Going from an addiction to sobriety can be like crossing a tumultuous river. You might be starting out on risky shores and you know you need to get to the safe shore of sobriety. But in between, there are a number of changes you’ll have to make, and one of them may have to be finding new friendships.
You might very well have many friends. However, if many of them were those you drank or used substances with, then spending time with them in early recovery might be dangerous. Even if you got together without the intention of using drugs or drinking, the risk of substance use may still be there. Although you might greatly appreciate your friendships, you might also realize that in order to stay sober, you’re going to have to find new people to spend your time with.
In fact, finding new friendships can not only support your sobriety, it can also support your feelings of confidence, resiliency, and strength, which can be help prevent relapse. A recent study done in England found that friends can help a person find the positive side to problems and they can also help with strategizing and planning. The research study examined the quality of the friendships in a psychological assessment. In various ways, the assessment measured the a person’s level of resilience when faced with challenges and how they coped with those challenges both within and without friends. People of both genders found that their closest friendships helped them deal effectively with the problems they faced. The results revealed that friends provided emotional support, which helped people develop skills and resilience so that they could meet the challenges they faced. In short, the research found that friends can help build resilience in a person.
Having supportive friends can be particularly important in early recovery. During this tumultuous time, it’s important to have people around you who are caring, accepting, and non-judgmental. It’s important to have people around you who can understand what you’re going through. If you’re in early recovery and you’re looking for some new, sober friends to make, here are a few ways to do that:
- Attend an AA or another 12 step meeting.
- Join a club or sports team.
- Go back to school.
- Reconnect with old friends on Facebook.
- Attend a community event.
- Volunteer at a local agency.
- Join an online forum.
- Makes amends with family members.
- Join a recovery fellowship group.
- Participate in a support group.
Another important benefit to having friends is that they can prevent from feeling lonely. One major trigger that can cause relapse is the feeling of loneliness. However, even people who have many friends and acquaintances around them can feel lonely. This might be the result of an unresolved issue in one’s life or one’s perception of fitting in among friends. Exploring loneliness might be worthy discussion in therapy, especially if you have many friends around to support you.
Making new friendships in recovery is one significant way to gradually cross over from the shores of addiction to the safe shores of sobriety.
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