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The Importance of Cultivating New Friendships in Recovery

Alcoholics and addicts usually enter sobriety with their lives in shambles. Recovery is like a new world, and the less it overlaps with the old world, the better. This often pertains to friendships as well.

Cindy, who valued her new sobriety, decided to go out with her old friends for dinner and catch-up conversation. Her companions drank cheerfully while she sipped ginger ale.

Occasionally, someone would offer her a drink and she would decline. Finally, her best drinking pal said, “Hey, come on, this is a reunion! You’re in your own world over there. Just have a glass of wine, you’ll be fine.”

One glass of wine led to four more, which led to a stop at the liquor store on the way home, and to a disastrous relapse.

Rob, four months out of treatment, got a call from an old friend, who then came over to visit, sat down in the living room, and placed a bag of weed and a vial of cocaine on the coffee table. The sudden appearance of the drugs, their immediate availability, and the friend’s nonchalance about it all overwhelmed Rob’s new sobriety and he was off on a four-day binge.

They common element here is that the friends in both stories were either clueless—or didn’t care—about the dynamics of alcoholism and drug addiction, and the fragility of new sobriety.

It’s the first drink or drug that has to be avoided. Proximity to these, and encouragement to use them, makes abstinence harder.

Recovery is a communal experience. Sober people support each other’s sobriety.

Although groups contain a variety of people who would not normally mix, the common element of having hit bottom and emerging to a new and more satisfying life connects them.

Relationships based on a deep caring for each other’s welfare can become precious, life-long friendships.

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