While you’re in the recovery process from drugs or alcohol, you may discover that parts of your previous lifestyle don’t suit you anymore. One of the harder realizations that many people have is that the friends they once surrounded themselves with are no longer healthy influences to have in their lives.
Yet, it’s not so easy just to cut out old friends, because it’s still so critically important to have a strong support system around you to help you through your recovery. However, the process of seeking out new, healthier friendships can be tremendously healing and meaningful to you, and it is well worth pursuing. Here are a few ways you can try to find new friends as you walk through your recovery journey.
Meet Friends at Meetings
There is nothing that bonds people as well as going through a hard time together and being able to understand one another’s struggles on a real level. That’s why one of the best places to find new friends during recovery is in the recovery groups you are already participating in. Whether it’s NA, AA, group therapy or elsewhere, the people who you are already seeing, bonding with, opening up to, and communing with regularly are a great choice for possible new friends.
Think about whether there is anybody in particular in your recovery group(s) who you feel a connection to. Maybe you’re a similar age, are from the same place, or have had like experiences in your past. Whatever it may be, you can use this common ground to form a basis for a new friendship. Since you’re already spending time together, it should be natural to progress into friendship. Just try asking this person to grab a coffee or go on a walk with you before or after a meeting. They’re almost certain to appreciate this opportunity for a new, healthy connection as much as you do.
Find Friends Through a New Hobby
A great side effect of going into recovery is that you tend to get back a lot of free time that you would once have spent on unhealthy habits. In order to make the most of this newfound free time, consider committing some of your newfound time to a hobby. Whether it’s something current that’s caught your eye, something you’ve always been curious about, or a hobby from your childhood that you want to get back into, hobbies are great because, in addition to giving you something productive to do with your time, they’re also a wonderful way to meet new people.
Try choosing hobbies that involve other people, like joining a recreational sports league, a knitting circle, a book club, or taking a class. That way, you’ll have an easy way to meet other people who already share an interest with you. Mutual hobbies can easily lead to friendship as they give you something to talk about and do with a new friend. So try out a hobby and strike up a conversation with somebody there who seems interesting.
Make Social Media Social
Although it’s called “social,” social media can actually be quite isolating if you don’t make an effort to use it in a way that serves you. It can be all too easy to while away long hours scrolling through feeds of images and videos of strangers doing things you can’t imagine yourself ever doing. But if you choose to do so, you can also use social media as a tool to meet new friends and make connections.
Start by looking for online groups that are local to your area. That way, you can get in contact with new people you wouldn’t otherwise meet in the course day-to-day life but still save the possibility of easily meeting one day in person if you find yourselves connecting and wanting to get together. Often, groups like this will have regular meet-ups in person specifically for the purpose of allowing their members to make an actual connection. In fact, there are some social media, like meetup.com, that exist specifically for this very purpose. For more tips on how to use social media wisely while in recovery, click here.
Don’t Be Shy
Unfortunately, making friends as an adult can be challenging. We just don’t have as many opportunities to run into likeminded people in our age group as kids and students do. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. All it takes is making an effort and committing to actually putting yourself out there. So why not give it a shot? After all, there’s almost nothing to lose and so very much to gain, including the possibility of building a new, healthy support system of people who care about and help your recovery and well-being.