Relapse is not uncommon. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60 percent of drug abusers currently in a treatment program or in recent recovery experience at least one relapse episode. Only after completing approximately five years of seemingly endless recovery do former users approach an 85% chance of achieving lifetime sobriety. The road is long, there is no doubt, but you don’t have to travel it alone.
Why Make New Friends?
Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction takes a toll on your body. The desire to make new friends is probably one of the last things on your mind, if it’s there at all. But building a network of new friends is one of the best ways to make sure you stay clean. A strong support network including people who won’t judge you for poor decisions you’ve made in the past will give you someone to turn to when the temptation of relapse calls out to you on a particularly rough night.
Spending time with new friends also helps keep you away from old friends who may promote or even enable your drug or alcohol addiction. It’s difficult to cut ties with old friends, especially if they helped you cope with some tough times; but being around them is likely to trigger unpleasant memories and increase your risk of relapse. This is likely not a risk worth taking, as it can destroy any chances of healing your relationships with sober friends and family members and building a brighter future.
How to Make Sober Friends
1. Join a Support Group
In early addiction recovery, you may feel reluctant and unwilling to admit you are struggling or to express how you feel, especially among a group of strangers. And that’s okay. Attending a support group is about more than just expressing your feelings—it’s about realizing you’re not alone, that others are dealing with similar struggles and need just as much support as you as they finally take control of their lives and say no to their addictions.
You have something in common with these individuals, and together you can help one another stay clean and create a better future. It is reassuring and even motivating to know that someone who is sincerely willing to support you is merely a phone call away, even at three o’clock in the morning. Attending a support group regularly is a great way for you to build that type of relationship.
2. Invest in a Hobby
Taking up a hobby is more than just collecting paperclips or birdwatching on the weekends. It’s a great way to spend time doing something you enjoy, time you may have otherwise spent sitting around and, pre-recovery, getting wasted. Not only is it a better use of your time, it’s an excellent way to meet others who share your interests.
Reading is a more entertaining alternative for escaping reality than getting high or drunk. You can do it on your own or volunteer to read to young students or the elderly. Consider joining a book club, where you can view stories from other people’s points of views and develop relationships with fellow readers. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn your family history. Research your ancestors online to build your family tree and connect with relatives you didn’t know you had while discovering more about your heritage. Take photography classes. There are literally hundreds of hobbies to choose from.
3. Participate in Sober Activities
Instead of going clubbing or reconnecting with your old pals with drug or alcohol addictions, consider taking part in activities that keep you out and about and in good company.
Ever wanted to further your education? Now would be the perfect time. Taking classes helps fill your spare time with subjects you’re interested in. With the countless classes you can take, homework requires a good portion of your time, as well. Get together with people from your classes to form study groups or just to hang out. There are so many things to see and do for free as well, where you can meet others with similar interests. Go to local festivals in the summertime. Google nearby towns for ideas on where to go and what to see. Explore historical sites. Visit art museums. The options are endless.
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