People who quit using and drinking and who do not remove drug and alcohol users from their social network (circle of friends, family, and acquaintances) have a very high risk of returning to use or relapse (Marlatt, & Donovan, 2005). Producing, dealing or distributing drugs predicts a lower probability of achieving abstinence and predicts higher levels of use (Marlatt, & Donovan, 2005). If you want to remain abstinent, you need to end your relationships with people who use or who are in the drug economy. Relationships based on mutual involvement in drug and alcohol use contribute to relapse. The drug is always the most important part of the relationship and the user will continue drinking, using or dealing. When you quit and the other person continues using, you will need to end or set specific limits on the relationship or you will put yourself at a high risk for relapse. Considerable practice is needed to develop the assertive and communication skills required to maintain safe relationships with people who have destructive behaviors.
Negative influences may be more powerful than positive influence in social networks (Marlatt, & Donovan, 2005). Negative influences include people who offer drugs or alcohol, use around the person in recovery, show behaviors that stimulate craving, and produce cues for using. If you have many positive people in your social network and still include one drug or alcohol using person, you are placing yourself at a high risk of relapse, particularly in your early recovery. A safe environment for the person who successfully completes treatment and rehab does not include people who use alcohol or drugs or who are involved in the drug economy.