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Navigating Your Social Life in Early RECOvery

Possibly one of the scariest parts about sobriety is laying out the future of your social life. You experienced the trials of addiction, received treatment, and have dedicated to a life of sobriety for your own health and wellness. But what about everyone else in your life? While you went through an enormous change, the people in your life might not have. There might be people in your life who remember the old you. They might have seen you at your worse, they might have enabled you, or they might have felt lost in their effort to support you. 

Start With Confidence

While in the darkest parts of your addiction, having a negative self-image can be common. When you’re journeying through the world, it can be hard to believe in yourself and why you’re choosing to stay sober. You might have had friends who supported your choice to seek treatment, but you also might have had friends who weren’t and enabled your substance use. The choice of sobriety can come with mixed reactions, from support to inappropriate questions, to unsolicited advice, to even rejection. 

Your instinct might be to agree or rethink your choices because rejection stings. However, it’s important to remember that some of these reactions are just projections of their own worldview. They’re not your own opinions. You won’t have control over how people react, but you do have control over how you react. Even though staying sober is unconventional in a lot of social circles, it’s what’s right for you. 

Make Important Changes

The early stages of recovery are when you are most vulnerable to relapse. When you reenter the world post-treatment, there are some big changes you will have to make in your life. You’ll have old routines and habits that influenced substance use. You might have friends you used to hang out with, whether it’s co-workers who meet after work at the bar, or maybe friends you’d smoke with after school. Even alcohol at a wedding could be a potential trigger. That doesn’t mean that you should avoid all social interactions. What that does mean is that it’s important to identify potential triggers and what social situations could have those triggers. This can be hard because it might mean cutting off ties, but know that by going through this process, you’ll find relationships that aren’t dependent on substance use and can thrive through sobriety.

Navigating Toxic Relationships

There is a chance that you might have to cut out a few relationships. This can be hard, especially with close relationships, but it’s important to maintain healthy boundaries when you are in recovery. There might be some people who were in your life because of your addiction. Whether it was a drinking buddy or a group of friends who used with you, your relationship might be based entirely on the very thing you are recovering from. If these people can respect you during this time, avoid enabling you, never use around you, and maintain a meaningful relationship with you while sober, they may be worth keeping around. However, if they pressure you or disrespect you, it’s better to end those relationships.

Repair Relationships

Before treatment, there is a chance that there were relationships that suffered due to your addiction. There may be a lot of resentment and shame that has built up between you and your loved ones, and owning up to your role in it during a time you felt out of control can be challenging. 

Nevertheless, support from loved ones is crucial. If they are willing to continue a relationship with you while you’ve dedicated to staying clean, repairing the damage will take work. Having open, honest, and tough conversations is the first step. 

There Will Be New Friends

While you might lose some friends with these life changes, remember that there will always be new ones. During recovery, you’ll meet plenty of new people, whether it’s through support groups, newfound hobbies, or new communities. 

In the past, you may have been passive in your relationships, but with this fresh start, you can actively pursue deep relationships. These people can be your healthy support system, your guidance, your community. Find people who will have your back and know your story. 

Don’t Self-Isolate

The most important part of navigating your social life is socializing. Humans are naturally social creatures, and self-isolation can seriously damage our mental health. Relationships are crucial to recovery because we need those support systems. Recognize when you are starting to self-isolate and reach out to someone you trust. 


Socializing in early recovery can bring on a series of emotions. It might be scary, overwhelming, intimidating, painful, relieving, and joyful all at once. You might lose friendships, gain new ones, lose communities and gain new ones, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it. You’re worth it. During recovery, you’re creating a new path in life and that takes work. With the right guidance and support, you’ll be happier with the people who’ve stayed and at peace with the people who’ve let you go. During a time of social distancing, it’s important to stay safe, but it can be easy to do so. Video chat with a friend, take a socially distanced walk with masks, create a bubble with trusted friends. At RECO Intensive, we know how important relationships are to RECOvery. We take pride in our alumni and the community you have formed. Don’t be afraid to reach out! Call us at (561) 464-6533. We’re happy to stay in touch.

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