Entering into recovery for the first time can be scary, nerve-wracking, anxiety provoking and can sometimes feel lonely. We hear all the suggestions about ‘building a network’, ‘get to know people’, ‘let people get to know you’, as well as the ones about changing ‘people, places and things.’ This often feels overwhelming; especially when we don’t even know where to start in meeting new, sober friends. There is, however, some solutions and suggestions that you can try, whether you’re a social person or more of a private, introverted person.
Attending Recovery Meetings
Recovery meetings, whether they’re 12-step based, SMART Recovery or Dharma Recovery, are full of people that are on the same path as you. Those people too have been new, afraid, and unsure about how to do it all. Because they share this similar experience, it’s easy to find people that are willing to help you feel more comfortable and welcomed. When you attend a meeting, sometimes you’ll find people that will approach you on their own, when others you may have to ask for help or put yourself out there. Either way, there are people that want to get to know you. Often times, people will go out after a meeting to eat or get coffee and may invite you come, or if not you invite yourself (not easy if you fear rejection), but they would be more than happy to have you come along.
Getting a sponsor and a home group
These are two things that are built-in suggestions in any 12-step recovery program, and also happen to be good ways of meeting people and making friends. By getting a sponsor and letting them get to know you and you get to know them, you also get to know their network and group of friends. Your sponsor might invite you to other meetings or get-togethers with their friends, thus giving you the opportunity to get to know some new people. When you get a home group that you show up to on a regular basis, the people in the meeting get to know you and vice versa. Home group members will sometimes go out together before or after the meeting, or have gatherings together and invite you along as a fellow group member. At the very least, they are people that you see every time you go to your home group giving you a regular opportunity to build relationships with them.
Many recovery support groups hold functions such as dances, event nights, speaker jams, conventions, fundraisers, etc. These events are great opportunities to meet new people and also experience fun in recovery. They’re often free or low-cost events, making it easy for anyone to attend. They’re announced at local recovery groups so attendance at meetings will give you information about what’s going on in your local recovery community.
No matter your path to recovery, there are thousands of people that share similar experiences as you and have the same goals of living a life of sobriety. No one has to, or should, do recovery alone. This is why any recovery group focuses on the ‘group’ as a support system, because it is not meant to do alone. If you struggle with meeting new people or letting people get to know you, you’re not alone in that either. Start small if you have to, meet just one or two people to start and begin building those relationships. To start to make friends in recovery, all you need is 1 friend. From there, we build our networks through the process of participation in recovery. If attending meetings is really difficult for you, or not possible at all, there are a number of online recovery support groups that allow you to interact with others across the globe, and even just in your local area.