Family And Friends Don’t Support Your Recovery?…Why?

For those of us who are sober, our addiction is always, in a way, working against us, trying to lure us back in and just waiting for an opportunity to trigger the old behaviors and coping mechanisms. That’s why we work so hard at staying sober. It’s why we put the daily effort into working a strong program and doing whatever we can to build our recovery while deepening our relationship with God. We feel the support of our program friends, our sponsors, our rehab buddies and many of the people at church.

However, we often meet opposition in the very place we’d least expect it: from our close family and friends. We would think, after our years in addiction, that they’d be happy that we’re sober, that we’re getting involved at church and that we’re trying to turn our lives around. But that isn’t always the case. Why?

Reasons Family And Friends Don’t Support Your Recovery

Dysfunction, Plain And Simple

Dysfunctional families are a breeding ground for all sorts of addictions and maladaptive behaviors. If you have other active addicts in your family, don’t expect them to be cheerleaders of your sobriety. The rest of your family may not deal with clear issues of addiction, but it’s likely they carry some of the vestiges of dysfunction, often in the form of envy or spite.

They Don’t Know Any Better

Reasons Family & Friends Aren't Supporting Recovery - Christian DrugSometimes ignorance can masquerade as opposition. In some cases, our families are simply unaware of what you’ve gone through as an addict. And this lack of awareness about addiction in general means they may be less than helpful in their interactions with someone who is newly recovering. For example, your mother may (unintentionally) try to derail you with something like, “Oh, don’t you want just one drink? You can handle that can’t you?”

These kinds of suggestions can feel disrespectful and unsupportive, especially if we have already told our families and friends that we’re no longer drinking or using. We can be tempted to snap back or to get angry. Instead, it helps to have some simple stock responses practiced and ready to employ when others are digging at our efforts to stay sober. Something like “Sobriety is really what works best for me” can work wonders. No one can argue with this statement.

Unaddressed Conflict And Resentment

What we may fail to realize is that we often didn’t treat people well when we were living in addiction. And our friends and families put up with it, often for years and even decades. Now we’re sober and feeling great and we want everyone else to be on board. “Let’s leave the past behind and embrace the present!” we think. However, it isn’t always that simple; hurt feelings and relational brokenness can run deep. A friend or family member’s opposition to recovery may be coming from long-standing resentments and conflict.

Feeling Neglected

Recovery asks quite a lot of us—especially in the beginning. Maybe we’ve spent several weeks in rehab, and now we’re trying to get to as many meetings as we can, meeting other program friends for coffee and doing our daily program work. This new focus and its time commitment can leave family and friends feeling neglected and left out. For years they have been hoping and praying that we’d get help so they could “have us back.” Now we’re getting help, but we’re spending our time and energy elsewhere. This can create resentment and opposition around our recovery.

Binge Buddies

If your friends are less than supportive of your recovery efforts, you might have to take a look at your friends. Was your clan comprised of binge buddies? A group of addicts never likes to see one leave the pack, and they’ll often work pretty hard to derail those efforts. If your friends and/or family are addicts, don’t look to them for support.


You may be the most humble, gracious, non-preaching recovering addict around; nonetheless, your recovery holds a mirror up to the faces of everyone around you, and for some, that mirror won’t reflect good things. Your decision not to drink or use can make others feel judged. Not because you’re judging them, but because they’re judging themselves. Your recovery can be an uncomfortable reminder of what they’re struggling with.

We Must Understand And Accept, Search Ourselves, And Keep Recovering

While we expect support from those closest to us, we have to accept that there are reasons we might not get it. Understand that this is normal. Continue to reflect on your own behavior to make sure you aren’t contributing to the problem. Then get on with the business of working your program. Opposition, though painful in the beginning, often turns to support with time. Be patient and seek support among members of your 12-step group and church.

Even when no one else believes in you and you feel all alone…remember that you’re not…God Has never left you and never will. Call out and trust in Him!

Now You Understand Why Others Don’t Support Your Recovery – Now See What To Do!