Friends are crucial in recovery, but those who are still using may not be supportive of your sobriety. In these cases, it may be necessary to cut ties with them.

Maintaining platonic relationships in recovery can be difficult, especially if you have friends who still use. Since relapse prevention is crucial for people in the recovery process, it may be necessary to cut ties with friends who still use drugs or alcohol. After all, experts report that one of the best ways to stay committed to recovery is to avoid people, places and things surrounding former substance use. 

Evaluating Old Friendships

Friends in recovery should be supportive of your abstinence from substance use, so it is important to evaluate old friendships to ensure that they will promote your long-term recovery. Friends who are still using drugs could have a negative impact on your recovery journey. If a former friend isn’t supportive of your sobriety, it is best to cut ties with them altogether. If friends who are using are supportive of your recovery and respect your boundaries, you may be able to keep them in your life with strong boundaries in place. 

In some cases, there may be people in your life who are using that you are unable to avoid. In these cases, it is important to establish healthy boundaries. Let these individuals know that you are living a sober lifestyle and will not discuss drug use or be around them when they are using or under the influence. 

Making New Friends in Recovery

Friends who don’t use drugs or alcohol can provide essential recovery support, so making new friends in recovery can be beneficial. In fact, research shows that women who socialize in drug-free ways are more likely to remain abstinent from drug use, and their overall functioning is improved. Another study found that social support reduces the risk of relapse significantly.

Sober individuals can be a positive source of social support, so it is helpful to meet sober friends. You may connect with sober friends in support group meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. You can also develop sober friendships by attending community events, taking classes or going to a gym or fitness center to exercise. Finding people you share mutual interests with can help you to make friends in recovery.

If you or a loved one is living with an addiction, The Recovery Village has locations around the country and can provide services, such as aftercare, that help you to maintain your sobriety and connect with drug-free friends. Reach out to admissions today to learn more. 

a woman is standing with her arms crossed.
Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
a close up of a person with blue eyes.
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

Melemis, Steven. “Relapse prevention and the five rules of recovery“>“Relap[…]s of recovery.” The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, September 2015. Accessed August 26, 2019.

Gregoire, Thomas; Snively, Carol. “The relationship of social support and economic self-sufficiency to substance abuse outcomes in a long-term recovery program for women.” Journal of Drug Education, 2001. Accessed August 27, 2019.

Nikmanesh, Zahra, et al. “The role of self-efficacy beliefs and social support on prediction of addiction relapse.” International Journal of High Risk Behaviors and Addiction, 2017. Accessed August 27, 2019.

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.