The Sober Living AZ Blog

Is It Possible To Stay Friends With Addicts?

Posted on 03/10/20: Uncategorized

Staying friends with someone who is willingly choosing to stay in active addiction is a complicated topic riddled with “ifs” “ands” and “buts.” In certain circumstances, remaining close with an addict is okay, and can even greatly benefit them and their journey to recovery. However, in other instances, staying friends with an addict may just inflict more pain on you and them, creating a toxic relationship which prevents the growth and healing that so desperately needs to happen. In this article, we will discuss the nuances, complications, and actionable tips involved in maintaining a relationship with someone in active addiction or recovery.

How Addiction Affects Relationships

It’s no secret that addiction destroys relationships, often with those closest to you. Loved ones cannot bear seeing someone they care about be completely changed by the addiction, turning them into someone that friends and family no longer recognize. But why and how does addiction do this to someone?

For starters, addicts will often engage in extremely risky, erratic behavior in order to continue using their drug of choice. It will push them into doing things they would have never done before. Not only this, but they will begin to isolate themselves from family and friends. They will typically cease engaging in activities that they once enjoyed. 

They will begin replacing lost, healthy friendships with new ones that enable their drug use. The addict is resistant to surrounding themself with people who will encourage them to seek treatment, especially if they are adamant that they do not have a problem. They do not want to hear that what they are doing is damaging. 

Two Addicts

This is the first circumstance we will discuss, and the one that is most likely to be toxic and advised against. A relationship between two addicts in active addiction is probably not going to be beneficial to either party. If neither or only one of you has committed to getting clean, it is best to break it off, as you will end up fueling each others’ addictive mindsets and enabling each other to continue using. Addicts live in a world full of delusions that their minds conjure up in order to justify their continued drug use. Put two addicts together and you have a never ending sounding board of excuses to remain in the world they’ve built around their addiction. However, if both of you have committed to getting clean, this changes things a bit.

Addicts in Recovery

So two addicts in active addiction shouldn’t be friends, but what if you’ve both committed to getting clean and living a life of sobriety? This one is tricky, but definitely more healthy and productive than the aforementioned relationship. When it works, it really works. Not only can you be a source of motivation and strength for one another through a difficult time, but no one understands each other’s trials and tribulations like two people struggling with substance abuse. 

Unfortunately, this kind of relationship is a slippery slope. If one of you were to slip up, it’s very likely that the one who relapsed will take the other person down with them. It is suggested that if you do want to remain friends or make friends with a fellow recovering addict, that you do so when both of you are in a solid place mentally. These relationships work out best post-detox, preferably after both of you have been in treatment for an extended period of time already so that you have a good foundation for your sobriety. 

There’s a reason why peer support groups are implemented in almost all recovery programs across the country, and that’s because a healthy relationship between two recovering addicts dedicated to a life of sobriety can be extremely powerful. 

A Non-Addict and an Active Addict

This is another one that can be dicey, and that is the non-addict with someone who is currently in the throes of addiction and has not committed to getting clean. We see these relationships a lot, and they can be some of the most toxic and damaging. The saddest part is that most of the issues in this kind of relationship arise because both parties care deeply about each other, and neither wants to make the other person suffer. This can be especially difficult on the non-addict, as they can see things much clearer than the addict can. They see how rapidly and carelessly the addicted person is throwing their life away in pursuit of the substance they crave, and the bridges they burn because of it. The non-addict will likely feel rejected, unappreciated, and will probably have insecurities and depressive thoughts due to their perception that the addict is choosing their substance of choice over their loved one. The non-addict will usually feel as though if the addict loved them enough, they would quit using. Unfortunately, due to the intense, mind-altering nature of addiction, the addict’s brain will essentially tune out every other need and desire and replace it with an all-encompassing craving for the drug. 

One can never truly have a healthy relationship with a person in active addiction, as that person is inherently unhealthy themselves. A lot of family members and friends will find themselves needing to completely cut contact with the addict because they continue to be hurt by them and feel powerless to change anything. Many recovered addicts cite their “rock bottom” as the time their family members finally said enough is enough, and refused to continue enabling their drug use. They usually never feel resentment towards this decision, and in fact many celebrate their family members and friends for pushing them to the breaking point they needed to make the decision to get sober. 

A Non-Addict and Recovering/Recovered Addict

Like the recovering addict + recovering addict relationship, this is one of the most beneficial. While it can be difficult for a non-addict to fully understand the struggles that a recovering or fully recovered addict goes through on a daily basis, everything is in place for a healthy relationship to ensue. While having relationships with other recovering and recovered addicts is wonderful and should be celebrated, often times it can be freeing to break out of the “addict” label every once in a while and just live life amongst everyday folks whom you love and care about. They provide fresh perspectives and can truly show you what life is like when you give up addiction long-term. 

How can you have a successful relationship with someone with a history of addiction?

As we mentioned, it is entirely possible and encouraged to maintain a relationship with recovering or recovered drug/alcohol users. However, if you are having a difficult time in a relationship or friendship with a user in active addiction, there are some resources for information on how to make it easier to stay in their lives without sacrificing your own wellbeing.


If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact Sober Living of AZ now to get the help you need. Sober Living offers an acclaimed recovery environment that merges upscale and luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare. Call us now at 602-737-2458.

Content for Scottsdale Recovery Center and Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best. www.cohn.media

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