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How To Build A New Social Life In Recovery

A social life is key to successful addiction recovery, but building a sober social network can be tough. Here's how to make friends and remain connected as you navigate sobriety.

Sobriety remains one of the best things you can do for your health, especially if you've struggled with addiction. But in recovery, finding ways to have fun while also avoiding your triggers requires using the tools you've learned in treatment every single day. The following strategies can help you build a new social life that supports your recovery and nurtures your emotional needs.

Be mindful of your addiction triggers.

Recovery doesn't have to mean giving up your social life. In fact, without drugs or alcohol in the picture, it may be easier to enjoy family events, attend parties, and find meaning in substantive conversation. That doesn't mean that social events will always be easy. You may encounter some familiar addiction triggers in these spaces.

Some strategies to avoid them include:

  • Early in recovery, consider staying away from events where you know drugs or alcohol will be present.
  • Avoid people who are actively addicted, especially if you used with them in the past and they do not respect your sobriety.
  • Be mindful of the stressors that most frequently trigger your desire to use.
  • Have a plan for managing temptation. You might call a sponsor, or even go for a run.

Get support from loved ones.

"It is also important for family members of loved ones affected by addiction to receive the support they need," says Farley Barge, co-founder and executive director of Navigate Recovery. People in recovery must be mindful of the ways their addiction has affected others. Your loved ones are on this journey with you.

Talk to your loved ones about what you need. Encourage them to go to a therapy session or two, or to attend a 12-step meeting with you. Your friends and family may have suffered immensely because of your addiction, and very likely want to help. Without the right information, they won't know how.

Replace your addictive behavior with a healthy hobby.

Consider taking up a new hobby to fill the void of your previously unhealthy behavior. Exercise. Take a class. Pick up that old instrument you haven't touched in years. Start your own support group. Find something new and exciting to be passionate about.

Find friends who are also in recovery.

"Relationships help [recovering addicts] manage and maintain long term success," Barge explains.

People who are committed to their own recovery can help you get and remain sober. You can draw on their wisdom and lived experience when you need a powerful reminder that there is life on the other side of addiction. People in recovery are also less likely to expose you to temptation. Consider joining a 12-step program, participating in a local sobriety meetup, or attending activities at a recovery center like Barge's organization.