It used to be that when you were at a party, it was drinking and drug use that brought people together. By sharing in the experience of having a beer or playing a drinking game, you perhaps felt connected to others. Perhaps you felt a sense of belonging.
However, when you’re in recovery, the way to connect with others changes. You’re no longer bonding through substances; instead, you can connect through sobriety. And the place to begin to make friends in this way is in your sober community. Perhaps you are attending a 12-step group, living at a sober living home, or participating in a support group. Whenever you have the opportunity to spark a new conversation, do so. Whenever you feel the slightest connection with someone also working on sobriety, perhaps find the courage to ask them to lunch.
One of the most important parts of recovery is having the support around you to face those challenging moments. And if you’re early in your recovery, there’s a good chance that you have more friends who are still using substances versus friends who are sober. So, now’s the time to make friends and establish new connections.
And the fact that you have sobriety in common may make finding new friends easier. There’s a mutual respect, a kindness that you both show one another, because of similarities in the journey you share. You might be able to more easily trust that he or she is going to be there for you if you call for help. And together you may even be able to laugh with each other over the silly moments on your journey through recovery. When you have a friend in your life, everything seems easier.
Here are a few ways to approach those you may want to be friends with in your sober community:
Volunteer at your 12-step group – When you volunteer, you’re often asked to arrive early and/or leave a little later than everyone else. Before and after meetings are a great time to begin a conversation with someone. And often these conversations happen naturally when setting up for a meeting or taking things down. Volunteering immediately puts you in touch with others who care about sobriety too.
Be brave and ask someone out for coffee or tea – If you didn’t want to volunteer, but you want to make friends, you may simply need to muster up the courage to approach people. Perhaps you’ve seen someone at meetings, or perhaps you’ve even had one or two conversations with them. Lots of other people feel just as uncomfortable about reaching out and making new friends as you do. If you have the courage you can be the one to break the ice. The worst that person can do is say no and at least you’ve tried. And on the other hand, if he or she says yes, then perhaps you’ve got a new friendship in your life.
Make it a point to introduce yourself. If you don’t have the courage to ask someone out for lunch, you can at least introduce yourself. Sometimes, friendships form simply when people see you enough. When you’re introducing yourself whether it’s at support groups or 12-step meetings, your face will become more and more familiar and people will be more willing to open up to you.
These are suggestions for forming new sober relationships. When you have recovery in common, you may immediately have something that no two other people share. Plus, recovery is hard to do alone. Having friends in your life eases the journey of recovery.
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