Where Will I Make New Friends?
Going through detox and treatment can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you stay for an extended period of time at a residential treatment facility. The chances are that your social life will look very different from now on. You might hear therapists and counselors tell you to avoid certain friends who live a lifestyle of substance use. Such friendships can be triggers for you. It is without a doubt that the decision to begin treatment and recovery will cost you some friends. These might be people with whom you used to drink alcohol and use drugs. By saying yes to recovery, you are saying no to their (and your previous) lifestyle.
Upon ending your stay at the treatment center, you might wonder: How will I make new friends? How do meaningful friendships happen? These questions are natural and healthy. They are a sign that you value friendship and you are ready to start over. You know very well about the downside of isolation, so making new friends is part of a new mission in the next phase of life.
How Long Does It Take to Rebuild My Social Network?
Making new friends will be a matter of time for most people. Think back on your weeks of stay at the treatment center. You most likely have already made a group of awesome new friends. Maintain those friendships because they already know you to a certain extent. Your 12-step support group can be a place to start. Invite a few group members to hang out. Check on how they are adjusting to recovery life. You were trained on certain principles together, so it would be easy to engage in sober activities together.
In your daily life, allow yourself to naturally integrate, whether it is at school, work, or other social occasions. Remember the relationship skills coaching tips you had from counseling, and practice them. The key is to always keep healthy boundaries and sobriety at the forefront of your mind. Look for people who also value sobriety and mental health.
Why Is It Important to Make Sober Friends?
You might have already learned from your counselors that it is important to avoid people who live an addictive lifestyle and make friends with those who value sobriety. But why is that important? Shouldn’t we treat everyone as equals? The truth is, at your early stage of sobriety, hanging out with sober friends means fewer triggers and temptations to use drugs or alcohol. It would be best if you considered your vulnerability at this stage, and your long-term recovery depends on this selective way of socializing.
Your sober friends are more likely to have a normal social life because they do not invest much time into substance use. They are also more likely to have positive emotional energy that can influence you to have a positive outlook on life. In early sobriety, you need to surround yourself with healthy people who exhibit an everyday life that you long to grow into. Apart from your recovering peers from the treatment center, they can be your second-tier support network.
How Do I Act When Making New Friends?
Recovery means that you almost need to re-invent yourself. Years of substance use may have distorted your self-esteem and self-image. Your social skills may have withered because of isolation. Nevertheless, remember that making friends can be easy. Little children do it all the time. While in recovery, you need to remind yourself of what kind of person you want to become. That also means before making new friends, you need to get in touch with yourself. Discover who you are at this stage of life. Make peace with yourself despite all the mistakes and missed opportunities in the past. Until you restore a healthy self-image, it will be challenging to rebuild a healthy social network.
With new friends, you would not want to hide who you are. Be honest about your history of addiction, and allow that to become a transformative part of you. The fact that you have achieved sobriety can be something to celebrate. Addiction and recovery can also bring out humility and compassion in a person too. You have known human vulnerability to a much deeper extent than your peers. You are willing to actively listen because you have been listened to during treatment. You offer hope because that has kept you going.
Lastly, because of the unwavering support of friends and families, you have achieved sobriety. You are now a person who values authentic relationships. Bring that value to your new friends. A good friend reciprocates in the same fashion. Even if you fail in forming new friendships, do not let this overwhelm you. You can always learn something about yourself and move on.
Do you or a loved one worry about re-entering your social life after treatment? Are you anxious about making new friendships work? During early sobriety, making new friends can indeed be a daunting task. This issue has also been a neglected one. At South Florida Intervention, our answer is simple: You need recovery coaching! Our experienced interventionists know how to coach you along the way. We have worked with many families and young people who have traveled this path. We welcome any questions from you about pre-treatment or post-treatment plans. If you need help finding a treatment center, we are also experts in the industry. Our goal is to find a tailor-made plan that best meets your needs. Our intervention services also include parent coaching, case management, and sober escort. We consider every client's unique personality, personal history, and medical needs. Come and team up with us. Call us at (202) 390-2273.