Much of our lives revolve around relationships, no matter how seemingly intimate or minor. From your early-age relationships with parents and siblings to the growing pains of first love, friendship and marriage; the people in your life have an effect on your happiness and success after drug and alcohol recovery and rehab than you ever thought possible. It’s just as important to fill your life with the right people as it is to steer clear of individuals that will lead you back down a dangerous path. The decisions you have to make regarding the people you keep in your life might be tough, but remember that long term sobriety is well worth the heartache of letting go.

Your Healthy Support System

No recovering addict will find lasting success and sobriety without a support system. It’s crucial to surround yourself with supportive, caring people that will help you through the everyday and long term struggles. Among them is your therapist, doctor or rehabilitation counselor. It’s crucial to continue your therapy, whether it’s one on one or a supportive group meeting with your fellow recovering addicts. These are also the people you can turn to when the stresses of life are looming, and you need someone to kick you back into the reality of recovery.

A Positive Force

Think back to the last time you were having a bad day; whom did you turn to? You didn’t want to speak to a pessimistic or critical friend or family member. Instead, you sought the support and guidance of a person who could see the brighter side of life and help you do the same. Positivity and success after rehabilitation go hand in hand. Not only will this person’s attitude prove contagious, they might also display certain traits that will rub off on you. For instance, many optimists generally take better care of their body through diet and exercise and also tend to stay away from indulging in bad behaviors, including smoking, drinking and the use of illicit drugs.

The Enabler

While you were in the grips of addiction, did your friends and family indulge your unwanted behaviors in an attempt to appease you or keep you in their life? If this is the case, there’s a chance those seemingly benevolent, caring people were actually enabling your addiction. Oftentimes, this enabling relationship breeds codependency. For a codependent drug or alcohol abuser, it’s these alliances that actually contribute to your drug or alcohol abuse. In order to keep on the path of sobriety, it’s important to pinpoint these enabling relationships, and either change the dynamic or eliminate these people from your life. Many times, it’s the parents, spouse or other family members that produce this codependency, making the prospect of ending these key relationships extremely difficult.

Your Old, Good Time Friends

Finding true friendship is a difficult prospect, especially if you’ve never learned how to create healthy, lasting bonds. Many addicts meet an entirely new group of friends and associates that share in their drug of choice, whether illegal substances, alcohol, gambling or any other type of addiction. If you’ve left rehabilitation and sought the company of your old friends who are still in the grips of an addiction, it’s important to walk away. In the end, your friendship was probably based more on satiating your immediate needs rather than creating long lasting, meaningful bonds.

Forming New Relationships

It’s never easy to make new friends, especially if you’re muddling through the transitional period that occurs after leaving a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program. If this is your dilemma, don’t become discouraged and sink into isolation, which isn’t healthy or good for your sobriety. Instead, make new friendships based around shared, positive interests. Signing up for a book club through a local library, volunteering through your church or even offering to help your neighbor weed his garden are all ways to meet some new, and sometimes very interesting people. However, be wary of these newfound relationships; don’t begin to share too much of yourself or create a bond with the person until you determine that their intentions and lifestyle won’t interrupt your pursuit of long term sobriety.

A Relationship with Yourself

As you become older, and hopefully wiser, you’ll probably come to the realization that there’s no greater relationship than the one you have with yourself. This is probably also the most complex, and you’ll need to learn to love and accept your new sober, positive outlook on life. Instead of expecting this relationship to form overnight, give yourself time and learn that your past mistakes have transformed you into the vibrant, strong individual you see in the mirror every morning.

Reevaluating your past relationships, and forming new, strong bonds, is only part of the everyday battle you’ll face on your road to sobriety. If you’re having trouble meeting people, or opening up to these new friends, speak to your counselor or psychologist. He or she can provide you with advice about how to let people in, and create relationships that will see you through your future endeavors.