The road to recovery can often feel like a long and lonely one. You may have alienated yourself from friends and loved ones. Or perhaps, you find it’s difficult to be around them now that you’ve chosen sobriety. Not only that, you’ve been forced to cut ties with people who might have encouraged your addiction or who are encouraging it now. Who’s left?
Making new friends is already a sometimes challenging venture, but even more so when you can’t just be friends with the same people you once easily took to, or who took to you. Beginning, or rekindling, a healthy social life is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself on the journey to sobriety. And the good news is that, while bars are a common place for friends to meet, there are options well beyond these places. Read on to find some useful tips for addiction recovery:
1. Recovery Groups
One of the best sources of support you’ll find on your journey is being with others who are also recovering from alcohol addiction. They’ve been where you are, or maybe they are where you are right now. They’re likely seeking the same thing you are – social activities that don’t require you to spend your evenings trying to avoid drinking situations. Having a common goal is a big reason people stick together, so seek these groups out because you can at least count on the fact that you’ve got common goals.
2. Try a New Hobby
Think of something that’s always interested you, that you never had time for before because you were, well, doing other things. Have you wanted to give knitting or crocheting a go? What about breaking out the brushes and easel to take up painting? Maybe you’ve finally mustered up the courage to try horseback riding, scuba diving, or mushroom foraging. Look into clubs and organizations in your area that cater to these hobbies. If you can’t find a club, then start one yourself. Whatever you new hobby is, the focus will be more on the hobby itself, which will keep your mind and body engaged in positive ways.
3. Become More Active
Consider starting or overhauling your current fitness regimen. If solo activities aren’t your thing, find club sports in your community. There tend to be organized sports happening all year long. There are team sports like basketball, soccer and flag football. If you like a nice mix of solo and social, try cycling, running, or walking groups. Getting more exercise will increase your endorphins, and thus make you feel better on a regular basis. If you haven’t been active, it will be a bonus if you’re able to tone up or shed extra weight in the process.
4. Religious Groups
Church might never have been your cup of tea before, and it doesn’t have to be now. Keep in mind, however, that many religious groups—from small groups and classes at a church, to volunteer opportunities—are specifically designed to bring people together and encourage relationships. As an added bonus, many of these groups have policies prohibiting alcohol, so you won’t have to be stressed out about the possibility of it showing up.
5. Reach Out to Long-Lost and Former Friends
It may be awkward at first to reach out to people who knew you before you became an alcoholic, or even more so to those who you damaged your relationship with during your addiction. Reaching out to them now, however, is a great way to start rebuilding those friendships. In many cases, they might not know how and when to reach out to you. You can even invite them to join you for new activities, or morning gatherings for coffee or tea. Start off slow. Depending on the nature of your relationship and the reasons you lost touch, you might need to ease into it so both parties are comfortable.
Early in your journey to sobriety, you may find that it’s difficult to find social activities that you don’t associate with drinking. Game nights with friends, concerts, and sporting events were all drinking opportunities in the past, right? Over time, however, you’ll rebuild your social circle, change your associations, and discover that there’s a whole new world awaiting you.