Coming out of rehab can sometimes feel a bit frightening, as you begin a new journey navigating life sober.
You may be dealing with some anxiety over facing life without leaning on any substances to cope. Rest assured that such anxiety is quite normal among those who are leaving rehab, but good news is that you don’t have to navigate life alone.
As you probably know, addiction impacts more than just the addict. Families and friends oftentimes get the brunt of the addict’s behaviors, and this doesn’t always go over well. In fact, many bridges are burned throughout the addict’s using days.
However, heading off to rehab to get sober or clean offers you a new lease on life, as well as a chance to think about reconnecting with some of those old friends. Maybe you’ve lost touch with your old friends’ due to your addiction. Or perhaps you said or did something that caused them to stop communicating with you. Either way, there’s fresh opportunity to reach out to your old friends and begin building a healthy bridge.
How to start reconnecting with old friends after addiction treatment
Now, just coming out of rehab, you may be wondering how to go about reconnecting with your old friends. You may wonder what friends you should contact? Fortunately, with the internet and social media sites like Facebook, you shouldn’t have a tough time locating your old friends. If you live in your home town, it will be easy to grab a cup of coffee or some food with your old buddies. If you have moved away, you may want to consider making a visit home to reconnect with your pals.
Granted, before you start spending time with old friends, you’ll want to be mindful of your old friends’ lifestyles. If they happen to be abusing alcohol or drugs, you might want to steer clear of them – at least for now. When you’re fresh out of rehab, it’s wise to stay away from those that may tempt you to party with them. Experts will advise you to stay off "slippery slopes" this means avoiding people, places, and things that are inducements to use again. That’s a golden rule in a solid relapse prevention plan.
Be prepared to ask for forgiveness
If you want to reconnect with a friend whom you’ve hurt at some point in your life, be prepared to give an apology for your behavior. Go ahead and reach out via the phone or a message explaining that you’re just coming out of rehab. Give them an apology right up front and let them know that you are interested in reconnecting. Do you have to let them know you’re fresh out of addiction rehab? Not necessarily, but they may be more inclined to get together with you for a visit if they know you’re serious about recovery.
If you’ve hurt an old friend, he or she may not be thrilled about reconnecting. They may still be hurt and may need some time to heal. All you can do is offer a sincere apology and hope that they will want to reconnect down the road. If you run into this, try not to let it get you down. Move onto a different person and try again. Not everyone is able to forgive and let things go, and some require more time than others to heal and trust again.
Tips for reconnecting with old friends after addiction rehab
Now that you’re ready to start re-building bridges with old friends, and you’re prepared for those who may still be hurt or angry, here are some helpful tips:
1. Open the lines of communication
The first step in rebuilding any relationship is opening the lines of communication. This means you’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to those you want to reconnect with. You can do this via the internet or telephone. Simply let them know that you’ve completed addiction rehab and are getting your life together. Tell them you’d like to reconnect and rekindle the friendship at their leisure.
2. Offer a humble apology
Chances are you are the one who burned the bridge with old friends. If you did, it’s time to offer a humble apology. Whether you blew this person off or said or did things to hurt him, asking for forgiveness shows that you have done some major changing. It’s humbling to go to someone and share honestly and vulnerably. As you do this, hopefully your old friends will see that you are indeed sincere in your attempt to reconnect, and offer you another chance.
3. Be consistent with your efforts
Rebuilding a friendship will take time and effort. Be intentional in your endeavor to rebuild and deepen each friendship. If you lost friendships due to being absent, realize that your presence is important. Not just your physical presence, but emotionally as well. Really be present when you’re engaging with your old friends, and be sure that you are reciprocating nicely. This means that both of you are giving and receiving in a way that honors the friendship.
4. Be patient
Some old friends may not be where you are when it comes to wanting to reconnect. They may be hurt or they may be drowning in some sort of misery. If you run into resistance, do your best to be patient. Each relationship has different dynamics, so take into consideration the various factors present in each one. It may take some time to rebuild trust, so rather than get upset and give up, decide right now that you’ll embody patience as you try to reconnect with old friends. Let them be where they are without taking it personal.
5. Have a support network
It may be helpful for you to have a recovery support network. For some, this may be attending a 12 Step group like Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous. For others, it may be SMART Recovery or a counselor. By having your own support when it comes to recovery, it helps you be accountable and stay on track, and it shows others that you are serious about your recovery.
What to expect from your friends after rehab
Will you be able to reconnect with all your old friends? Perhaps, but realize that sometimes it may not go as you expect. Some may not be interested in rekindling the friendship. Others may still be hurt or angry. Still, there are some that may be dealing with their own life issues and just can’t hold space for a friendship right now.
Addiction affects family and friends at various levels. The reality is that not all old relationships will be salvageable, and that’s alright. Try not to take it personal. Do your best at taking care of you and connect with those who are willing to reconnect and share life with you. It will take a commitment and unconditional love, but it will be well worth the effort as you navigate life with a loving group of friends.