By Jennifer McDougall
Recovery is an enriching process, but it can also be a lonely place. You have to give up many of the people, places, and things you used to enjoy—which might have contributed to your addiction in the first place. Therefore, it’s essential to recognize who your true friends are in recovery and find new ways to connect with others who can help you on your journey. Here are five ways I have found myself staying socially connected in recovery:
Recognize Who Your True Friends Are
As you begin to recognize who your true friends are, you’ll start to notice those people who aren’t serving you in the way they should. For example, some people in your life may act supportive regarding your recovery but don’t respect your boundaries. If someone asks if they can come over for a drink or wants to hang out at a bar with you and other friends, politely decline their invitation and explain why: “I’m not drinking right now.”
If this person then continues trying to pressure or guilt trip you into going even though they know it’s not what’s best for your recovery (or worse — tries to convince others that they’re pressuring or guilting YOU into doing something), then this is an example of someone who isn’t being supportive of your recovery.
You’ll need to decide whether or not these relationships are worth keeping in place while maintaining sobriety; sometimes, it may be better to cut ties entirely so there won’t be any temptation involved.
Be Open to New Friendships
It can be a challenge to meet new friends in recovery. If you’re like many people, approaching strangers and introducing yourself is uncomfortable. It might seem like something that’s too difficult to do right now, but there are ways to get around this barrier and start meeting new people. Here are some tips:
- Don’t be afraid to approach someone and introduce yourself when you’re out in public, especially in a social environment. No one will bite your head off if you say “hi” first – in fact, most people will appreciate the attention and attempt to engage in a light-hearted conversation with you.
- Smile at strangers but always use caution if you’re alone
- Post more on social media (share about your day, a pretty cafe you had coffee at, a picture of a beautiful landscape, a cute photo of your dog, or a video of your most recent hiking adventure).
- Engage with accounts on social media that resonate with you (@passagesmalibu or @soberempowerment).
- Get outside more often. Don’t stay cooped up in your house all day. This is especially hard for remote people who have everything they need in the comfort of their homes. Take your lunch to a local park with a friend, where you can enjoy some fresh air and casual conversation.
- Call a friend or family member to catch up on all the latest in each other’s lives.
- Join social groups that interest you, such as those centered around a particular hobby like reading, cooking, poetry writing, photography, art, hiking, vlogging, makeup, or crafting.
Be Proactive in Meeting People
- Take classes.
- Sign up to attend local or virtual events.
- Have coffee with a friend.
- Ask someone to lunch.
- Go to a concert or sporting event and meet new people there.
You can also be proactive in meeting people at work and church, which are great places to make friends with similar interests.
Volunteer for a Local Charity
Volunteering can be a great way to connect with people and give back to your community. It’s also one of the most effective ways to stay socially connected in recovery. The best part is that there are so many different types of organizations you can volunteer with, no matter your interests or skill set.
Here are some ideas:
- Donate blood at the American Red Cross Blood Donor Center
- Help out at a local animal shelter
- Work on behalf of local food banks or homeless shelters
- Do a beach clean up
It’s vital that when volunteering, you find something that means something to you personally—something where it feels like what matters most is not just doing good work but being able to do it alongside others who share your values.
Consider Joining a Book Club
Book clubs are a great way to stay socially connected and read more books. If you’re considering joining one, it can be helpful to make sure you enter the best book club. To do so:
Do a search on Meetup, Facebook groups, or even on Instagram and Twitter. There may also have traditional in-person options nearby where you live. Consider starting your own book club by creating a social media profile where you review books you have read or are currently reading and connect with other book lovers online.
Seek out positive people and build strong connections with them.
It’s crucial to have positive people in your life. The success of your recovery is not just about staying clean and sober but also about building strong connections with positive people who can help you stay on track.
Positive influences are significant in recovery because they help you focus on what’s good and right rather than what’s wrong or bad. In addition, they reinforce a positive environment, which allows you to feel more comfortable putting yourself out socially in the first place!
I recommend seeking out a mentor who has been through challenges in their life that might be similar to yours so they can help provide you with the proper support and wisdom to guide you in the right direction. Mentors are great in assisting us with things that come up and we aren’t sure how to deal with. They can help calm our storms and put things in perspective before we spiral or make a hasty decision.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful and that it has given you some ideas for how to stay socially connected in recovery. Remember, the most important thing is to keep working on yourself so that you too can be a wonderful friend to others who lean on you, which means taking care of your physical and mental health.