The Consequences of Toxic Relationships

There comes a point in each of our lives when we need to take a step back and really evaluate things. We need to look at our priorities, our activities, and our relationships. This may especially be true if we are struggling with something like alcohol or drug abuse or addiction, and we may realize that one or more things in our lives are causing us harm.

The people we surround ourselves with can make a huge impact on us, and for our health and well being, it is sometimes necessary for us to examine our friendships for problems. Of course, friendship should be a give and take, but some friends tend to drain others rather than improve and enrich their lives.

Toxic Friends

An estimated 84% of women in America say they have at least one toxic friend. 33% of them said that friend is also their best friend. (1) The person may be considered toxic because they are selfish and only do things for themselves, or because they are always critical or depressed and they drag others’ moods down. It could also be that the person likes to take part in harmful activities, such as binge drinking or drug abuse, and they are a bad influence on others.

Breaking Free

Whatever the reason for the toxicity, it may be necessary for us to distance ourselves, or at least protect ourselves from these kinds of friends. We can first of all consider spending time with other, more positive friends. We can let the toxic person know that we are working our way up and need to avoid things like alcohol and drug abuse and those that tempt us to do it. We may even want to suggest that our friend get some needed help for themselves.

Find Positive Influences

Much like the peer pressure of teenagers, our relationships as adults can have a big influence on our lives. We can to some extent handle toxic people, but when they start making us do things we do not want to do, or become the people we don’t want to be, we need to make changes. If, after spending time with the person we feel worse about ourselves or about our actions, it is time to break away.

Jenn Berman, PhD, a psychologist from Beverly Hills, California says, “I would say [a toxic friend is] someone who, after spending time with them, makes you feel bad about yourself instead of good; someone who tends to be critical of you — sometimes in a subtle way and sometimes not so subtle; a friend who drains you emotionally, financially, or mentally, and they’re not very good for you.” (2)

Life is too short and too precious to spend it with someone who is going to drag us down. Substance abuse and depression are serious things and we should not let others lead us into them. Rather, surround yourself with positive friends.