There are aspects of recovery that may call for crossing personal comfort zones. One of these aspects is making new friends. It’s tempting to go back to spending time with old friends, but it’s not always the best idea. Especially if old friends aren’t supportive of your recovery by using drugs or drinking around you.
The best option is to honor your new lifestyle by choosing to spend time with sober friends. There are many benefits to making and keeping sober friends throughout addiction recovery. Examine these advantages so that you don’t miss out on the sober friends you can make throughout your time in treatment!
Sober Friends can Prevent Loneliness and Boredom
It can be easy to become lonely or bored throughout addiction recovery. And, experiencing loneliness and boredom can be a trigger to relapse in the days of early recovery. Change is hard. Addiction recovery comes with much of it. Although steering clear of old friends that don’t have the best intentions in mind and not using addictive substances may be some challenging changes to swallow, these steps don’t have to include loneliness and boredom.
Making sober friends can allow you to discover new ways to experience excitement. And, new sober friends can provide you with comfort and support from individuals who may have experienced similar emotions and situations.
A Different Kind of Peer Pressure
Just as previous friends may have pressured you to stay at the bar to have another drink, sober friends can help to keep you on the straight and narrow. Sobriety is important to you. It will be important to your sober friends too. And, just as you wished to make your previous friends happy by staying to have that extra drink, you’ll wish to make your sober friends happy by remaining sober yourself. Peer pressure works, even when the tables have turned.
Settling into a Sober Routine
You’ve been used to a life of active drug misuse. Staying out all night for drinks or remaining awake for days at a time to use drugs may have been a normal routine for you. In recovery, you’ll find a new routine of sober activities. At first, this adjustment in routines may be challenging to accept. But, sober friends can help normalize the routine of sober life, especially if your sober friends have been in recovery for a while. Experiencing the sober routine with sober friends can help you gain perspective for how recovery can be–normal.
Telling you What you Need to Hear: The Truth
Throughout treatment and recovery, individuals are taught that dishonesty can damage relationships. Often, those struggling with addiction lie and manipulate others to get what they want. This, in turn, brings turmoil to relationships with others. Making sober friends means starting anew with honest relationships. You’ll have the chance to not only practice your own honesty but understand what it’s like to have friends that tell you the truth.
Sure, your previous friends told you what you wanted to hear, but did they tell you the truth? Having friends that will tell you the truth even if it’s not what you want to hear is a huge benefit for recovering individuals. This way, if you are to ever slip up or find yourself on the slippery slope of relapse, your sober friends will be the ones to tell you the truth – you need help.
Building a Network of Sober Support
When you meet just one sober person, you have the chance to meet many sober friends. Growing your group of sober friends grows your recovery support. Because sobriety isn’t all fun and games all the time, a network of sober support is always a good thing to have. This way, not only will you always have the help and support you need when the going gets tough, but you’ll have the opportunities to help others on their recovery journey as well.
How to Find Sober Friends
While in treatment, it is likely you will become acquainted with some like-minded individuals. Most people who are in recovery are out of their comfort zone and doing their best to create a new healthy, and sober lifestyle. Finding the right sober friends is basically up to how much you choose to put yourself out there. When you commit to treatment, you are also committing to surrounding yourself with people with similar goals in mind.
You do not need to face recovery on your own. Building strength in numbers is an essential part of treatment. Knowing what to look for in new sober friends may be the most important part. So, where do you start?
AAs programs account for over one million members in the United States. The easiest and potentially most effective way to find sober friends is by joining a support group. This is an excellent course of action since you will make new, sober friends while continuing to work toward maintaining sobriety.
Support groups do not only include 12-step programs. 12-step programs work great for continued treatment and making new friends. But, not all people in recovery subscribe to faith-based programs. There are countless support groups that do not involve faith in the process of recovery. Whether it’s faith-based or not, support groups generally organize programs that can fill each weeknight and weekend.
Support groups are an excellent platform to meet other sober people. In addition, research shows that participating in any type of support group decreases the likelihood of relapse. The following resources are country-wide programs that specialize in life after rehab:
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) – AA offers both open and closed meetings based on the 12-step process. These meetings help people all across the country maintain sobriety.
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA) – Like AA meetings, NA offers public meetings as well as calendar sign-up-based meetings.
- SMART Recovery – SMART Recovery offers a 12-step program that is not based on religion or faith.
- Celebrate Recovery – Celebrate Recovery is a faith-based program that utilizes the 12-Step program.
Exercise and Physical Proactivity
Exercise is an amazing tool to keep the body and mind healthy. Moving your body can help relieve stress and anxiety while enhancing mood and releasing endorphins. This is why treatment centers, like Discover Institute, offer exercise and wellness programs. Many people in treatment are recovering from harsh lifestyles. Many of these lifestyles are damaging to both the body and mind.
Exercise can help heal the body and mind and set a physical foundation that will be a pillar in your recovery. In addition, joining a fitness class, yoga studio, or gym will be another great way to make friends. Most individuals in these environments care about their physical and mental health – which is why these environments are great places to make new friends.
The new friends you make do not all need to be sober. The important factor is that they support you and the goals of your lifestyle. Finding friends that encourage you to be healthy and happy is crucial in life after rehab.
Social media and social media groups are great places to make friends. Facebook has over 2.8 billion users worldwide. Many Facebook groups are created that are based on sobriety. These groups will often host meetups and other activities. Another benefit of social media is active discussions. Even if you are not part of a local group, you may benefit from talking to other like-minded people. People often share their stories, challenges, and experiences, which is an opportunity to show support.
Instagram is another platform with an easy-to-find sober network. Hashtag searches will help you find thousands of posts that are inspirational and supportive. These platforms do not require you to completely reveal your identity or even reveal that you are in recovery. You can use them as inspiration tools even with an anonymous profile.
This website is a platform for people to meet friends with shared interests and hobbies. Meetup is a platform that allows you to make friends while filtering out specific topics, like “sobriety” or “non-drinkers.” By doing so, you can plan activities with people that are supportive and potentially going through a similar phase in life.
Meetup hosts gatherings that range from meditation and yoga to food touring and business networking. As previously mentioned, making new friends who are not in recovery is just as valuable as making friends in recovery. It’s essential to be able to tell which friends genuinely care about supporting your sober life after rehab.
Tips for Recovery
Making sober friends is an integral part of a successful recovery. True friends will hold you accountable and make you feel understood when you face challenges in your life and recovery. Life after rehab can be fulfilling and exciting. Some of the best friendships are deeply rooted through shared difficult experiences.
Finding friends may seem overwhelming. The most uncomfortable part is putting yourself out there. Once you can manage to put yourself in a position to make friends, you may find that you attract supportive, like-minded people.
The Discovery Institute Can Help
If you’re ready to step outside of your comfort zone and start establishing new, honest relationships with sober friends throughout your own recovery journey, The Discovery Institute is here to help! Give us a call to speak with an experienced addiction specialist today.
Dr. Joseph Ranieri D.O. earned his BS in Pharmacy at Temple University School of Pharmacy in 1981 and His Doctorate Degree in Osteopathic Medicine at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1991. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and a Diplomate of the American Board of Preventive Medicine Addiction Certification. Dr. Ranieri has lectured extensively to physicians, nurses, counselors and laypeople about the Disease of Addiction throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 2012.