One of the greatest challenges to the newly sober person is meeting new people and making new friends. Becoming sober will inevitably cost you a few friends as you realise that all the people you once hung out with are still abusing drugs and alcohol and are therefore no longer appropriate friends, conducive to your addiction recovery. Sober living can feel lonely at first, however overcoming feelings of loneliness is essential for preventing relapse as loneliness is one of the most common relapse triggers.
Of course, forming a whole new group of sober friends is easier said than done. That is why we have compiled these sober living tips to help you meet new friends who share your values and know how to have sober fun
Sober Living: Where to Meet Sober Friends
When we are drinking, it is easy to fall into the false assumption that everyone drinks. And while the drinking culture is largely embedded in society, the fact is that only 51% of adults in the US drink alcohol regularly (at least once a month). Another 13% drink infrequently, consuming less than 11 drinks in a year. This means there are many people out there who do not make alcohol and drugs a regular part of their life, or even completely abstain.
But where do you meet like-minded people when you are in recovery from drug addiction? Of course, your recovery meetings are a good place to start, and making friends and gaining mentorship through a recovery group is great. Many people make life-long friendships within their recovery groups, and many groups organise fun sober activities outside the time spent together as a support group.
However, recovery groups are not the only place to meet other sober people. Especially if you are ready to start dating in recovery, your support group may not be the best place to look. Entering a romantic relationship is a big step when you are in recovery (which is why it is not recommended for at least one year). Breakups can put people at risk of relapse, and if a breakup also makes a place that was once a solid part of your recovery uncomfortable, this risk gets even greater.
That being said, here are some other places you might meet sober friends or even flirt with potential sober dates.
1. Sober meetups.
There are sober meetups popping up all over the world and they may be one of the best places to meet other sober people outside of recovery groups. Meetups are events aimed at bringing like-minded people together to make new friends and do fun things. Sober meetups in your area could include getting together to participate in sports, outdoor activities, concerts, travel, or sharing a BBQ where you know everyone shares at least one thing in common — sober living.
2. The gym.
Of course not everyone you meet at the gym will be living sober, but someone who heads to the gym after a long day at work instead of a bar is more likely to have habits aligned with sober living. Gyms also offer classes which have the added benefit of consistently meeting the same people — which can be helpful in creating long-lasting friendships
3. The library or book-store.
Try hitting up a library or book-store on a Saturday night. If you enjoy reading this can be a great place to meet like-minded people. Even if you are not a huge reading fan, browsing magazines or having a late night dessert in the book-store café could lead to conversations with other people who would rather not spend their Saturday night getting wasted.
Not only is volunteering great for the community and great for your well-being, it can also be a great place to meet new people. Local animal shelters are often in need of dedicated volunteers, or check your local park for an organised community clean-up day. Whether you are walking dogs or serving those in need a hot meal, people who are willing to give their time for a good cause may share other values with you — like sober living, or at least a life not fully immersed in alcohol.
5. Go online.
Whether you frequent online recovery communities to chat online, or browse sober online dating sites, there are tons of online resources and support forums for people in recovery. If you plan to meet people from the internet in person, however, just be sure to exercise caution. And if you think you are ready to start dating, be sure to follow our guidelines for dating in recovery.
Remember that there are a lot of people out there who choose not to drink or use drugs, and there are many places to meet people besides at a bar or club. Put yourself in situations where you are more likely to start conversations with new people — such as by taking a class or volunteering — and your chances of finding like-minded friends will increase.
When meeting people outside of your recovery group it is always wise to be prepared to turn down offers to get a drink. It is up to you if you want to disclose your recovery to new acquaintances, but you do not owe anyone an explanation as to why you do not drink, and most people who would make positive friends will respect your choice of sober living no matter what.
Sober Living: Travelling without Drugs and Alcohol
Another great way to meet people or to share time with sober friends is to travel. Travelling sober for the first time can be scary, especially if drunken vacations were a common part of your past. Travelling could bring up cravings to use drugs or alcohol again which is why it is best to travel with a sober group and make a plan to use your supports and attend meetings while travelling.
There are now many travel agencies and websites dedicated to helping you plan a sober vacation. Some will arrange everything for you from airfare to hotel bookings and some even rent out entire resorts for sober travellers to experience a vacation together without the temptation of alcohol and with several recovery meetings to choose from each day.
Sober living does not have to be boring, and overcoming loneliness by meeting new people is imperative. There is a lot of fun to be had (and remembered) with other people who are also in recovery from alcoholism or drug dependence, or who simply find that being sober is cool.
(These articles are the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”, they are its original authors.)