Nobody says we have to be friends with the people we go to treatment with. Technically, we don’t have to like anyone. We don’t have to be friends with them when we leave. If we try hard enough, we can even avoid being friends with them while we’re in treatment and just get by with the surface level connection we are comfortable with until we graduate. The truth is, trying to make it out of treatment for drug and alcohol addiction without making friends is going to take a lot more work than making friends in treatment.
Treatment is a unique time in a man’s life. Everyone is in a state of raw vulnerability like they never have been before in their lives because their lives are at stake. Treatment isn’t something we end up in due to curiosity or happenstance. We end up in treatment because our ability to safely live our lives has been taken from us. Learning about ourselves, why we became addicted, and how we can live addiction free, is a matter of life or death. Naturally, the bonds we form during the treatment phase of our recovery are incredibly strong. Few people have such a shared experience in their life.
When we graduate treatment, we can feel intimidated by the idea of making friendships with other kinds of people. Though we might find a recovery community nearby when we move home or start a new life in a new location, it is easy to feel out of place without our brotherhood in recovery. Deciding what to tell people, what not to tell people, and how to relate to people can feel overwhelming and stressful at first.
Disclosing our addicted past and our recovering present is up to us. Recovery is a huge part of our lives, but it isn’t necessarily who we are. Our recovery does make us someone interesting, someone inspiring, and someone trustworthy. Just like we learn how to become friends with people in treatment, we can learn how to become friends with people outside of treatment. We can do absolutely anything we put our minds to in recovery.