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Newly sober and worried about your social life? I’ve got you!

When your weekends were filled with bars, clubs, and booze-filled nights at home, Fridays can feel much more daunting than they used to. You want to feel like you’re doing the right thing for your sobriety, yet you don’t want to feel bored or left out. I get it. I kept going to nightclubs the first month after I originally got sober (it was not fun at all) because I didn’t have any sober friends and didn’t want to lose my “vibrant” social life. Quickly, I realized this was a great waste of energy and extremely unfulfilling (also triggering).

So, where do I start?

My #1 suggestion for rebuilding your social life is to incorporate new healthy activities as soon as you can! I found the initial stage during my first few months of sobriety to be the easiest for me to re-arrange my schedule and form new, healthy habits. This is probably because I was so desperate for a different way of life. I was like an eager child (yet still very emotionally unstable). My hack for you is to go out there and involve yourself in as many new activities as you can, as soon as you can (of course, without overwhelming yourself or making it into something that becomes stressful). This will not only help you fill your time up, but it will be a great opportunity to meet new people and make friends! Also - check out sober events in your area! See if there's any local Instagram or TikTok posts discussing (legitimate, of course) sober meet-ups in your area.

But what if I have social anxiety?

Great question! I am not super extroverted, but I’m not entirely introverted either. I had a lot of social anxiety that started in high school and continued into my adult years. As I got sober and began working on myself, I started to understand that my anxiety was often trying to tell me something, which was that I was not putting myself in healthy situations. It’s not to say that this was always the case, but my body knew better than I did what was best for me. This has helped me access where I should and shouldn’t be spending my time. Now, during my active addiction, I only tried making friends through the party scene and work. I had no idea where tf I was going to start making new friends, and my social anxiety was through the roof for the first few months that I was sober. Once that subsided, I started attending more events around my community (workout classes, collaborative meet-ups, speaker panels, etc.) and tried introducing myself to more people (I would still sit at the back of the room a lot of the time and leave without saying a word to anyone). Eventually, I started to make friends. Call it spiritual, or manifestation (whatever term you prefer), but friends that I needed began entering my life. I also made friends in treatment, at dance class, in AA, concerts, and the more events I went to, especially if I brought another friend with me for comfort, the more I was able to meet similar-minded people. Long story short, find activities you love to do and start getting involved. Sooner rather than later, you will feel comfortable talking with new people, even if you had worse social anxiety than I did (and we’re talking full-blown panic attacks at times). If I can do it, you can too.

What if I want to go to an event but I’m scared because people will be drinking?

If you’re going to be in a situation where people are drinking, potentially heavily drinking, make a plan! This could be a concert, birthday party, or even a family event. When you go to these types of places, make sure to head home before a certain time, have a trusted friend with you, and make a plan for yourself when you get home. I used to get FOMO (fear of missing out) when I would stay at home on the weekends, but now I experience FOMO if I’m out doing anything on the weekends and would rather be at home. Funny how things shift.

But I’m just so lonely. I don’t think I’ll ever find happiness and excitement again.

I understand. I’ve been there, many times. Remember, it’s okay to not feel okay. It’s normal to feel lonely at times, especially early on in sobriety, but also at any point in sobriety. It’s not always simple re-configuring your social life to co-exist with your recovery lifestyle, but let me tell you one thing - I would much rather be lonely at home some nights than out there drinking and making myself sick. I’m not saying I enjoy feelings of loneliness, because it’s been painful plenty of times in my recovery journey, but being in active addiction was truly like living in hell. With that being said, it is important not to isolate yourself for too long. If the feelings of loneliness get to be too much, please reach out for help. Professionals are there for a reason and so are your fellow recovery members.

What if the pandemic has made me socially anxious?

Connectivity, for me, has been an extremely important aspect of my recovery. If you’re like me, the pandemic made me feel depressed, while simultaneously instilling quite a bit of fear at times. This is a whole other element to factor in when looking at your life in recovery. It can make social gatherings seem more uncomfortable than they used to, on top of already having to learn how to communicate without substances in your system. Discovering the right balance can be a challenge, but finding social situations in which you feel comfortable is vital to helping you stay connected with others.

In summation:

Overall, all I can say is that it does get easier. Your needs shift, your wants shift, and you grow out of desires you never thought you would’ve. There’s no need to worry. We all are just human at the end of the day trying to find our way to happiness in the best way possible. Don’t be hard on yourself, give yourself compassion, and also congratulate yourself for the fact that you are here and trying!

Featuring my lovely sister, who is also my best friend <3


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