Friendship and Addiction
Aristotle believed that friendship is the most important relationship that one person could have with another. In fact, he argued that the right friends could make us better people, as they have the ability to help us improve our moral character by giving us the change to practice virtue.1 Therefore, Aristotle believed that the wrong friends can also bring us down.1 We do activities with our friends, to good or bad effect, depending upon who they are.1
For people who struggle with recovery, asking them about their friends when they were using can cause common themes to arise.1 Often, as their addiction progressed, they cut ties with their old friends, making new ones who shared their same, new interests.1 Old friends who knew them before they became addicts are aware of who they really are and what they used to be like.1 When in their presence, addicts often withdraw, feeling guilty about their new habits and about letting their friends down.1 In their presence, an addict is reminded of what they used to be like and have a difficult time convincing themselves that they are now happier and successful—because they are not.1 Old friends express concern, and to allow such a brief glimmer of recognition—that their concerns may be valid—causes an addict to withdraw from the friendship in order to feel better about themselves.1 They find new friends that did not know them previously and cannot cause them to feel guilt.1
However, when addiction is present, using becomes the basis for friendships.1 Addicts can then always have others with whom to favorably compare themselves.1 Usually, an addict’s friends use more than they do, allowing them to feel that their addiction isn’t so bad in comparison.1 However, as addiction progresses, they become the favorable comparison for others.1
People who struggle with addiction are incapable of forming quality friendships.1 Their addiction is the most important thing to them, and all relationships are second.1 Addicts become selfish and have no concern for developing virtue and character.1 It is part of the disease called addiction.
According to Aristotle, a good, virtuous person loves his/her character, but not in a selfish way.1 He/she loves being generous, trustworthy, and loyal.1 He/she loves the character of their friends.1 Aristotle believed that the best kind of friendship required both to have the right kind of love for themselves and their friend.1 In fact, friends provide a moral mirror, for no two people are identical in their moral virtues.1 In fact, we are often drawn to people who have traits that we would like to emulate.1 When a friend raises a concern regarding what we are doing, it carries weight.1 It makes us sit up and take notice, as we believe they have our best interests at heart.1
As it takes time for these friendships to develop, and work for them to remain, Aristotle believed that we cannot have many of them.1 It is a committed and intentional activity.1 Therefore, recovering addicts who have friendships with good, moral people are those who will most likely stay on the sober path.1 A path through life that is rich with friends and happiness.1