How to Navigate a Social Life while Living Sober

life after rehab

One of the most crucial components of a successful recovery is relationships. Positive friends, family, and supportive relationships can often be the most beneficial influences on your sobriety. The problem, however, is that it is not always easy to build relationships and re-establish a social life after drug rehab. At the very least, it can feel intimidating. Your old ways have dissipated, and you can no longer rely on alcohol or drugs to open new doors. When living sober, it is up to you to approach people, places, parties, conversations, and life as a whole. Where do you start?

Step 1: Be Confident in Your Choice

The first step to a sober social life is learning how to be confident: in your sobriety and yourself. You have made an admirable, unconventional choice to get sober. Be proud of that choice and embrace it, always. The fact is, you are a minority. Most of your old friends and many of the people you will encounter drink alcohol. Some will use drugs. But you have chosen a healthier path. You have made a commitment to a sober lifestyle. Stay true to your decision. Set the stage for others who, at this time, may be too scared to do the same.

Step 2: Do Not Take Negative Reactions to Heart

There will always be people who say inappropriate or unpleasant remarks surrounding drug abuse and addiction. There will be people who pass judgment, make assumptions, or voice their opinions to you on the subject. Some will act shocked when you deny a drink or hit that is offered. Do not take these reactions personally. The truth is, these types of responses have nothing to do with you or your addiction journey. Negative reactions, rather, are indicative of how others see the world—and how they try to project their views on you. Turn these moments into positive ones. Use them to deepen your balance, composure, and confidence.

Step 3: Avoid Unsupportive Friendships

It is important to know that you will not lose your real friends after rehab. If anything, recovery from addiction will shed light on who your true friends are. These are the people who will not only support your decision but also help you continue to make healthy decisions in the long-term. They will embrace the renewed you, even if it does take some time.

Of course, there will some relationships lost in recovery. You may have had some very close friends in your drug-using days, ones who encouraged, participated, or even supplied your substance of choice. These friendships, ones that were established on a mutual love for partying, drugs, and getting drunk, will likely fade in time if no other foundation exists. 

As you look to your old social circle, try to identify relationships that could put your sobriety in jeopardy. Do your friends support your sober living program? Are they still heavy users themselves? Can you count on them? Or would you consider them relapse triggers? Do they make you want to use drugs? Do they try to manipulate you or make you feel bad about your recovery? Asking yourself these questions will help you discover your supportive (and unsupportive) friendships.

Step 4: Make New Friends

Loneliness is another distinctive relapse trigger. As you establish your life after recovery, remember always to surround yourself with positive people. Stay away from those that put you down, and do not be afraid to find new friends.

Forging new friendships will be a huge part of the new life you have built. It will start the minute you enter drug treatment. You will find people who have walked a similar path, experienced similar situations, and have similar goals that align with your own. You will meet these peers in your 12-step meetings, in group therapy sessions, and through sober activities.

A great way to build your sober network is to try new activities and explore new hobbies that are of interest to you. Get a gym membership, take a yoga class, enroll in school, join a sports league, pick up music lessons – do something that is healthy, that makes you happy, and that will introduce you to others who share the same interests. Oftentimes, these sober activities can serve as the best building blocks for proactive, authentic, long-term relationships.

There is no doubt that it can be difficult to reintegrate or rebuild your social life after rehab. It can be hard for those new to recovery to go to a party or out to dinner with friends without being reminded of old habits. Remember that recovery is a process and that there are people to help you along the way. You are loved, you are cherished, and you can do this.

For further information on how to establish a sober social life after recovery, visit our blog Sober Living Tips or call us at 877-581-1793 to learn more.