal Cortex Functioning: Preliminary Examination of Substance Use Disorder Impacted Family Members.” The American Journal on Addictions, September 2019. Accessed July 16, 2023.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.