Letting go of an active addiction will be among one of the most radical life-changes you will ever make in your life. In all likelihood, a large part of your old life was defined by your habit, with many of your friends centered around your drug use. True recovery requires a radical overhaul of everything you knew, and that might be a scary thought. Letting go of your old way of life and old friends may feel like a huge loss and lead to feelings of loneliness or fear of isolation. Fortunately, you are not alone in your recovery. Making friends will support your recovery tremendously, and so there are many resources to help you find people. Here are some ways you can begin building up new circles of friendship and social support.
The easiest, and also the most important, bonds you will make are with people going through the same journey of recovery as you. The people walking in the recovery journey alongside you know what you are going through. Ideally, a recovery group should provide a safe space for you to share your deepest struggles, and find people who can connect with you. Through opening up to others and finding acceptance, you will develop strong friendships that will last a lifetime. Hanging out with former addicts can also give you advice and encouragement, as everyone shares what works for them to make the journey easier.
Exploring new interests:
The world is such a big place, and there are many fun things you can do with other people that don’t revolve around drinking or drug use. Simply sitting or standing around while everyone else drinks can get pretty boring and frustrating fast, so think up alternatives. Take the lead in suggesting new activities and things you can do with other people. Going outside, playing games, listening to music, seeing a movie or a play, doing a craft together – the possibilities for sober fun are truly endless.
Find opportunities to try new things with new people, be it chess, dancing, cooking, or anything else can allow you to meet interesting new people. There are a lot of possibilities for meetups and get togethers with new people, some may be specifically sober, while others may be open to everyone. Any opportunity to have fun with people and experience the joy of life drug- and alcohol-free can strengthen your resolve and help you build a fun, sober life. It can also connect you with other people, and build up your courage to connect with them and celebrate your strengths and gifts together.
Practice becoming comfortable:
At first, it may seem really uncomfortable trying to be in a social setting without the social network upon which you have grown dependent. However, introducing yourself and connecting with someone is something that will get easier with practice. You may feel self-conscious without a drink in your hand, but the reality most people probably won’t care or notice, they are too busy focusing on their own anxieties. Simply try introducing yourself and acknowledging a few people, and over time your anxiety will decrease and your confidence will increase.
Who not to hang out with:
Your close friends should be able to support you and encourage you in your sobriety, and listen non-judgmentally to whatever you feel comfortable sharing. Do not be so desperate for friendships that you stay with someone a drain on your energy, someone who doesn’t feel safe, or who doesn’t respect your boundaries or limits. If your friends drink, think carefully about what you can handle, and speak honestly about how they can be helpful to you and continue to include you. It might take time for you to feel comfortable being around references to alcohol or drug use without it triggering your own cravings. Anyone unwilling to listen to you and make adjustments out of respect for your struggles is not a true friend, and you are better off not being with them, for the sake of your sobriety and healing.