Living With Someone Who Isn't Sober
Updated: Feb 2
Recovery is different for everyone, but being around people who aren't sober when you are, can be complicated. These may be people you love, even family, but what do you do when their behavior negatively impacts your recovery? Depending on your comfort zone, being around substances like drugs or alcohol can either be fine or feel impossible. You know you can't change someone else's behavior, but their impact on you could push you into relapse.
Facing Unsupportive People in Recovery
Hopefully, in recovery, you have support from peer groups, therapists, and a sponsor. These are all wonderful outlets for you to maintain your sobriety and continue to grow.
Even with so much support, a lack of support from someone you're close to or live with can feel so much more powerful. Whether they don't support your recovery in any way or ignore your needs, it can make you feel disrespected or tempted to use.
Dealing with someone who uses drugs or alcohol in your home while you're in recovery can feel like a slap in the face. You are working so hard to stay clean and sober, and someone close to you is not considering that.
Trying to get this person to understand where you're coming from can be tough. What you can do in this situation is share your boundaries with them.
Whether this person has an addiction or not, being around this behavior can be troubling. Communicating how it makes you feel is vital. Maybe they don't have to stop using, but they can let you know when they are so you can remove yourself from the situation.
Some people may be more than willing to work with you so that you're both comfortable in your home, however, others may react badly.
Offering up your experience or even recommending treatment to someone you live with who hasn't started recovery is an option. It is important always to have these conversations with care. Being judgment-free, just as you hope they are with your sobriety, is key.
The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs discusses that a combination of practical support from a caring individual and confrontation about substance use is instrumental in facilitating change. Although this is not always the case, some studies show that when you let someone know you are there for them, if and when they want help, it is considered supportive, not forceful.
With this, your recovery needs to be your priority. You may want to help those you live with, but you can only control so much.
Staying Sober Around People Who Aren't
Beyond finding balance with those around you who still use, you need to focus on your recovery above all else. If you feel you are at risk of relapse by living where you are or with certain people, you may need to take control of the things you can change.
Here are some things that can help you focus on your sobriety around people who aren't sober.
#1 Remove yourself from temptation: If you feel like living with people who aren't sober is impeding your success in recovery, you may need to remove yourself from that situation. If you've spoken to those people without change, it is time to make changes yourself. You don't necessarily need to cut them out of your life, but removing yourself from situations that make you uncomfortable is part of recovery.
#2 Make space: As someone in recovery, you probably understand the people around you who are still using, but it doesn't mean you have to help them. Sometimes getting involved with their problems can make things worse for you. Create some distance between yourself and people who aren't supporting your recovery. You can see them when you don't feel insecure in your recovery, but setting boundaries is essential.
#3 Connect with other people in recovery: Surround yourself with people who understand what you're going through. Find group meetings or speak with your sponsor. Enhancing the healthier connections in your life will leave you feeling full, rather than lacking social connection.
#4 Find pride in your recovery: You should never feel ashamed of being sober. You should be proud of your growth and healing. Remember to see your sobriety as a benefit, not a burden.
#5 Be purposeful with your plans: Instead of going to events just to go, go for a reason. Do you enjoy the food? Is there an amazing band playing? If you are going somewhere that serves alcohol, be sure you are excited about another aspect of your plans. Being the only sober person in the room can feel alienating. When you go to an event because you truly want to, you won't feel so lonely.
#6 Remind yourself why you're sober: You don't want to feel at risk in recovery, but if you do, encourage yourself. Motivate yourself with all the reasons you sought treatment. Remember why you're on this journey.
#7 Accept reality: There will always be other people who aren't sober around you. Sometimes you can set boundaries that work for you both, but you may need to remove yourself. You care and don't want to cut someone out, but if their presence is unhealthy for you, you may need to accept that fact and do what you need to remain in recovery. This can be temporary, but you have to accept that it may not be.
When you live with someone who isn't sober, your recovery can feel like it is at risk. Facing someone else's substance use while you are working hard at remaining sober is a lot to handle. You want to be honest with this person about your feelings, but you can't expect them to change their behavior. You need to put your energy into your recovery and let go of the things you can't change. Removing yourself from an unhealthy situation, finding support, and being purposeful with your decisions can help you stay strong during recovery. Part of facing people who aren't sober is adjusting to life outside of treatment. California Care Detox & Treatment offers guidance and support for you every step of the way. We help prepare you to face these hurdles through recovery and remain hopeful in your healing. Learn more about how we can help by calling (949) 281-0632.