If it feels like you have to choose between having a social life and staying sober, think again. It is possible to have friends, go out on the weekends, and hang out with people in social settings without drinking or getting high. If you are new to recovery, it can take a little time to feel comfortable around other people while you are sober, but with a little practice, you will find that it gets easier and easier.
Here are a few tips to help you get started.
- Open Your Mind
You may not be able to do the same things, go to the same places, or hang out with the same people that you did while in active addiction, but there are a lot of ways to have fun while sober that you may have never considered in the past. It’s important to keep an open mind and avoid saying “I’m just not that kind of person,” or “That person at the 12-step meeting is 30 years older than I am; we have nothing in common.”
In order to get the most out of the summer and your recovery, staying social and sober means opening up to opportunities that you may enjoy or gain something from, including:
- Creating acquaintanceships and possibly friendships with people who are older, younger, or from a different background.
- Trying new outdoor activities like kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, paddle boarding, and more.
- Getting involved in your community through volunteer work.
- Connecting with new group activities that can be continued long after summer is over, like book clubs, walking groups, and volunteer organizations.
- Intentionally Connect
Just showing up to places where people are hanging out and not drinking or getting high is not enough. Heading to the beach by yourself for a concert and then going home will do nothing to build your social network. It is important that you are intentional with your time and your choices when you go out to connect with others in sobriety. You can and should purposefully choose to:
- Make small talk with the people around you. Allow conversations to grow naturally, and if you see someone you know from the rooms, go up and talk to them for a while.
- Bring extras of your favorite nonalcoholic beverage, snacks, or sunscreen, and offer to share with others.
- Have a good conversation with someone and ask if you will see them at the next event or if they’d like to meet up. For example, if you meet someone at the beach, ask if you will see them there the next time you plan to be there, and if not, invite them to meet up at a time that works for you both.
- Disengage from people who turn out to negative, sleazy, or heavily focused on substance use.
- Follow Up
Did you make a plan to meet up? Follow through and show up. Did you say you would call or text? Make sure you do it. Creating a solid sober network requires you to be a person of your word and consistent. If you’re nervous, consider the following tips:
- Text or call a few days after you last saw them.
- Text or call and leave a message. Just one time is enough.
- If you have a plan to meet up, text to confirm the day before.
- Offer to share supplies, the driving, or whatever responsibilities come with while doing the shared activity.
- Hit the Same Places
If you like music, make sure you’re going to the same outdoor music festivals or park series throughout the summer. If you run or kayak, try to hit up the same areas. If you are going to meetings or trying out different classes or community centers, go to the same ones regularly. Familiarity breeds comfort, and as people get used to seeing you around and you get used to seeing them, it may become easier to start up a conversation.
- Don’t Ignore Triggers
If social anxiety, the weather, exposure to substance abuse, or anything at all is causing you to crave drugs or alcohol, respond immediately by talking to your therapist and coming up with a plan. If that is not effective, consider returning to some level of outpatient addiction treatment to reconnect with your sober principles and get back on track as soon as possible.
How do you meet new people and socialize during the summer? How do you maintain your sobriety when you feel tempted to relapse?