Making Friends in Sobriety
Early sobriety and early recovery from addiction or alcoholism can be an uncomfortable, scary time. You are newly sober, feeling pretty raw with emotions and dealing with life for the first time in a long time without the crutch of drugs and alcohol. Early sobriety can be lonely and unless you take some action into creating relationships, learning to have fun and enjoy life while sober, that loneliness can turn into frustration and depression and can ultimately set you up for a relapse. Nobody wants to be sober and miserable. The whole point of recovery is to learn how to be happy AND sober. What a concept, right? Therefore, it’s important to learn how to make friends, cultivate relationships and create bonds while in early recovery.
Here are 5 tips for making friends in early sobriety:
1. Get involved in a 12 Step fellowship. This means more than going to Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotic Anonymous meetings. Yes, this does mean attending meetings but also getting involved. Get a sponsor. Get a home group and a job at that home group. Go out for coffee before the meeting with people and to dinner after the meeting. Go to recovery conferences and events. Fellowshipping means way more than going to meetings. The bonds of friendship occur outside the rooms, with the people you meet in the room.
2. Engage in alumni and after care activities. If you went to rehab or treatment, just don’t cut ties immediately after discharge. Continual involvement in alumni or after care activities will make it easier to make friends, especially with people that have had a similar experience to you because they also went through the same treatment center. Make plans with other people in after care. Offer to be a sober support for someone still in treatment and take them out on pass.
3. Find your sober hobbies. Most people that get sober begin to find they enjoy activities that they hadn’t really engaged in while they were in active addiction. That could mean exercise, yoga, writing, music. It could mean 100 different things, but find those things you like to do and are passionate about, and then seek out others that enjoy doing the same things. Go to the gym or yoga classes or spin classes and engage with people there.
4. Don’t be scared to break your anonymity. For many people, early sobriety means dealing with the emotions of guilt and shame that come from their active addiction. Many people are terrified that other people will find out that they had a problem with drugs or alcohol (FYI- most people already know) or that they are now sober. Many people in 12 Step fellowships confuse anonymity with secrecy; that they cannot or will not disclose their recovery. This is inaccurate. While one should be careful not to disclose a specific fellowship they attend in a public forum, it is absolutely okay to say that you are now sober or in early recovery. You will be amazed at how many people will reach out to you and you will probably be surprised at how many people are in recovery that you had no idea about.
5. Be honest, open and transparent. Honesty, openness and transparency are core principles of recovery and they will serve you well when interacting with people, both in the rooms and in every day society. People value vulnerability. People value genuineness. If you are fearful, scared, angry, jealous or stressed then share that with people. If you are excited, happy and enthusiastic, share that as well. People will invariably meet you where you are at and share their own emotional stuff with you. That is how bonds are made, trust is built and friendships are born.
Do not be ashamed of being lonely or uncomfortable in early addiction recovery. Everyone goes through it. However, nobody is going to get you out of that loneliness but you. Nobody is going to make the effort but you. Working through that discomfort of meeting people and making friends is part of early sobriety and it will serve you extremely well in the future. But it is up to you. You need to put yourself out there, take action and show up and be uncomfortable for a little while. Have patience and be persistent. Be open and honest and willing. There is no doubt that if you show up and make the effort it will be reciprocated and you will find remarkable people and create lifelong friendships.
If you or someone you know is in need of help because of drug and/or alcohol abuse or addiction, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment in the Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on all of our drug addiction and alcohol addiction services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.