Celebrate Connections during National Recovery Month
Your “new life” in recovery is all about sober living, embracing your decision to beat your addiction. As you’ve explored your demons and dedicated your future to living a fulfilling and fruitful existence, positive changes are part of the picture. This may include reevaluating friends you socialized with while you were abusing drugs or alcohol.
As much as these people have shaped your story, spending time with them could be detrimental to your ongoing sobriety, especially when you're new to recovery and relearning life as a sober individual. Making new friends may be challenging, and could take some time, but the rewards are worth the wait. As for the old friends who can wholeheartedly support your sobriety in a healthy and productive manner, by all means, keep them around, enjoy their company, and spend time strengthening your bonds and shared beliefs.
Friends have many facets, but if the people you associated with pre-sobriety were users/abusers of drugs or alcohol and are still involved in that lifestyle, spending time with them can set you back. Spending time with other sober people "empowers your sober self" as LifeRing's Empowering Your Sober Self points out. Perhaps months or years down the road you can reacquaint yourself with these people, but when you're newly sober, it could be risky to actively continue these relationships. Or if it's important to keep these people currently in your life and if you see these friends in a social setting in which they aren’t using drugs or alcohol, you’ll be safe. Try meeting up for coffee or invite them to your home. They will have to understand that you can no longer partake in your past lifestyle and respect your boundaries. This “weeding out” process will leave you with the friends who have your best interest at heart. Those who can’t appreciate what you've been through and where you’re going are not the people who will offer the support you will need as you stay on your sober journey.
That said, your willingness to guide them if and when they are ready to stop using themselves will be a gift. Keep the lines of communication open for this potential scenario. Otherwise, it’s much wiser to steer clear of them and the triggering environments they frequent. Your sobriety is your priority, even if you once considered them good friends.
Forming New Connections
Along with the old friends you deem “safe” for your sobriety, it's also a great time to make new friends who can become part of your new and improved, sober lifestyle. The opportunities to meet new people are endless, especially now in our new Zooming experiences. Staying sober isn’t easy in the beginning, and as they say, "the opposite of addiction is not sobriety...the opposite of addiction is connection". I believe it was Johann Hari (YouTube) who said that.
Of course, you can find new friends who have nothing to do with your initial recovery but could be encouraging as you stay sober and seek out new adventures. Find friends in the workplace, your religious congregation, in your apartment complex, or via social networking. Friends of friends are easy to meet, so be open to introductions.
Most importantly, be your own best friend. Once you accept your past and applaud yourself for your decision to begin a new, sober lifestyle, you will develop a new, more loving relationship with yourself; and that in itself is very attractive.
So, it's September and it's National Recovery month...let's celebrate the connections we have made and are making in our respective recovery journeys!