Friends stick with you through thick and thin, and are there when it matters the most – but when you go sober, you might quickly find that a lot of the people you once called ‘friends’ aren’t much for good company, let alone love and support. The bad news is that some friendships are built on that party life, and while that is well and good, there is a time when that sort of friendship simply is not viable anymore and you find yourself looking for bonds that are much more cerebral.
The good news is that it’s easier to meet people and make friends than it’s ever been, and communication today is so sophisticated and instant that it’s not only possible to make friends with someone you’ll never meet in person, it’s actually easy. Facetime, Google Duo, Skype, Snapchat, and a variety of other apps and tools have made face-to-face contact faster and more qualitative than ever before, even across hundreds or thousands of miles. Forget pen pals and SMS buddies, nowadays there are no limits as to where you might find conversational partners you can tit-for-tat with in real time.
And even if you’re looking for good friends to actually meet up with, the Internet is often an invaluable tool. But that doesn’t mean it’s your only way of befriending strangers. Before we get into all the ways you can find good sober friends nowadays, however, it might be important to mention why you should bother to begin with.
Why Friendship in Sobriety Matters
We need support. Whether it’s a village, a tribe, a family, or a community, there are always other people in our lives who we depend on, and who depend on us. Yet the need for a more personal, almost intimate level of support becomes obvious when we begin struggling with battles that may revolve around ‘life or death’.
The choice to go sober isn’t always well-received by those we once called friends, and the loss of that friendship can be a particularly hefty blow, especially early on in recovery. Furthermore, left without friends to help us through our toughest moments, the possibility of relapse becomes much more likely.
While dating is seen as a bad idea early on in sobriety, seeking out friendship is good. Partnership, intimacy, and companionship are much harder criteria to hit, and long-term compatibility and commitment depends largely on the results of an early trial period, where both individuals put a lot of themselves on the line. Rejection in romantic relationships is much more devastating than simply not hitting it off with a potential friend. But how does one start to look for a friend in sobriety?
Find Friends, Not Just Sober Acquaintances
Sobriety should not be the defining characteristic of a friendship. While it’s obviously important to find and make friends who support your recovery and don’t sabotage it by openly drinking or using around you (or, even better, are as committed to sobriety as you are), it’s also important to note that friendships are built on interests and experiences that go beyond a common life goal.
Having Facebook friends who go to sober meetings and struggle with sobriety in similar ways to you can be great and talking to them can provide interesting insight into how other people deal with some of the challenges you have faced. However, you are more likely to find friends by focusing on who they are and what they like to do, rather than how their life revolves around treating an addiction.
Finding New Friends in Recovery
Why not start right now? It’s a good idea to be friendly with the people you’re in recovery with, at the very least because it provides you with an opportunity to soak up a lot of knowledge and experience from people who might have been at this sober game longer than you have. Addiction strikes people from all kinds of backgrounds, and each journey is unique.
Sometimes, you might even find someone you mesh with particularly well, and you will both want to keep in touch long after the program has ended. These supportive bonds are important in post-program recovery, because they help remind you that you’re not alone in this, despite how it might feel sometimes.
Finding Friends Online
The internet can be a scary place, but if you keep your wits about you, it can also be an amazing place for discovering new people. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Meetup are just a couple of places that support fostering like-minded communities and meeting others around you with many of the same interests. There are also countless websites and online forums for people to exchange stories and organize local get-togethers for recovery.
There’s no guarantee you’re going to make friends, but the more time you spend meeting new people, the more likely you are to meet someone special.
Finding Friends Through Hobbies
Do you hit the gym? Do you like to run? Do you foster animals? Are you a plant person? Recovery provides many with another chance to discover what it is about living life sober that they enjoy the most, with many finding out that they have interests in topics and hobbies they would have never thought to try out in the past.
Broadening your horizons through creative and physical activities also provides you with a great opportunity to meet new people who are on that same path, but with wildly different backgrounds. Out of all the ways to make new friends, the easiest and most consistent is to pick something you’re truly passionate about and seek out others who share your passion. You might have more in common than you would think!
Perhaps the most important tip is to be open-minded, and curious. Don’t jump to conclusions or fall for prejudices, and instead be open to new ideas and personalities. Don’t be afraid to make friends with people who might challenge your beliefs, or who live a life so very different from yours. Seek common ground, but don’t look for clones. Friendships are a great opportunity to learn more about different racial and cultural backgrounds and have a greater understanding of the world and how alike we can be despite fundamental differences in upbringing.