In our culture it is so easy to make alcohol – or any other substance – into a “social lubricant.” We can get used to thinking we need a drink just to be okay with being around people, especially if we don’t know them well. Here are some ways to make friends while managing your anxiety:
1) Find some places to meet people. Take a class in something you might enjoy, or join a club or group that does not drink or use together. You might also meet people at meetings, which is a great place to start as long as you are selective and surround yourself with people you can trust.
2) Truly be with other people. Try to focus more on what they are thinking and feeling than on your own anxiety or worries about what they might be thinking about you. Let conversation flow.
3) Breathe, and take a break if you need to, but don’t avoid society altogether.
4) Remember people are way more interested in their own stuff than they are in whatever you are doing.
5) Take it slow. Friendships and connections might not seem to happen as quickly when you are sober, but the connections you will form will be stronger. Just take it one step at a time.
6) Get some extra help. A therapist or counselor can help you get at the root of these issues, and help you to cope with them more effectively.
Kirsten Helgager, PsyD
AToN Center 888-535-1516