If you are new to the world of addiction recovery, or if you are returning to treatment after a relapse, it is a good time to consider what changes you can make in your life right away that will set you up for success.  One of the most essential aspects of a sober lifestyle is creating a network of support. This network may include therapists, sponsors, support groups, and supportive friends and family. An important addition to this network is sober friends in recovery.  While it is unrealistic to expect that everyone in your life will commit themselves to sobriety, it is a good idea to find a couple quality friends that are also on the recovery journey, but perhaps at a more secure place than you are currently. The benefits of making sober friends are endless, but here are a few ways they can help make your recovery a success.

They’ve Been There, Done That

Having friends who are also in recovery can help make what is often a very isolating experience feel a little less lonely.  Even if you’re on your second, third, or twentieth shot at sobriety, friends in recovery won’t judge you for your past because they have likely faced many of the same challenges themselves.  In fact, you can use these friends as a great resource for new ideas and perspectives on how to get through specific struggles in sobriety. Some people who struggle with addiction prefer to stay private about their recovery journey with many of people in their lives, but it can be nice to have one or two friends that you can be entirely open with.  For those who have not experienced addiction directly, it can be difficult to understand the complexities of the condition, but friends who have been through it and made it to the other side already know how you are feeling and are much less likely to perpetuate the stigma that often surrounds substance abuse.

They Make a Great “Plus One”

Having at least one close friend in recovery that you can invite with you to social functions is a great protective strategy against the many temptations you will likely face once you begin to reintegrate into a normal social life.  For people with addictions to alcohol, it can be difficult to find a balance between turning down every invite and succumbing to cravings when alcohol is present at parties and events. Bringing a friend who is secure in their sobriety with you to parties, weddings, and any place where alcohol might be present is a great way to hold yourself accountable and not deal with the awkward feeling of being the only one not drinking.  Additionally, having a sober friend at social events tends to make the occasion more enjoyable once everyone else becomes inebriated, and they can always help you decide when it might be a good time to leave!

They Can Introduce You to Sober Fun

Someone who has been sober for a significant period of time has likely adjusted their life to include new routines and hobbies that make living sober much more enjoyable.  When you are in active addiction, your life likely revolves around your substance abuse, making it difficult to explore other interests. You may also find that since you once relied on drugs or alcohol for “fun”, early sobriety can feel a bit boring.  The reality is that a sober lifestyle allows you to live much more adventurously, trying new things and staying present for every moment. A sober friend can introduce you to new hobbies and accompany you in trying anything that might interest you. Friends in recovery are more likely to enthusiastically join you in trying out an art class, beginning a yoga practice, or taking up hiking.  The possibilities are endless, and a sober friend can help you find what you love.

They Can Help You Stay on Track

Inevitably in recovery, you will face challenging moments and hardships that make you feel like giving up.  While anyone can offer you words of encouragement and support at this time, a friend in recovery can speak from a place of knowing exactly how it feels to be in your shoes.  They may have even relapsed in the past during a hard time in their life, and they can tell you from experience how relapsing will only make things harder. Friends in recovery who have successfully established a sober lifestyle can help direct you back to your sobriety work and resources when you are facing a crossroads by encouraging you to continue seeing your therapist, going to group meetings, and returning to the 12 Steps.  While it is ultimately your job to maintain your sobriety, a friend in recovery can be the push you need to keep going when times get tough. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and mental health issues, now is the time to reach out for help. At Burning Tree, you will find knowledgeable and compassionate professionals that structure treatment to fit individual needs, including the identification of co-occurring disorders. Through accountability and commitment to the 12 Steps, each client will develop the tools to create a sober lifestyle and find lasting recovery. We specialize in the treatment of chronic relapsers and believe with the right support, you can experience real and permanent healing. For more information, call us now at 866-287-2877.