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According to a 2020 study by health insurer Cigna, loneliness can be a common challenge for three out of five Americans, and this can be particularly true of those who are in the early stages of sobriety. Many people may find themselves in a kind of limbo – having made the decision to cut ties with old friends who they used to drink or use with in the past but are now finding that they are unsure of how to make new, supportive sober friendships, and you might find yourself in a similar situation once you begin your recovery journey.
Unfortunately, it can seem like making new friends is more difficult as an adult than it was when you were a kid. However, there are plenty of ways to connect with like-minded people who have also decided that life in recovery is the way to go. Below are several options you can try to begin building your new network of sober friendships.
1. Join Online Support Groups.
There are many online support groups you can join based on your interests and recovery goals, and social media platforms like Facebook can be a good place to start. These groups can provide excellent resources as well as a sense of belonging, which you may find that you often need in the beginning stages of sobriety.
For example, utilizing hashtags on Instagram can be a great way to find new groups that share a common interest in recovery. Searching for topics like #recovery, #sobriety, #soberliving, and related terms will bring up many different groups that can lead you to connect with other sober people who you may otherwise have never crossed paths with in your everyday life. Over time, you’ll likely find yourself forming friendships with these people as they also understand the struggles of recovery, and you will be able to help each other make it through them together.
2. Keep Sober Friendships Made in Treatment Active
If you have been through a substance abuse rehab treatment program, you may already be aware that new friendships made in the facility can help carry you through some difficult times in rehab. It is recommended that you focus on your own recovery first, but you may find a degree of comfort in confiding with a few other people who are going through a similar situation at the same time. This can lead to a lasting bond that may help carry you through any struggles in longer term recovery. Some benefits of building (and keeping up) friendships in treatment are:
- Companionship During Hard Times – The rehab process may be both physically and emotionally painful, and friendships forged in this atmosphere typically become stronger as these friends have seen each other at their worst. Friends who you meet in a treatment setting are often willing to drop everything to help you through difficult times in your recovery.
- Lifelong Sobriety Support – Treatment friends will understand what you’re going through, having been there themselves, and this can lead to a shared lifelong support system.
- Sober Fun – Bonds formed in rehab can also be shared outside of treatment, and many who make friends during the recovery process often get together for sober fun such as watching movies, traveling together, or meeting for dinner.
Related post: 5 Types of People in Recovery
3. Attend New AA or 12-Step Meetings
When getting to know your fellow AA members in a new setting, try to learn more about their favorite hobbies and interests. As you spend more time together in a rehab setting or at AA meetings, your friendship may reach a point where you both feel comfortable pursuing your shared interests outside of meetings.
When talking to new people at meetings, spend more time with individuals who are truly listening to you. Great friends are often great listeners who will give you their full, undivided attention when you speak. They listen without trying to change the subject, passing judgment, or being pushy about their own thoughts and feelings.
Another part of going to AA or 12-Step meetings is learning how to accept yourself and others for who they are. The people you meet at AA often share similar struggles associated with overcoming substance abuse and understand how difficult it can be to navigate the world while trying to stay sober.
4. Attend Classes
If your education was interrupted by your addiction, or if it never got off the ground at all despite your intentions, enrolling in classes at a university or community college is a great way to learn new skills and meet new friends.
If continuing formal education isn’t for you, consider looking for an enrichment or leisure class that interests you. It could be anything from a cooking class, an art class, a photography workshop, or an outdoors skills class. You’ll be meeting regularly with people who already share a common interest, and working on projects together is a perfect way to begin a new friendship.
Volunteering is something that is already good for your mental health and well-being and can also help you make new sober friends. Volunteering is a means of being a part of something bigger by making a tangible contribution to your community and can provide you with a sense of purpose.
It’s also a great way to meet people who share your values and commitment to helping. As with other suggestions on this list, volunteering puts you in frequent contact with people with shared interests. People also generally tend to feel good about volunteering, and this can create a positive association with the people they meet while doing so.
Related post: Why Have An Addiction Recovery Community?
Reach Out When You Need Help
The journey of sobriety is bound to have a few missteps along the way, but having strong sober friendships that form a solid support network can keep you heading in the right direction. If you feel that you need additional support in your recovery process, please call Nova Recovery Center at (888) 427-4932 or contact us online today.