Can I Hang Out With My Old Friends?

Question: I realized a month ago that drugs and alcohol were controlling my life, and I decided that I needed to get clean and sober. I started going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Since I have made these changes, I have been a lot healthier and a lot more productive. A lot of my old friends, though, are starting to tell me that I never come around anymore or that I never hang out with them. It’s kind of true. None of them are as bad as I was, but they all drink, smoke pot, and occasionally do harder drugs. Now that I’ve been sober for a month, do you think it’s okay to hang out with them? – Anonymous

First of all, congratulations on your month of sobriety. The first month is the hardest.

Unfortunately, though, when it comes to putting yourself in environments where you may be tempted to drink or use drugs, a month is not long enough. But the question “can I hang out with my old friends” is a little more complicated.

I wouldn’t go to the bar or to parties, but I would have a talk with your old friends and find out if they are able to hang out with you without drinking or using drugs. If they are really your friends, they should agree to this no problem. Explain to them that you are deciding to live a sober lifestyle now and you don’t want to drink or use drugs even socially. You may need to explain to them that you have addiction issues or alcoholism, and having “a beer once in a while” is not the same thing for you as it is for them. If they have one beer, nothing will happen. If you have one beer, it may send you spiraling down to where you were before.

If your old friends don’t want to hang out with you without drugs or alcohol, they were never really your friends. It may be a hard truth, but it’s really that simple.

The good news, however, is that now you are involved with AA and NA, you can make friends there. These people will be much better friends than your old friends because the friendships will be based on something real.