The best thing about starting over in recovery is that you get an opportunity to put your life back together in a way that is more beneficial than what happened during your addiction. Starting your life over in recovery, however, can be lonely. Changing your playgrounds and playmates can be difficult to fathom, although you will need to protect your sobriety in any way you can. This means you will need to find new friends who support your recovery instead of ones who may peer-pressure you to continue drinking and using.
Finding new friends can be daunting, to say the least. You might even believe that you should be a loner, so you can avoid having to go through the process of selecting new friends. What you need to remember is that you did not get sober to go through life alone. You got sober to live life to the fullest, and when you have others in tow, healthy relationships can actually enhance your recovery. You may discover that you are held back from making friends because you do not remember how to start friendships without the social lubricant that drugs and alcohol provides.
Even if you are the biggest introvert around, reaching out to others first is important. You have to give the people in your recovery program a chance to get to know you better. Since you are already bonded by sobriety, talking to a stranger in the name of service should make it much easier to connect. Introduce yourself first and get the ball rolling. Chances are they will admire your confidence and reciprocate your friendliness.
You probably had friends that you hung out with based on the fact that you both drank and used addictively. Being under the influence means that you are not being who you really are — just who you are when you are drunk and high. Giving new friends the raw and vulnerable version of yourself goes a long way in building a foundation in your friendship. Instead of giving people what you think they want, just show them the wonderful you!
Being in a lifestyle of addiction is pretty hardcore with hopelessness. Whether you have been hard on yourself or others have expressed they are fed up with your behavior, being encouraging to others in your recovery gives you an opportunity to spiritually energize yourself. Assuring a friend will innately allow you to become a kinder and gentler person, which is an attractive quality to demonstrate.
Obviously, you want to be in a friendship where you are heard, although first, you should start by listening to them. Giving them the floor so they can open up and share about what is going on with them will build some trust between you. Dominating the conversation can be a turn-off when someone is looking for more of a 50/50 dialogue exchange. Of course, some people will only want to listen. Feel out the territory in your newfound relationship and try to attend to their needs, as well as your own.
If someone wants to make plans with you and you always decline, you might make them feel rejected. If you are always dodging their calls or texts, they might be under the impression that you are not interested in nurturing the relationship. Even if you are a homebody who hates using a phone, you may need to alter your perspective. You will need people in your recovery, and when you push them away, you may not get a chance to redeem yourself. Start now and say “yes” when you can and pick up the phone rather than being in fear of what to say. In order to establish a friendship, you have to show up in the relationship. Call them to see how they are doing or invite them to attend a meeting with you. Do something that shows them that you want to be friends and you will solidify your friendship through your open availability.
Friendships that are based on navigating recovery can become lifelong. By staying sober, you are opening up yourself to others, who are also sober, to band together for a great cause — recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Being able to relate to another person based on feeling the same way and going through the same circumstances due to your alcohol and drug addiction will connect you more than anything. You will wind up helping each other more because you share a common peril that you both seek the solution for.
Above all, to make friends in recovery, you have to have fun with one another. Getting sober takes work, but you need to find joy in your life. You will realize that having others to share in your happiness is what recovery is all about.
Valiant Living can help to find enjoyment in your life with others who are also in recovery. If you are struggling with addiction to drugs and alcohol, we offer a full range of recovery and mental health services including our “Expanded Recovery.” We want to give you the tools you need to stop a relapse before it happens so you can trudge the road of happy destiny with us by your side. Call us today for more information: 303-536-5463