All your friends were once strangers. A slightly intimidating dynamic can come into your life in early recovery: Making new friends. In our work with residents at the AToN center we highly encourage participation in community based recovery groups. The can be 12-step, SMART recovery or any of the various available alternatives. Spending time in rooms where others are openly discussing and working on recovery can be an invaluable asset. However, this also means getting through the nerves that can come from going to a place where you don’t know anyone and they may already have an established social dynamic. Here are a few tops to get the ball rolling on building new social support in your new recovery.
Try many meetings – Sometimes you will have to attend a number of different meetings at different times and at different locations in order to find one that works for you. To be honest there are bad meetings out there but don’t let those few experiences generalize to all of the meetings out there.
Go multiple times – Meetings can take on different vibes on different weeks depending on the attendees. If you are consistent in attending on meeting for a few weeks you will start to get a better feel for who the consistent participants are and their approach to recovery.
Small talk – If you aren’t ready to make disclosures about big picture struggles in your life you may want to start with something less intimidating. You can talk about movies, local restaurants, music, TV shows, pets, where you have lived, clothes, sports, etc. Sometimes the small talk will lead to the “big” talks.
Make time – Working your schedule so you can show up early and leave late will give you the breathing room to have the “meeting after the meeting.”
Ask for connection – During the meeting if you take a moment to disclose to the group that you are looking to build more support and find good meetings others will very often take the time to approach you after session.
These are just a few tips that will help you develop your own “recovery family” that will provide you with a crucial safety net throughout your recovery.