Toxic Friendships: How to Identify Them and Remove Them From Your Life

Apr 12, 2023 | Communication, Alcohol, Mental Health, Relationship Issues, Substance Abuse

Friendships are what most would consider essential in life. They provide us with a sense of belonging, support, and companionship. However, not all friendships are positive or healthy. Unfortunately, we sometimes find ourselves in toxic friendships that do more harm than good. Toxic friendships can have a significant impact on our mental health, self-esteem, and overall well-being. Identifying these negative relationships and taking steps to get rid of them can make a massive difference in our quality of life.

What is a Toxic Friendship?

A toxic friendship is a relationship that is harmful, negative, and one-sided. It involves behaviors such as manipulation, jealousy, and criticism. In a toxic friendship, one person benefits from the relationship while the other person is left feeling drained, unsupported, and unhappy. Toxic friendships can manifest in many different ways, including peer pressure and alcohol or drug use. You’ll notice that these friendships leave you feeling worse than you did before you saw them, which is not normal or healthy.

Peer Pressure in Toxic Friendships

Peer pressure is a common issue in toxic friendships. When we are around friends who engage in negative behaviors, such as drug or alcohol use, we may feel pressure to do the same. This pressure can be explicit, such as when friends urge us to try something new or participate in risky behaviors. It can also be implicit, such as when we feel like we need to fit in with our friend group to be accepted.

It is crucial to recognize peer pressure for what it is and understand that it is not healthy or normal. Your true friends should respect your boundaries and values. They should support you in making decisions that align with your beliefs and goals. If you find yourself feeling pressured to do something that makes you uncomfortable, it is time to reevaluate your friendships.

Alcohol or Drug Use in Toxic Friendships

Alcohol or drug use can also be a significant issue in toxic friendships. When we are around friends who regularly use drugs or alcohol, we may feel like we need to participate to fit in or be accepted. This can lead to a dangerous cycle of substance abuse and addiction.

If you are in a toxic friendship that involves drug or alcohol use, consider seeking help. Talk to a trusted adult, counselor, or medical professional. They can provide you with resources and support to break free from the cycle of substance abuse and start living a healthy, fulfilling life.

Signs of a Toxic Friendship

Recognizing a toxic friendship is the first step in getting rid of it. Though there are countless different ways we can recognize toxic behavior in someone else, there are some particularly prominent signs that stick out in friendships. Below are some of the most common signs of a toxic friendship:

  • One-sidedness: You will notice that one person always seems to be benefiting while the other person is left feeling drained and unsupported. This could range from only talking about themselves, never showing interest in your life, or pushing you to conform to their wants and needs.
  • Criticism: Toxic friends often criticize and put down their friends. They may make fun of your appearance, accomplishments, or personal beliefs. This comes from a place of insecurity, but that does not mean that you need to accept this treatment. Over time, this can lead to feelings of inadequacy and a decrease in self-confidence.
  • Manipulation: People with a toxic mindset may try to manipulate you into doing things you do not want to do. They may use guilt, threats, or other forms of emotional manipulation to get their way. This is another form of peer pressure and can lead you down a dangerous road, depending on the severity of the behavior.
  • Jealousy: Truly toxic friends may be jealous of your accomplishments or relationships. They may try to sabotage your success or turn others against you. Once again, this comes from a place of insecurity within themselves. By bringing others down, they allow themselves to feel more comfortable in their own skin.
  • Lack of support: You may not feel supported or encouraged by your friend, which is another clear sign that the relationship is not benefiting you. Your friend may be unsympathetic to your struggles or dismissive of your accomplishments. Friends provide us with a support system that should uplift us, not let us down.
How to Get Rid of Toxic Friendships

Getting rid of unhealthy friendships can be challenging, but it is absolutely essential for your well-being. Here are some tips for successfully ending toxic friendships:

  • Be honest: If you have decided to end a toxic friendship, be honest with your friend about why you are doing so. Explain how their behavior has hurt you and why you need to move on. In most cases, the unhealthy friend may not be willing to let you go. You need to prepare to be firm and resist any guilt-tripping.
  • Set boundaries: If you are not ready to end the friendship, set clear boundaries with your friend. Let them know what behaviors are unacceptable and what you will not tolerate. If the friend is not willing to accept your boundaries, you will need to prepare to walk away.
  • Seek support: It can be helpful to seek support from other trusted friends or family members. They can offer you guidance, advice, and emotional support as you navigate the difficult process of ending a toxic friendship. Oftentimes, it takes someone outside of the friendship to help us see the situation for what it truly is.
  • Focus on yourself: When ending a toxic friendship, it is essential to focus on yourself and your own well-being. Take time to engage in self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who uplift you and help you grow.
  • Seek professional help: If you are struggling to end a toxic friendship or are experiencing negative emotions as a result of the relationship, seek help from a professional. A therapist or counselor can help you process your feelings, develop coping strategies, and move forward with your life.
  • Let go of guilt: It is common to feel guilty when ending a friendship, even if it is toxic. However, you need to recognize that you are not responsible for the other person’s happiness. You have the right to end a relationship that is harmful to your well-being.

Unhealthy or toxic friendships can have a significant impact on our mental health, self-esteem, and overall well-being. It is crucial to identify these negative relationships and take steps to get rid of them so that you can focus on finding healthy, uplifting friendships instead. 

Peer pressure and alcohol or drug use are common issues in toxic friendships, so if you notice this behavior, you can quickly identify that the relationship needs to end. Recognizing the signs of a toxic friendship, being honest with your friend, setting boundaries, seeking professional help, and letting go of guilt are all important steps to ending a toxic friendship. 

Remember, you deserve to be surrounded by positive, supportive people who uplift you and help you grow.


New Dimensions Can Help!

New Dimensions provides intensive treatment programs for depression, anxiety, panic attacks, alcoholism, PTSD, and other mental health and substance abuse issues.  We have locations in the greater Houston area and also offer online treatment programs for individuals who reside within the State of Texas.  To learn more, contact us at 800-685-9796 or visit our website at  You can also find individual, couples, and family therapists at