Now that you’ve achieved the sobriety you’ve worked so hard to obtain, your focus should be on maintaining sobriety and seeing that your recovery is a lifelong one. But as anyone who knows will tell you, making sure that you stay strong in your recovery can be a daily challenge that involves paying careful attention to details of your daily life. One of the most important factors of your day-to-day life is your social circle.
You will likely find that your social life needs a bit of a makeover now that you’re sober. You’ll no doubt discover that some friends from your past aren’t as interested in socializing with you anymore now that you don’t drink or use drugs. Distancing yourself from these friends might be a difficult transition, but it’s a necessary one. You may, however, have friends who still drink or use drugs but who are interested in maintaining a relationship with you that no longer involves drinking or using together. Whether or not these types of relationships can persevere through your recovery depends on the individual.
Some friends say that they accept that you are clean and are supportive of it, but their actions tell another story – one that questions your sobriety and tempts you into relapse. For these types of friends, distance will become necessary if you are to maintain your sobriety.
Other friends who still drink or use themselves may be able to make good on their word of support and become friends who encourage you to stay clean and meet up with you for a coffee or a hike or something else that doesn’t involve drinking or using. If you can transition your important friendships from the past into this type of relationship, that’s great. The stronger your support system is, the better. However, you might find that you now want other sober friends. But not all sober people are created equally.
Look for the following attributes in order to identify a sober friend who might be a good match for you.
Friendships that don’t share many commonalities beyond drinking and using aren’t deep enough to stand the test of time. By the same token, friendships that don’t share many commonalities beyond sobriety also aren’t deep enough to stand the test of time. Make sure that you look for sober friends whose values align with yours, whose personalities jive with yours and whose differences complement yours. It’s always good to have an extended network of sober people around, but true friendships require more like-mindedness than sobriety alone.
There are all types of sober people out there and, although it is sad to say, a significant percentage of those who are currently clean will eventually relapse. Although you can’t see the future and know without question if a sober person you meet will relapse, there are red flags that can alert you to a lack of commitment toward sobriety. Be on guard if your potential new sober friend still hangs out with people he or she used to drink or use with or talks about his or her sobriety as a temporary phase. It’s one thing to support a sober friend who is committed to sobriety but suffers from an unfortunate relapse. It’s quite another to befriend a person who lacks the baseline commitment required to maintain sobriety and might pull you into relapse, as well.
Being able to talk openly – when you’re ready – about your struggle with addiction to your new sober friends will deepen and strengthen your friendship. Furthermore, understanding one another’s personal background with the struggle helps each person to contextualize your sobriety. If you have befriended a sober person who has shut down all communication about his or her addiction, you might find it difficult to connect at the core of your shared issue.