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How to Tell Your Friends About Your Recovery

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How to Tell Your Friends About Your Recovery

Recovery is something you should take pride in. You’ve taken the steps to overcome addiction, tackled your struggle head-on, and you’re winning. The only problem is you don’t know how to share your journey with your friends who aren’t in recovery.


“Will they understand? How much do I tell them? Will they see me differently?”

These are all valid and completely understandable concerns. After all, maintaining face in front of your friends is a normal practice, especially with friends who have been like brothers throughout most of you life.

Understanding the Anxiety

Sociologist Erving Goffman studied and coined the idea of face. He defined face as the “positive social value” that is claimed by a person during interactions with others. In other words, face is the image of yourself that you attempt to uphold when interacting with other people, depending on who they are to you. For example, you uphold an image of solidarity with your friends by telling jokes, using slang, or even poking harmless fun at them. You present a different face when talking to your boss by keeping eye contact and using formalities, such as calling him “Sir.”

friendsYou may have heard of the phrases “losing face” and “giving face.” Losing face refers to when someone does something that interrupts the connection between himself and another person, such as when a joke falls flat. The other person can then “give face” back by laughing along anyway.

This idea of face is where the anxiety of talking about your recovery with friends stems from. Essentially, many people may feel like talking about their recovery will cause them to lose face.


  • Be honest.

    Breaking bad habits is one of the practices learned in recovery. Chances are that lying – especially to oneself – was one of those habits. Before recovery you probably denied having an addiction problem to yourself and others. Now is the time to be honest and let your friends know that you’re proud of your journey.

  • Be aware of your comfort level.

    Understand that how much you want to tell your friends is up to you, not them.

  • Make amends.

    It’s possible that you may have unknowingly hurt some of your friends during your struggle with addiction. Try to be willing to make amends with them. They’ll appreciate and respect you for it.

  • Keep it casual.

    Try not to overthink your conversation. Ideally, your friends will have your back no matter what. That’s what makes them good friends.

  • Put your sobriety first.

    Good friends will still be there even if you don’t participate in the same activities as they do anymore, such as drinking. Make sure they understand that you can still be the same fun, lighthearted friend but that you’re serious about your sobriety.

  • Make new friends.

    Sometimes a friend might not understand and may be detrimental to your recovery. In that case, try to find new friends who support and encourage your sober lifestyle. You can meet people through meetings, fellowship programs, or your treatment center.

Friends don’t let friends suffer. If someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 855-737-7363 for help.

Posted in Recovery