Many people in early recovery have concerns about developing new friendships. After all, the friendships we made while we were using are generally with others who use alcohol or drugs the same way we did. There may have been fun times, but continuing those friendships will hurt our chances at continuing our newfound recovery.
It’s a long journey from actively using to having a great social life in recovery, but those we want to share our lives with are vital components of mental, physical, and social health for everyone, especially for those in the recovering community. But it’s only helpful if these friends are going to be a supporting asset to your recovery.
The protective aspect of having a community of supporters behind us profoundly benefits people in recovery. Our social support group might help us with school or work problems, concerns at home, and provide social resources. There’s nothing quite like a friend who knows what you went through.
In the simplest terms, recovery rates are higher for those who have friends, are employed, have families, and who have other responsibilities. That’s why it’s so important for treatment programs to provide an alumni program to help people with getting back into a productive life and not just focusing on ending their substance use disorder.
Recovery is the path to a better life, and treatment can start you on the road to recovery, but the path is often challenging and stressful. So, making new supportive friends has always been important for people to achieve long-term recovery, especially when formal treatment ends. High relapse rates, even after good treatment, often result from a failure to develop recovery management skills and a strong social support network of others in recovery.
Take ownership of your continued recovery from alcohol and drug problems as well as your health and wellness by building on the strengths and resilience of individuals, families, and communities who are there to support you!
Here are some ways to identify who might be in your circle of support:
SOCIAL and FAMILY: Who’s been willing to participate in your recovery journey? Who supports you not using drugs or alcohol? Family and friends from school, the job, church, and other resources can all be part of your sober support network.
COMMUNITY: Recovery residences, local AA clubhouses, your place of worship, continued outpatient treatment, alumni meetings, support groups, and sponsors, and recovery community centers, can all be part of your support network
HEALTHY ACTIVITIES: The gym’s a great place to meet new people who share your values about fitness and healthy living. Seek out those who share your interest in a healthy lifestyle, take cooking classes, learn about nutrition, etc.
Do a check-up on these areas of your life. It’s all part of a recovery movement driven by strengths. Sharing your strengths in recovery lets you show others that the pathway to sustained recovery comes more with gathering resources, and supportive relationships with others than with anything else. Engage with your family if they are supportive, develop your sober community, put a big emphasis on relationships and community integration, and keep your focus on well-being and quality of life and soon you’ll be living the life of your dreams!