Friendship during recovery enriches your life and can improve your health, but it’s not always easy to make or preserve friendships. Understand the importance of friendship in your life and what you can do to make friends so you can create strong friendship during recovery.

The Benefits of Friendship

Good friends are beneficial to your mental and physical health. Friends are there to celebrate happy times and provide support during the dark times.1 Friends keep you from feeling lonely and offer you the opportunity to provide companionship to others.

Friendships can enhance your feelings of happiness, acceptance and purpose and reduce your stress. Friendship during recovery can increase your self-confidence and self-esteem. Friends can provide shoulders to lean on when you’re coping with traumatic life events, such as divorce, the death of a loved one, sickness or loss of employment.

Especially since you’re in recovery, good friends will encourage you to stay away from unhealthy behaviors, such as drinking or taking drugs. If a friend doesn’t, this is someone to avoid.

Friendships also play a meaningful part in promoting your physical health. People with strong social support have longer life expectancies and show less risk for many health problems, including depression, hypertension and obesity.2

Meeting New People

Sometimes it’s hard to make new friends, especially when you’re focused on staying sober and building your own life, but a little creativity can go a long way. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Recovery Meetings: Your 12-step meetings are a rich source of potential friends. You can observe your peers in a group setting and decide who seems like a good fit for friendship during recovery. Make small talk with them before and after meetings to see if there’s a compatibility you can build upon. If there is, suggest a social activity like dinner or a sports activity that you both enjoy and see where it leads.

Community Events: Do research on local groups that share an interest or hobby you have. You can find these groups in newspapers, community bulletin boards or on the internet. Use search engines to find websites that can help you connect with new friends locally by entering your hobby or interest and your zip code.

Volunteer: Offer your time at a local organization, such as museum, community center, charity or hospital. These are great places to form a friendship during recovery, because you’re with people who have mutual interests.

Friendship During Recovery Tips

Persistence is key when you’re looking to make new friends. Many of the attempts you make may not be successful, but don’t give up. Sometimes you have to deal with many people before you uncover a few gems who will turn into long-lasting friendships.

Most of all, keep a positive attitude. Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t quickly making friends. Maintain a friendly attitude to help improve the relationships already in your life and to plant the seeds of friendship with acquaintances you’ve just met.