Depending on your unique situation, you may or may not have had a lot of sober friends or family members to rely on once you decided to leave substances behind. Even so, you probably realize that a support system is critical for a person in recovery. If the support can’t come from family and friends, you will want to build new relationships with those who can help you maintain your commitment to sobriety.
Why a Sober Support System Is Essential for Strong Recovery
There is a saying in the recovery community: if you hang around the barbershop long enough, you’re bound to get a haircut. In other words, it is human nature to do what the people around you are doing. In order to stay on the sober path, you will want to seek out others who are on that journey, too. Sober friends can offer “good” peer pressure; they can be a cheer squad and a sounding board, among other things, according to Psych Central.
Where to Find Sober Friends
Consider all of the various places where you could meet someone who is also choosing to stay away from substances. Some examples might include:
- Recovery Community – The recovery community is so much bigger than just AA and NA. There are dozens of different ways to be part of the recovery community. The people you meet at in-person or online recovery meetings and events, in treatment, or through your sponsor are probably trying to live sober lives.
- Pro – Someone in recovery is likely to understand where you are coming from and be willing to help hold you accountable.
- Con – If their recovery journey goes off course and you are not solid in your journey, one of you falling off the wagon could drag you both down.
- Faith Community – Many individuals abstain from drugs or alcohol because of their faith. Being sober in this environment would not make you stand out from others in the group.
- Pro – You are more likely to find people who’ve never used substances in this setting, and this means they aren’t likely to relapse.
- Con – They may not fully comprehend the struggles you face in staying on track.
One way to find the best of both the faith community and the recovery community could be to find a recovery meeting that is rooted in your faith tradition, if your denomination offers such a thing. A group like Celebrate Recovery can put you in contact with people who share your spirituality and also understand the battles you are fighting each day to stay sober.
- Therapy Groups – Many groups are available for those in recovery who also need to address trauma and/or mental illness in order to become their best selves and get their recovery to a good place.
- Pro – If you are in both mental health and substance use recovery, this could be a way to make friends who share your struggles.
- Con – As when connecting anyone in recovery meetings, a relapse for either of you could bring down the other if you aren’t really working your recovery plan.
- Fitness Community – Working out can be both a coping skill in recovery and also a fun hobby. The broad range of those in the fitness community probably share an interest in health. Some of them may abstain from drugs and alcohol for health reasons even if they’ve never struggled with addiction.
- Pro – People who’ve used previously and those who have never used can support each other in attaining fitness goals. This allows you to build friendships on something entirely unrelated to addiction and can be a refreshing change of conversation sometimes.
- Con – As with the faith community, it is possible that not everyone you meet in the fitness community will be able to relate to your recovery journey. Some may drink excessively, take performance enhancing drugs–or be addicted to exercise itself.
- Volunteering/Work – Most adults spend most of their time at their job. Many adults also spend time volunteering. You can certainly make sober friends at work or at your place of volunteering–and some of these friends may even become close enough to be part of your support network.
- Pro – If you already work or volunteer, it’s natural that you would make friends in that setting. People you meet through work and volunteering also get to see a side of you that has nothing to do with substances, which can be very refreshing. You may discover that you have other interests in common as well.
- Con – The work and volunteering environments will certainly include those who don’t understand addiction or recovery. These environments can also include drinking and drug use, which may undermine your sobriety. Use your good judgment to determine which people or groups may be the most understanding of your situation.
At Safe Harbor Recovery Center, we encourage our guests to develop a wide array of sober friends so that they always have someone to talk to who will encourage them and cheer them on.