It is not uncommon for a newly sober individual to come to the realization that all or most of his or her “friends” are actually not in fact there when the going gets tough. It turns out that most of the buddies you used drugs and drank with on a regular basis were simply that – using buddies. You spent so much time under the influence that actually forming close interpersonal relationships was a skill left unrehearsed. Maybe you made it out with several close childhood friendships intact, but for the most part… you hate people. Okay, maybe hate is a strong word, but you certainly don’t know how to get along with them.
Make Friends in Early Sobriety
Making friends can be scary. It may seem awkward to initiate conversation with someone you have never met, and after so many years of wallowing in your own drug-induced fantasyland it may be difficult to recall how to relate to others. Fortunately, making friends in early sobriety is far easier than it may initially seem. It is important for you to remember that everyone is in the same boat. We have all suffered through the differing though identical hell that is substance dependency, and made it out the other side partially intact though severely emotionally damaged. We can relate to one another on this level, on the darkness that tends to go hand-in-hand with prolonged addiction. However, we can also make light of the dark to relate on a more cheerful level, poking fun at the struggles we have had in the past to remind one another that our histories need not define our futures.
We are also blessed with the venues to make friends easily and almost instantaneously. We don’t need to sit at bars and yell small talk over horrible music; we can go to a 12-step meeting and immediately be surrounded by at least 20 people we have something major in common with. It is suggested that individuals in early sobriety arrive at meetings half an hour early, and hang around for half an hour after the meeting ends. This results in a large group of early birds and stragglers who are more than happy to exchange phone numbers and discuss current events… aka, potential friends.
Remember That We Are All In This Together
Making friends in sobriety is easy – keeping friends can be relatively difficult. This is because treatment centers and halfway houses tend to be somewhat of revolving doors, with the unfortunate event of relapse wiping out new ‘friends’ on a regular basis. This is why it is suggested to befriend those who have significantly larger amounts of time than you do, those who tend to be a bit more stable in their recovery and who can serve as supports more so than potentially negative influences. When maintaining friendships in early sobriety, it is also important to practice forgiveness. Keep in mind that we are all on journeys of recovery, and we are all healing from years of self-inflicted damage and the loss that coincides with substance abuse. Although stepping outside of our comfort zones can be scary, the payoff is huge, and you are bound to make genuine connections that last a lifetime if you simply stop and say hello.