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Managing Unsupportive People During Recovery


On your road to recovery, you're bound to come across some people in your life who are not as supportive as you had hoped. Having supportive people in your life is crucial to your success, however, sometimes people are not able to meet your expectations. There are several reasons why someone may not be supportive. You may have wronged this person in the past during your drug/alcohol use, they may have lost trust or faith in you, they may be unfamiliar with the recovery process, or they might be a bad influence on your sobriety. Whatever the reason is, there is always a solution.


Managing Expectations


It is important to remember that this journey to sobriety is your own. You can't expect people to care about it as much as you do. It's your job to honor the process and work at it. Expecting someone to change because you want or expect them to will only lead to resentment.


Here are some examples of unrealistic expectations:

  • Feeling the need to be forgiven quickly.
  • Expecting an apology.
  • The need to be liked by everyone.
  • Thinking everyone knows how the recovery process works.
  • Believing that bad things shouldn't happen because you are sober.
  • Expecting everyone to understand and respect your boundaries.


Setting Boundaries


Having healthy boundaries is knowing and understanding what your limits are. Having boundaries set will help you manage the unsupportive people in your life.


  • Understand Your Boundary: List out what you are willing and not willing to stand for from unsupportive people. At what point do you draw a line?
  • Pay Attention to Your Feelings: If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, consider it may be a sign your boundary is being crossed. Is what they are saying or doing causing resentment? Review your boundary parameters and determine if they have broken any boundary.
  • Communicate Clearly: If you feel like a boundary has been crossed, it is important to let the other person know. This can be difficult for some, but to prevent it from happening in the future, it's necessary. Politely explain why you have this boundary and why it's important that the other person respects it.
  • Practice: Setting boundaries and enforcing them can be a difficult task at first. Keep at it and slowly it will become second nature.


Manage Your Interactions With Unsupportive People


Know that you are not obligated or required to keep unsupportive people in your life, be it family, friends, or otherwise. If these people are becoming toxic to your sobriety, you do not have to keep them in your life.


If you want to keep them in your life try limiting the time you spend with them. If a situation starts to become toxic, explain to them how to be supportive and respect your boundaries. If they cannot do this, then you should have a backup plan in place to remove yourself from the situation.


Keep Good Company


The best thing you can do for your recovery is to surround yourself with supportive people. Keep healthy relationships with the people that understand your journey and struggles. Reach out to these people when you are feeling unsupported by others.


Final Thoughts


While you will have those people in your life that will be unsupportive of your recovery, remember that you do have options. Boundaries take courage, practice, and support so start setting them today!