It’s an amazing thing to witness the recent shifts in social attitudes towards addiction. While there still remains a social stigma attached to being an alcoholic or an addict, there is also an increasing awareness regarding the positive effects of recovery and a greater understanding of addiction as a disease. All of this new awareness makes sober living a peaceful possibility.
All human beings are strongly influenced by the people they spend their time with, and as recovering addicts living sober we are essentially, reforming, reshaping, and rehabilitating the person we were, into someone altogether foreign. We transform into a person who is living a healthier, addiction-free, much fuller and happier sober life.
In order for this to happen it’s likely we’ll have new and better friends who are respectful and understanding of our continuing recovery, because hanging out with old party pals, can cause a relapse in substance abuse.
Sober living doesn’t mean we can’t have fun or interests in our lives. It simply means we can have all the fun and interests we want but without the impediments and life altering effects of drugs and alcohol.
This is an excellent time for us all to become even more intentional about the types of people with whom we choose to spend our precious time. As we seek to establish healthy patterns in our life — leaving behind the destruction of the past — it’s imperative that we surround ourselves with people who are supportive and understanding of our needs as someone in recovery.
Sober Living: Friends
Being sober and living sober doesn’t equal a friendless existence—quite the contrary. Besides, there are definitely some former friends who are better left alone. Who says that “womb to tomb” is the only real and meaningful friendship? Reality check: people and circumstances change and as a result so do relationships—that’s a natural part of life.
Sober living means you may have to give up some things beyond booze and drugs, such as old friendships with those whom you used to hang out and party with before you became sober. Giving up friends you’ve known for a long time can be painful, that’s understandable.
Recovery and sober living is really about helping you find out who you are and knowing that your primary relationship needs to be with your “Higher Power.” The best way to begin building lasting friendships in recovery is to have a firm foundation and relationship with your self. Don’t worry: you’ll make other friends!
Wondering if you have the right kind of friends in recovery? You can start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Does this friend allow me to make sobriety and recovery the most important thing in my life, without exception?
- Does he/she threaten my #1 purpose?
- How do I want my life to look—is this person leading me closer to that or further away?
- Do I have a support group who will be able to share knowledge and information?
- Do I have emotional support?
- Is this person influencing negative thinking – in Alcoholics Anonymous they have a saying “poor me, poor me, pour me a drink.”
Sober Living: Amends Family & Friends
If you participate in a 12-step program, part of your recovery will involve making amends to the friends (among others) whom you’ve wronged. Remember that making amends should be done only if doing so will not cause harm to others—not thinking only of your own needs in this process but also considering how your reappearance in your friend or family member’s life will affect him or her.
Repairing or “making amends” in every relationship, with family or friends, is different for everyone, but everyone in recovery seems to have a number of fences to mend. For example: Did you steal or lie, were you simply unreliable, disappointing time and again, did you cause the person embarrassment or shame, did you physically and/or emotionally harm them? These are all things to consider as we proceed with a life in sobriety.
Most importantly—take it easy and give it time. Since it probably took you years and even decades to forge your best friendships while active in your addictions, it will take a little bit of time to create new ones that support your life of sobriety!
Sober Living: Being of service
The greatest way to approach anybody in recovery is by wanting to be of service to them, rather than looking specifically for new friends or what they can do for you. Putting the welfare of others ahead of your own needs feels so good—and may help give you perspective on your own troubles! By doing for others—whether its making coffee for a 12 step meeting, serving food at a homeless shelter or sharing your experience strength and hope with another person in recovery—you’ll work alongside others, making it easy to make new acquaintances and future friendships.
Alcohol and drug addiction, in many respects, is a much larger affliction than many of us choose to admit. If you have a friend or family member—or if you yourself believe you are suffering with addiction—there are places you can turn.
I helped create Widespread Recovery to support sober living as the first step towards personal recovery. We are not in the business of arresting addictions and we do not provide treatment: But we do provide an esteeming environment of change supported by the recovery behaviors that have helped each one of us maintain sobriety.
We’re here to help you.
Last modified: May 31, 2017