As a 20-year-old college student, my decision to get sober was terrifying for a number of reasons. But at the top of that list was one major fear: What was going to happen to my friendships?
I won’t sugarcoat it – if you decide to stop drinking, it will likely affect some of the relationships in your life. You’ll realize there were certain people you thought you were friends with, but they were actually just a drinking buddies. It’s never fun to move on from people, but in sobriety it’s sometimes necessary.
But don’t fret. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to connect with people like you, people who have also decided that life in recovery is the way to go. Here’s just a few of the ways I’ve connected with such people in the past four and a half years of sobriety.
1. Join online support groups.
There are a lot of them out there, even on social media platforms like Facebook. Some groups you can join freely, and others you need to be approved which can take a little time. But these groups provide such good resources and a sense of belonging, which you often need in the beginning stages of sobriety. These groups can lead you to connect with other sober people, who you may have never crossed paths with otherwise. Over time, you’ll likely find yourself forming friendships with these people. There are a number of sober women I met online who I have become good friends with and met in real life. They understand the struggles of recovery and we walk through it together.
I know this one is hard for some people, so it’s not a must. But when you open up to the people in your life, you’ll be surprised at how many people come forward and say, “Me, too.” Alcoholism isn’t as uncommon as you’d think. Many people have struggled with it, and chances are there are people already in your life who have as well. If you are open about your journey, it gives them the chance to reach out and allows you to form a stronger friendship.
3. Attend 12-step meetings.
Yes, this can be one of the scariest parts of early recovery for some people. And the truth is that 12-step meetings are not a fit for everyone. But there’s no harm in giving it a chance. If it is a good fit, you’ll likely meet many people on the same recovery path as you. You may find that recovery is all you have in common, or that you have recovery plus many other things in common. Either way, having recovery in common is a good foundation to build a friendship upon.
4. Utilize hashtags on Instagram.
This sounds like a weird way to meet friends, but I’ve actually connected with many sober peers this week. When you search #sobriety or #recovery on Instagram, many posts and accounts come up. Follow them. Interact with them. You just may build an online support system, which could evolve into a friendship. Social media is a great tool for not only sharing your own story, but being able to hear and partake in other people’s stories.
There are quite a few out there. These groups provide you with the necessary tools for recovery while also connecting you with sober peers as a support system. Many times the people in these courses grow close due to the sensitive nature of the topics discussed. Often, there are Facebook groups or online meetings created for course members as well, to stay in contact during the course and even after it’s ended.
Of course, there are other ways to connect with sober peers, too. These are just a few that have been the most effective in my own journey, especially when it comes to connecting with other young, sober people. Everyone’s journey is different, but it’s likely that connecting with others who have been where you are will make the journey a little brighter.
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Beth Leipholtz is the founder of Life to be Continued, a blog about the realities of getting sober young. She writes about her own experience falling into addiction and how she found her way back out. Beth also works as a newspaper reporter and graphic designer in Minnesota. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @EL9292