If you've been in recovery for any amount of time, you've probably heard of a "sober support network". Essentially, a sober support network is a group of people you can rely on to support you in your recovery. Your network could include family, friends from a recovery support group or fellow treatment alumni.
There are many benefits to a strong sober support network, such as reduced risk of relapse, increased fulfillment in recovery, and opportunities to grow and enrich your life. But if you're newly sober or haven't gotten plugged into a network of sober peers, you may not know where to start. To add, meeting people isn't easy and it can be even more difficult to talk to others about what seems like the most vulnerable part of your life. It's stressful and confusing, but it's also important. Here are 4 tips to help you get your sober network started.
1. Embrace the call list.
While you might not know what to do with it at first, embrace the call list. Add your name to it and take a copy. Try to make a connection with one person at the meeting by sending a text or making a brief phone call. You need to participate in order to form a sober support network. This is a great place to start.
2. Start small.
In early recovery, it's not always possible to go from having no support to a consistent group of friends—especially overnight. Like anything, forming a sober support network takes time. So when you're just starting out, start small. Set small, attainable goals and form a few close friendships early. If you're invited to a gathering of people in recovery after a meeting, accept the offer and try to get to know a few people at a time. It will be less overwhelming and you'll be able to focus on forming quality friendships that can support your recovery in the long-run.
3. Consider your practical support.
Just because you haven't met a formal group of sober friends doesn't mean you don't have support. Think about your current support—your parents, grandparents, probation officer, counselor, therapist, doctor or social worker. While this kind of support is different from a friend group, they're still working with your best interest at heart. If you don't know where to turn, reach out to them for help, ideas or a listening ear.
4. Support other people.
Over time as your recovery gets more mature, you can stay grounded by supporting and mentoring other people in recovery. Reach out to people you meet in meetings, coordinate a gathering of sober friends, or consider sponsoring another person in recovery. By supporting other people, you'll be more likely to utilize the support network yourself—and you'll make it stronger for others too.
5. Join a forum community.
For those who are unable to leave home for a face-to-face meeting, during late nights when no one is available to talk on the phone, or if you simply have a shy personality, joining an online forum community can help. SoberRecovery has a large and very active forum community of more than 170,000 members who discuss a breadth of addiction-related topics. And whether or not anyone is online at the same time to quickly respond, reading through similar conversations can also get you through a difficult moment.
If you're feeling the urge to drink or use—call on your support network. Taking the first step can be the hardest, but once you reach out, you'll be amazed at the tension it will lift, the benefits it can bring and the fulfillment you'll find in recovery. And when you're a part of a strong, supportive recovery community, you'll be able to develop personal recovery that lasts.