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A sober network is your first line of defense against obstacles that stand in your way of continued sobriety. Knowing that there is someone that you can quickly reach out to when you have a craving or just hearing a few words of encouragement gives you the momentum that you need to enjoy life in recovery. Yet, people sometimes forget how to build a social network that doesn’t revolve around drugs or alcohol. Now that you’re ready to eliminate harmful substances from your life, you can use these strategies to build a sustainable network of friends, family members and counselors who are all eager to provide you with support as you enjoy fun times together.

Make Room for Positive Influences

When you first go to addiction treatment, one of the things that you talk about in your therapy sessions is how to let go of people that do not support your sobriety. Negative influences in your life may include people who do drugs or those who just add more stress when you don’t need it. While it is hard to let go of people that you spent so much time with, this process of narrowing down your former social group is easier when you can look forward to filling it back up with supportive people. As you begin to eliminate negative influences from your life, just be sure to set firm boundaries. It is perfectly fine to tell someone that you can no longer hang out until they can also commit to a life of sobriety.

Identify Supportive Family and Friends

Letting go of bad influences leaves you with much more room for people that truly care about your well-being. Right now, you likely have quite a few people in the world that love you, but they may have had to step away when you were in the worst stages of your addiction. If there are people that you have hurt in the past, then work with your counselors to develop a plan to make amends. You may be surprised at just how quickly your family and friends are ready to rally up with support when they know that you are serious about recovery.

Reach Out to Other People In Recovery

The recovery community is full of people who have battled addiction just like you, but they don’t always know that you need support. During your treatment, you likely met people who are willing to talk with you through difficult times or just spend some time together doing sober activities. While it is sometimes hard to put yourself out there, be sure to smile and say hello to the new people that you meet. When you are willing to open up, others will, too. Once they do, be sure to follow-up by making plans to talk again. It’s always nice to know that you can connect with someone who understands what you are going through.

Choose to Live With Sober Housemates

After leaving residential treatment, you can also choose to live in a recovery community. These communities are typically considered a halfway house or sober living, since you may still need to follow rules that are similar to what you experienced in residential treatment. However, they are typically looser so that you can continue to go to work, school and sober social events. For instance, you may need to respect a curfew or attend house meetings while you enjoy the freedom to go where you need to during the day. If you choose to return to your home, then you can also choose to only live with people who follow a sober lifestyle. Making sobriety a caveat for living with someone makes staying off of drugs just a part of your normal life.

Go to Addiction Recovery Meetings

One of the fastest ways to build a sustainable sober network is to go to recovery meetings in your community. This one simple action puts you in touch with people who live near you that are committed to addiction recovery. Since many group meetings also include social events such as dinners and dances, you can often find new friends who enjoy doing fun activities that keep your mind off of your cravings.

Building a new social network takes time, so be patient as you work through the initial stages of making new friends and reaching out to your loved ones. By maintaining your stance on only spending time with sober people, you will open up new doors to friendships that hold promise for an exciting future.