People who withdraw in recovery have a much harder time managing their illness and changing risky patterns of isolation. Often addicts and alcoholics have been leading double lives, hiding their behavior from others. Finding new standards of openness, honesty, trust and willingness to participate however awkward it might be, are vital steps in building lasting relationships from the ground up. Success will build on itself and those who are making friends in recovery tend to stand a better chance of achieving long term sobriety.
To have great relationships, we first have to learn how to be a good friend, so don’t wait for others to open up, be willing to engage. Everyone needs someone to share experiences and conversation, and when you’re in recovery, you want to know someone has your back, so to speak, who doesn’t judge you and respects you as a human being. When displaying these qualities of loyalty and trust, you attract and inspire the same in return.
Be reliable and keep promises, or at least don’t make a habit of breaking plans and not returning phone calls. Listen as much as you talk to avoid monopolizing conversations, and take the time to truly understand and support your friend. It’s important to have an awareness and sensitivity that others think and feel differently; this may sound simple but most misunderstandings occur when a defensive stance is taken instead of a sympathetic one.
Making friends in recovery doesn’t mean we have to share our life’s history with everyone, or have a great number of people we consider close friends. It is however, an integral part of happiness to show people, to a degree, who we truly are, and allow ourselves to know them in return. Relationships create psychological space and safety so that we can explore and learn more about ourselves and find a rewarding support system in the process. No one needs to feel they are alone, or that sobriety is something they can treat without the benefit of help from others. We remind each other through having good friends that we care and are worth being cared for.