Recovery from substance use is a tumultuous time. You’re sure to face challenges, like the pain of withdrawal and the stress of unanticipated triggers, as well as tricky transitions that could include housing arrangements and career changes.
During the period from your last use to stable sobriety, your normal life is bound to shift in some major ways. One of the most important changes is the change that occurs in your social circles. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to maintain sobriety without meeting new friends and fostering a sober community.
In this guide to making sober friends, we’ll explain the importance of social circles that are substance-free and how to make new friends while in recovery.
The importance of sober friends
There are plenty of reasons why prioritizing sober friendships should be a priority during rehab and treatment. Here are a few ways that sober friends can benefit you.
Old friends who have continued substance use habits while you attempt to break free from addiction aren’t likely to be as serious about your goals as you are. Even those who genuinely care for you are still mentally entrapped by their own addictions and won’t be helpful when you’re focusing on avoiding triggers.
Relationships from your substance abuse days may invite you to gatherings where there will be drugs or alcohol, encourage you to reward your progress with a “one-time” use, or tempt you to relapse by consuming drugs in your presence.
Sober friends, on the other hand, can help keep you accountable for your recovery goals. Also, they won’t have connections to other drug users and are likely to run into sober social circles themselves.
Friends who are not involved in substance use will not enable you to use. Trying to hang around the same friends from your substance use days will be nearly impossible, as their behavior will enable you to return to drug use. Simply being around someone who uses is a subtle but alluring invitation to return to an addiction.
Sober friends are less likely to develop enabling or co-dependent relationships because drugs are not a complicating variable. With both parties in your relationship free from the effect of mind-altering chemicals, you’ll know the relationship is based on true mutual sentiments rather than drug-induced dependence.
Your sober community, even if some individuals have previously struggled with substance use, will be strongly opposed to substance use and the effect it could have on your friendship. If your friends are aware of an impending relapse and have noticed warning signs in your behavior, they may intervene.
Friends from your past who used substances are less likely to be on guard against relapse or to be as passionate about avoiding it. In fact, old friends may have attempted to get sober themselves and experienced relapse in their own journeys. Hanging around these people will be counterproductive to your sobriety and will jeopardize the progress you’ve made.
Support for tough days
Once you communicate openly about your recovery, it’s natural that your sober friends will want to provide support in whatever ways they can. Your new community can help you on tough days by talking things through over a phone call, distracting you from triggers or participating in a coping skill with you.
Friends in recovery
Making friends in your treatment programs has both pros and cons, and the judgment call on whether to solidify these friendships is up to you. Generally, it is safe to make friends in recovery programs as you’ll find solace in like-minded peers.
Meeting new friends at recovery centers can provide important comradery, since few others in your life may understand the difficulty of overcoming addiction. You can find strength in these communities and receive advice and encouragement that you can’t find elsewhere.
Keep in mind that making friends in recovery does have downsides. Chances are that those you meet in your treatment programs are at a similar point in recovery, and are likely facing as many struggles as you are. If a friend relapses, it can open an opportunity for you to relapse as well, so be sure to stay on guard against a friendship that looks like it could head down that route.
How to make new friends in recovery
Use these tips for meeting new friends to change your outlook on relationships and sobriety that last.
1. Meet friends in substance-free settings
Finding new friends at the bar isn’t smart when you’re hoping to avoid social groups that drink heavily. Aim to meet people in neutral settings without the presence of drugs or alcohol, such as a climbing gym, a local soccer team or an art class.
2. Attend 12-step meetings
Participating in maintenance programs will boost your recovery and introduce you to sober friends. You can connect with others who have been in your shoes and find tried-and-true guidance for avoiding relapse. Attending meetings regularly should help you quickly make new friends.
3. Follow your interests
The easiest way to make friends fast is to follow your interests. Whether you’re into painting figurines for board games or extreme mountain biking, when you find a hobby that includes a niche community, you’ll find it’s easy to make friends. You’ll have plenty to talk about even at an initial meeting, and the shared interest in quickly bonding.
Professional help for substance use recovery
While you’re learning how to find sober friends, it’s important to maintain your involvement in treatment. To make life-long sobriety stick, get professional care through Silvermist Recovery. Find a program built for you and contact Silvermist Recovery now.