Newfound Sobriety and Loneliness: How We Can Build Better and Healthier Friendships

depressed man sitting in dark room

Shortly after we enter recovery, it can seem like we’ve lost a lot of friends in the process. Our “party” groups, the people we associated with, and the environments that we spent time in suddenly become triggers to avoid. However, it is important to remember that these friendships were built on the house of cards that is addiction. A friendship that is contingent on the presence of a substance is not a friendship at all.

This temporary “loneliness” can be triggering for many people during the early stages of recovery. Our day-to-day lives may seem a little slower, more stable, and more predictable. These are all good things! However, our intuitive, kneejerk reaction to removing ourselves from certain environments and limiting contact with specific friend groups for our own health can be difficult to manage.

Reentering the World in Recovery 

One of the more difficult aspects of leaving a treatment program and trying to maintain long-lasting recovery is reentering a world where drugs and alcohol are readily available. When you’re in a program, the people that you spent time with when you were using aren’t around. When you leave, you may feel a strong urge to reconnect with them because, for a period of time, they were your main source of socialization and community. Resisting this impulse is imperative to maintaining your sobriety.

Even if you do your best to avoid your old communities and friend groups, you are still entering a world that is not built and organized around recovery. Vices exist around us, and in order to steer clear of them, you must reorganize your life and the people you spend time with in order to stay on the road to recovery.

New Friends and Relationships 

Upon leaving treatment, many people find that they suddenly have more idle time in sobriety than before. This is why building new, sober hobbies and networks are crucial to long-lasting recovery. Boredom and feelings of loneliness are two things that many people struggle with when working on their recovery. To combat this, it is important that we work to build new relationships that are not centered around drugs or alcohol.

Staying active in our meetings and community is a crucial first step. For many people, meetings are where they meet new friends that are struggling with similar issues. Integrating ourselves into this community and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable may be uncomfortable at times, but it is worthwhile when we are working on our recovery.

Battling the Blank Slate Blues

Think of reentering the world in recovery as a blank slate. You can’t pick up where you left off when you first went into recovery, so you need to focus on your own health as you build new relationships. Transitioning from a controlled environment to a world where you have the freedom to do as you please can be a culture shock, but by building new friendships and hobbies, you can alleviate some of the discomfort associated with this transition.

Making new friends and finding new hobbies as an adult can feel a little awkward, but that’s okay! Luckily, it is likely that your peers in support groups are going through the same struggle or have experienced it in the past. This is a great starting point that you can use to build new friendships as you battle the “blank slate blues” that are often associated with early recovery efforts.

Solitude and Sobriety 

While it is important to build new relationships and friendships in the early stages of recovery, it is also important that we learn how to be alone. Many people who are in the early stages of recovery may find that solitude is too much to bear. It can be difficult to be alone with our thoughts as people who struggle with addiction and mental/emotional health issues. However, learning to live in the moment with our emotions is crucial to long-lasting recovery. Through activities like journaling and meditation, we can learn to better take inventory of our feelings, triggers, and intuitive responses to the outside world.

This allows us to build better, healthier friendships as we work the steps to maintain our recovery.

Solidarity Amongst Those in Recovery

It can be easy to feel alone when we enter recovery. It is a common, shared experience among people who are struggling to free themselves of the burden of active addiction. In this shared experience exists the foundation of new friendships, hobbies, and happiness in recovery. Sometimes it may feel as though you are the only person experiencing difficulty in recovery. You aren’t! It is one of the hardest things people have to do. If we embrace the discomfort and learn to live in those difficult moments of vulnerability, we learn that those around us are experiencing the same thing.

Leaving the controlled environment of a program and reentering the world can be very difficult. We may find that we are bored, lonely, and struggling to fill our time with healthy hobbies and new relationships focused on recovery. This newfound boredom and loneliness cause many men to struggle in early recovery, making long-lasting sobriety seem impossible for some. At Jaywalker Lodge, we strive to provide an environment where men who have struggled on the road to recovery can finally achieve lifelong sobriety. Our team of professionals works with you to build an individually tailored recovery plan that centers around the 12-Step process, a sober living environment, and community-based recovery. Our four-phase process is designed to alleviate many of the difficulties associated with a life of sobriety, like boredom and loneliness. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and recovery, please reach out to us today at (866) 529-9255.

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