September is National Recovery Month. I am pleased to share an article written by Michelle Peterson who believes the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride. Her mission is aligned with that of RecoveryPride, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it.
Experts agree that people in addiction recovery require three things: social connection, motivation to keep on keeping on the path of sobriety, and confidence that they know how to cope with their struggles. Avoiding the places and people associated with your past substance abuse is difficult, but it’s crucial in preventing a relapse. Of course, feeling lonely, especially when you’re fresh in your sobriety, can also make it hard to avoid relapse. That’s why forming new friendships is vital to your sobriety success. Additionally, healthy friendships improve your physical and mental health. Luckily, there are ways to help you find friendships that will promote and support sobriety, which can also help you find motivation and confidence.
Meetup.com is an online forum that helps people find one another based on common interests. They can then meet face to face to partake in their shared interests. The site claims that members meet and “talk, help, mentor, and support each other – all in pursuit of moving their lives forward,” which sounds exactly like what someone in addiction recovery needs. There are thousands of Meetups with interests in almost everything from parenthood to yoga to coding to baking. There are even sobriety-themed Meetup groups. Try searching your local area within a 20-mile radius, and use terms such as “sober,” “sobriety,” or “non-drinkers.”
You can also utilize Meetup to find people with other shared interests that are centered on bettering themselves or the community. For example, you could search for groups that are interested in exercise, meditation, or volunteering. People who place emphasis on these types of interests are unlikely to revolve their lives around a bar or attending parties. If you can’t find a group close to you that sparks your interest, consider starting one.
Scoping Out People
This brings up the second piece of advice: “look for friends that align with your spirit, not your sobriety.” One solution to growing your social circle is to not always look for sobriety as a requirement. Instead, look for signs that your life paths and passions align, whether it’s a passion for photography, a drive to fight for social justice, or a love for yoga. Friendships based on common passions are likely to be rewarding and lasting. Not everyone who shares your interests or core beliefs will be sober, but chances are that if you share an alignment based on your life paths or passions, they either don’t drink or use drugs or they don’t place a high value on being under the influence.
Meeting new friends is going to involve putting yourself out there. But if you try to base these meetings on common ground and shared interests, you’re guaranteed to have a conversation starter. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t step outside of your comfort zone. Attend a networking event, ask to have coffee with a stranger, or travel by yourself to a new city. You never know where or how you could meet a new friend. Taking these kinds of healthy risks can enrich and expand your life.
There are many activities and events you can get involved in or attend that allow you to meet new friends without being tempted by drugs or alcohol. You can sign up for a yoga session, attend a personal development workshop, volunteer in your community, and more. As previously mentioned, these types of activities will surround you with people who are also trying to better themselves or put good back into the world.
You can also use other interests, such as a pet, to facilitate low-pressure interactions with people. For example, you can take your dog for a walk or to the dog park. Having a guaranteed conversation starter and your dog by your side can help you feel more confident in your social skills. If you aren’t ready for dog ownership or can’t have a dog, consider signing up with a dog walking service to walk other people’s dogs. Not only will you have the social opportunity at the dog park, but you’ll also have a way to earn extra income.
While it’s difficult to say goodbye to old friends and put yourself out there for new friends, it’s fundamental to your success in staying sober. If you’re struggling, try to follow the advice above. Use technology to your advantage, find people with common interests, step outside your comfort zone, and get involved in events and activities that you might enjoy.