Adjusting your social group to meet the needs of sobriety

Achieving sobriety is an uphill challenge. There are a lot of complicated moving parts that contribute towards a person finding sobriety, but one that needs to be talked about is social groups.

Social isolation can increase the risk of relapse, and for this reason it is important that we as sober addicts have a social group that we can interact with in whatever way works for us; but how do we ensure we have a safe social group?

As substance addicts, it is likely that our friend groups have consisted of other drug and alcohol users. In my experience, it is impossible to maintain sobriety while surrounded by the very thing we are trying to escape. In order to let go of our past behaviour and embrace the future, we often must make the difficult decision to remove certain people from our lives.

When I achieved sobriety, I was forced to cut off a lot of people. It was a difficult but necessary step. The good thing was that the people I had left behind during active addiction, slowly rejoined my life, and I also met new people. So what were the needs of my sobriety?

I needed friends who were going to support and encourage me in my sobriety, celebrating my successes with me, while helping me work through my struggles. I needed friends who would not tempt me with drug use. While my friends do enjoy the occasional drink, none of them pressure me to partake, and none of them treat me differently for being the one person who chooses not to drink.

On the other hand, the people I removed from my life did nothing but bring drugs and alcohol to the forefront of my mind, and make me feel uncomfortable for not wanting to partake. They couldn’t fathom a life without using, and that was what I needed to get away from.

The friends I have now go out of there way to help me protect my sobriety, they consist of friends I have known since childhood, and the new people I have met along the way. I explicitly trust my friends, and know that they would never put me in harms way.

This has been vital to maintaining my sobriety. My social group has been a driving force in my new life, and while it has been difficult leaving others behind, it was necessary to cut that toxicity out of my life.

One piece of advice I would like you to take away from this is the following; if you are struggling to find sobriety, start by looking at the people around you. Changing your social group is not the only path to sobriety, but it is a vital step in honour of this.

Published by David Gray-Hammond

David Gray-Hammond is an autistic mental health and addiction advocate living in the South East of England. He is in recovery from addiction and psychosis, as well as other complex mental health conditions. He was diagnosed as autistic seven months after achieving sobriety, and is resolved to share his experiences with the world in the hopes of being the person that he needed when he was younger.

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