When you returned from addiction treatment, you most likely made it a point to rid your new lifestyle of any and all things that would influence you to use again, including certain friends. Aside from their potential to cause danger to your recovery, old friends may not have much in common with you anymore. So, in order to stave off loneliness – a dangerous emotion to have in early recovery – you should establish new, healthy friendships. Here are a few tips to help you find a friend who will support your sobriety:
It’s perfectly fine to have friends who have never experienced addiction and aren’t completely sober. However, you should consider where you are in your sobriety before you develop such friendships. If you feel you are in a strong place and have spoken to your sponsor or counselors about this issue, then spending occasional time with someone who drinks casually isn’t going to make you relapse. In any case, you must safeguard yourself by having set rules in place when hanging out with non-sober individuals.
Some rules could be:
- Some places are off limits. If a place isn’t conducive to a sober lifestyle or the main focus is alcohol consumption (bars, wine tastings, and parties where you know people will be drinking heavily), you should make it clear that you can’t go.
- Your companion is not allowed to get drunk. You should never keep friends or want to establish a friendship with anyone who isn’t going to respect your sobriety. Again, you need to be vigilant about your recovery and know what type of behavior will affect you negatively.
- Your friend doesn’t expect you to skip important appointments to hang out. You should never get in the habit of skipping an AA or NA meeting to go meet your friends — no matter how great the time sounds like it’s going to be. Your sobriety always comes first. Make sure you let your friends know the importance of meetings as well as your schedule of the days and times you go, so that plans can be made around the meetings. This way you won’t feel like you are missing out on a good time with your friends, and they won’t feel like you are ignoring them.
Meet New Friends at Sober Events
Sober events are a great place to meet friends in recovery. Find sober events that sound fun or interesting to you, and you will have plenty of opportunities to meet people who understand what it’s like to be on a journey of recovery. Sober events can range from bowling parties to excursions abroad and are specifically organized to show individuals in all stages of recovery that you can still have fun and enjoy life completely sober.
Understand that Nurturing Friendships Are Important to Your Recovery
Friendships are actually a very important piece of your recovery. In the early stages of recovery, it is vital to develop a good support network. Not only that, but negative feelings, like loneliness and boredom, have the potential to trigger relapse. The right sober friends can help you stay strong in your recovery by giving you advice on what has worked for them and what hasn’t. They can ultimately become a healthy source of strength for you. They will be able to provide their support for when you need it most — and you will absolutely need that support through life’s ups and downs.