Updated on 2/1/2023

Recovery is about rebuilding your life after a substance use disorder in a manner that supports your ongoing sobriety. Finding a healthy support group is essential to this process. Will the friends you currently have support your recovery efforts? Are these friends engaging in behaviors that may trigger you as you attempt to stay sober? Are these people supporting your newfound sobriety or belittling your attempts at lasting recovery? Answering such questions will help you understand what social changes you may need to make in order to continue positively in your recovery journey. Here are four tips when it comes to finding a new circle of friends.

#1 Attend Support Group Meetings in Recovery from a Substance Use Disorder

It is hard in early recovery to find friends and family that genuinely know what you are going through as you recover from a substance use disorder. It can become frustrating trying to navigate recovery when you feel misunderstood, even if your friends and family mean well. Among some of the best places to begin looking for supportive friends is at 12-step meetings (such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous) or other various support meetings. Not only will you meet other individuals that share similar experiences, but you will find they are also committed to their recovery from substance use disorder and better able to understand what you are going through.

Support group meetings can help you transition into a world where you need to trust yourself and other people. It enables you to become a better listener and express your fears and concerns to people who won’t judge you. You can also befriend a sponsor or mentor to help keep you accountable. You can even give back and become a sponsor or mentor for someone else. Statistics are on your side, as participating in support groups increases your chances of remaining substance-free. Finding a new circle of friends and building a healthy support system in these meetings helps you and helps the recovery community. You can look for local group meetings in your community or join an online support group if you have concerns about travel or health. 

#2 Be Social During Exercise in Recovery from a Substance Use Disorder

Exercise can be a great tool in helping you focus on rebuilding your circle of friendships and people you can trust after a substance use disorder. Recovery can sometimes cause a lot of stress and anxiety, and these thoughts can deter you from progressing. Exercising helps relieve anxiety and stress by producing endorphins, therefore enhancing your mood. It also enables you to heal your body and mind from damage caused after years of substance use. 

There is also a social aspect to exercise. Joining a gym, fitness class or yoga studio is a great way to find others that are motivated and proactive about their health and wellbeing. These friends will likely care about living a healthy lifestyle, and you might find that their energy and enthusiasm are contagious. Whether they are maintaining sober living or not, finding a new circle of friends will likely encourage and support your sobriety. 

Exercise sessions like yoga can help with the processing of your thoughts and emotions while being in a healthy social environment with others. You can also be inventive and utilize online video chat to have workout sessions with a class or just a friend. Overcoming a challenging workout with others helps build trust and create lasting friendships. 

#3 Attend Online or In-Person Retreats and Workshops While in Recovery from a Substance Use Disorder

Much like bringing others into your exercising sessions, try to attend other pursuits within a group setting while in substance use recovery. These may include yoga and meditation, art, music and other personal development workshops and retreats. Participating in activities that interest you along with others helps to form healthy relationships and can cultivate finding a new circle of friends.

If you are shy or apprehensive or have not yet developed a way to verbalize how you feel, these workshops and retreats can offer a safe place to express yourself through your talents. It might also become a great resource to expand your network, leading to career opportunities. Working with others helps you see and share other perspectives through the medium you choose to participate in. Like exercise and other therapies, there are online options so you may work from the comfort of home. 

#4 Rebuild Your Relationship with Yourself While in Recovery from a Substance Use Disorder

It is hard to move forward in recovery when you still have reservations about trusting yourself, therefore it is essential to work on rebuilding your relationship with yourself. Understand that this takes time and practice. Setting unreasonable expectations or demands about where you and your friends should be will only hinder your progress. Allow yourself to explore new avenues. Practice mindfulness, challenge and question your negative thoughts, and never forget how far you have come. 

Appreciating and trusting yourself takes practicing gratitude and humility, so try to remind yourself, whether verbally or in a journal, just how much you have to be grateful for in your life. When you look at the good in yourself, you will be able to look for the good in others, leading to healthy relationships. 

At New Hope Ranch, we believe a strong network is essential in recovery from substance use disorder. We are always here if you wish to reestablish your goals and structure in your life. With 24/7 support, there is never a wrong time to reach out. To learn more, contact us today.

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