You’re certain the decisions of addiction treatment and sober living were the right ones. Nevertheless, it’s sometimes challenging to deal with the resulting changes, especially if they involve leaving particular people and activities behind. Where will you find sober friends? It might surprise you to know that there are more people like you who don’t need substances to have exciting, healthy, adventurous, and fulfilling lives.
When Substance Use Helps to Curb Socializing Issues
Everyone wants to be confident around others and feel like they belong. Even people with introverted personalities seek out individuals with whom they can feel comfortable. As much as we are wired to be social, social contact can cause intense anxiety for some individuals.
The National Institute of Mental Health states that social anxiety disorder is “more than just shyness.” It often involves having certain emotions for six months or more, such as:
- Feeling self-conscious in social situations
- Being afraid other people will judge or tease you
- Choosing to avoid meeting other people
- A fear of public speaking or of being the center of attention
- A fear of having someone watch while you do something
People with social anxiety often have physical reactions to the disorder, such as heart palpitations, shaking, sweating, and flushing. They usually require treatment to learn more about their condition and coping skills to handle it.
Social awkwardness is different. King University outlines the symptoms most people share:
- Having less experience with the usual social graces
- Not understanding or adhering to certain social norms or expectations
- Showing exasperation in social situations they’re not coordinating or controlling
- Having intense focus on subjects they’re interested in, and less on those of other people
This personality trait has some positives: many individuals with social awkwardness are systematic thinkers and problem solvers, and “excel in specialized areas.” When they seem to be intruding, it’s just their way of putting themselves front and center for acceptance. With proper guidance and compassion, they often find “their people” and learn to manage social situations more effectively.
In many articles regarding teens’ substance use, the focus is often centered on how to reduce social anxiety and awkwardness. Many adolescents feel uneasy or pressured in social situations, and so substance use that eliminates inhibitions and helps them connect to friends and acquaintances is appealing.
The same is true of adults. The global non-profit newsroom The Conversation shared research that outlined benefits of “party drugs” and other substances for many of the same reasons: to link people together in situations that provide “a source of friendship, support, and happiness.”
For someone with a risk of addiction, especially if they have a background of generational factors or trauma, it’s simply not an option to use a pill or a drink to deal with social situations. So choosing to be sober and socialize requires understanding why you’re uncomfortable; assessing whether you need therapy for social anxiety; and finding other individuals with your interests.
Finding Sober Friends
There are many ways to explore activities and people that don’t involve drugs or alcohol. Once you’re comfortable within your social profile and willing to experiment, you might be surprised at the options.
Your AA or NA meeting
You might not want to get to know everyone in your recovery group beyond the regular 12-Step meeting. But if one or two people seem to share your perspectives and sense of humor, take a chance and invite them for coffee or to go to a movie. Many people in support groups want better friendships, too.
A spiritual center
You don’t have to follow a particular denomination to be spiritual, so while some people may enjoy going to a small study-specific fellowship at church, others are more inclined to join a meditation group with a post-session potluck. The point is to align with individuals who are also seeking peace and joy in their lives and won’t pressure you.
Maybe you met another parent while in rehab, and you’re both committed to creating sober family fun. If the kids (and adults!) get along, there’s literally no end to the activities you can do together, providing the opportunity to have richer conversations and make new memories.
A sober-curious group
There’s an increasing focus on mindful and healthful living, and while the sober curious movement might seem a bit odd to consider, it presents a different way of evaluating alcohol-free socializing and presents a possibility for meeting new sober friends. People usually gather in spaces such as dry bars, restaurants, lectures, and gallery openings.
A sports or hobbies club
Whether you’d like to rock climb, do woodworking, bike, craft, run, participate in a book club, race ATVs, salsa dance, practice yoga, fly model planes, or whatever, you’ll enjoy the company of other people focused on wellness and productivity. A good place to start is on Meetup.com, where you can search by location and find opportunities such as the Hobbies Groups in Atlanta.
A civic or volunteer organization
Too often, we forget the power we have to give back and reinforce our communities. Through volunteering, we find people with like minds and attitudes focused on positive change. Offering a helping hand might also be reciprocal, as you can learn new skills and make career connections.
Find Community at Twin Lakes
We want you to feel fully supported not only in recovery, but for life. We offer periodic events, community-oriented social media, and continuing care groups designed to reinforce your choices and help you feel connected. You will even make some new sober friends along the way.