When I got sober, I went into it expecting to be lonely. All my friends spent most of their spare time drinking or drugging, so what was I supposed to do? Hang out with them and just not drink? Well, I tried that for a while. Turns out, if you’re hanging out with drug addicts, you’re probably going to get high. That accounted for a few of my relapses. Ultimately, I had to say goodbye to many of my old friends.
My prophecy of loneliness turned out to be self-fulfilling. I stayed away from my old friends and made no effort to make new ones. I was lonely. I had nothing to do in my free time and I spent it feeling sorry for myself. Unsurprisingly, this caused me to relapse as well. Who would have thought that putting zero effort into sobriety would lead to failure? Shocking, I know.
Somehow, I managed to survive my relapses, despite a few close calls. I’m not sure what it was, but something started to motivate me. I was truly sick and tired of being an addict and all the pain and suffering it caused me (and the people around me, but let’s be honest, it was mostly about me). So, I decided to do something truly crazy: I was going to go out and enjoy my life.
My social relationships in early sobriety were all other people in recovery. I was lucky enough to go to treatment followed by an extended stay in sober living. All the guys around me were going through the same thing, and we stuck together—for the most part. Naturally, there were pockets of people who went back out (some of whom sadly didn’t make it back), but we learned how to live sober together. We supported each other as we found new hobbies and activities and got back into dating (which could be a blog topic unto itself). Some of the friends I made in treatment and sober living are the people I still turn to today, years later.
Eventually, it was time for me to move on from sober living. I decided to go back to school, in a different city across the country. I was faced with a similar situation as I was much earlier—everyone around me was partying and I needed to stay sober. The loneliness was rough at first. I made some friends through school, but it was slow going, and everyone I met seemed to want to go out all the time.
This is where the recovery community saved me. I was lucky to go to a university that had an official recovery group, so I joined that. I made some great friends there, and eventually got a job working there. I made some of my best college memories there. I also made myself a part of the city’s recovery community. I became a regular at AA meetings near me and made new friends that way. The loneliness evaporated. Soon I had a busy social schedule, hanging out with friends and even dating. My social life felt even more fulfilling than it did when I was using, and I didn’t even have to deal with negative consequences. It seems like a sweet deal to me. All I had to do was put myself out there, and the rest took care of itself.