Widening the Circle
I’ve gone over the importance of a sober support network time and again in these blogs. And because it’s absolutely essential to a successful recovery program, I’m going to mention it one more time (at least for now.) The value of a close group of people who have been through some of the same things you have, and who know you and can spot your behaviors and habits even before you can cannot be overstated. With that out of the way, I’d like to start widening the circle a little bit. One of the aftereffects of getting sober is losing a sizable number of “friends” whose only real common ground with us was drinking or drugging. To make matters worse, many of us relied on the crutches of drugs or alcohol while in social situations. We’re left light on friends and lacking the skills to make new ones.
Making Friends Outside the Rooms
The first solution – and, no doubt, the one your sponsor will offer you – is to go to more meetings. And they’re right, at least for the first year or two. 12 step or alternative meetings are full of new faces with common experiences. Eventually, though, you’re going to want to broaden your horizons. While you may not want to spend all of your time in a bar or out in front of the laundromat anymore, you’re also not going to want to talk about triggers, self-will, or the 4th step every night. Fortunately, there are plenty of options beyond these two extremes.
Take a Class or Join a Group
Do you like to paint? Sweet! Take a class at the local community college. For a hundred bucks or so, you get to learn more about your hobby, get plenty of practice, AND meet a number of new people who share your passion. Alternately, you can join a group on MeetUp.com or similar website. A quick glance at the site as I’m writing shows over 50 events for tonight alone, all within 25 miles, ranging from billiards to belly dance to Bible study. What’s more, most of the folks attending these events are actively looking to meet new people.
Go to the Gym
This one is as much of an extension of the previous one as anything, but it wouldn’t be one of my blogs if I didn’t bring up the benefits of getting active. I guarantee that your local gym has all sorts of classes you could be taking. I’m almost as certain that your workout regimen has a weak spot or two (mine is cardio.) This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone.
Talk to Strangers
I know this flies in the face of the curriculum we studied in kindergarten. I also don’t necessarily recommend this if you’re living in New York City. However, a recent University of Chicago study touts the benefits of talking to strangers, pointing out lower stress levels and greater overall happiness. It may or may not lead to a new friend, but it doesn’t hurt to put yourself out there and we can all use less stress and more happiness.
Making friends as an adult can be difficult, whether you’re sober or not. But when you’ve spent years relying on chemicals to connect with people, it can seem nearly impossible. Like most things in recovery, however, it comes down to facing your fears and learning a new way. If your struggles with drugs or alcohol have cut you off from the rest of the world, or if someone close to you is suffering in isolation, please consider giving Ocean Recovery a call today. We have walked the same path you’re on and have found a new way. Contact us now and start building your foundation for hope.