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Expand Your Sober Support Network

Choosing a sober life requires perseverance. Your decisions to stay the course are necessary, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be moments when you feel isolated in recovery. So it’s essential to expand your sober support network with people you can rely on for authentic connection, help you avoid loneliness, and feel more grounded. 

Socializing is Good and Good for You

Mental health experts believe having a sense of belonging among people with shared interests or experiences is a form of preventative medicine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that having supportive and inclusive relationships provides the following benefits, which we share verbatim: 

  • Improve your ability to recover from stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Promote healthy eating, physical activity, and weight
  • Improve sleep, well-being, and quality of life
  • Reduce your risk of violent and suicidal behaviors
  • Prevent death from chronic diseases

The CDC further indicates that strong social connections help reduce the likelihood of serious illnesses and outcomes such as:  

  • Dementia
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke

For individuals choosing sobriety, mutual aid support programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, and others demonstrate the power of community, especially one that allows you to feel seen, heard, and valued. Addiction science specialists point to peer support groups during addiction treatment, in aftercare, and in recovery as showing “much promise in potentially reducing substance use, improving engagement, reducing HIV/HCV risk behaviors, and improving substance-related outcomes.”

Research also reinforces the importance of having a sense of belonging, usually defined as “the subjective feeling of deep connection with social groups, physical places, and individual and collective experiences” and considered “a fundamental human need that predicts numerous mental, physical, social, economic, and behavioral outcomes.”

Even someone with the most introverted personality can find a small group of like-minded people to share common views. Being involved, feeling as though you matter, and having a support system—every person thrives when these elements are present. 

How to Expand Your Sober Support Network 

There are many ways to build a strong circle of friends, family members, and associates who understand your sobriety goals and help you succeed. Here are some methods for expanding your circle. 

  • Take advantage of all aftercare options — Opportunities accessed through most addiction rehabilitation facilities, including Great Oaks Recovery Center, include continuing care programs such as sober living houses, outpatient aftercare therapy, alumni events, and recovery renewal weekends.
  • Participate in outdoor adventure groups — Join outdoor adventure programs focused on activities like hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, or camping. Groups such as Adventure Recovery, Sober Outside, and others foster camaraderie and provide opportunities for meaningful connections with others who share a love for nature and adventure.
  • Lead animal-assisted therapy programs — Volunteer at shelters or participate in animal-assisted therapy programs, such as equine therapy, where you can interact with animals and connect with other people who share a love for creatures. Another bonus is that animal companionship can be comforting and provide emotional support during challenging times.
  • Get involved in community service projects — Working together to make a positive impact in your community strengthens bonds with fellow volunteers and provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Engage in initiatives that align with your interests and values, such as tending a community garden or urban farm, assisting in charitable home building or renovation programs, beautifying a neighborhood with art, and so on.
  • Join a storytelling or musicians’ collective — When individuals come together to share personal experiences, anecdotes, and reflections, this type of storytelling fosters empathy, understanding, and a sense of connection. Many people also find great interdependence through music, exchanging meaningful expressions without talking, such as a drum circle or musical games.
  • Try some sober apps — Another way to create more face-to-face interactions is through technology. Sober Grid, I Am Sober, and Loosid are just a few apps that help you move beyond the usual meeting group and interact with others.

By exploring these non-traditional avenues for support and connection, you’ll find meaningful relationships with others who share your interests, passions, and values.

The Great Oaks’ Alumni Connection

At Great Oaks Recovery Center outside of Houston, Texas, we have a dedicated alumni coordinator who stays in touch with all of our clients, arranges various events, and forms a bridge for people to meet each other at every stage of their sobriety journey. We also offer the CaredForApp that helps you stay connected with recovery resources and alumni who are choosing to stay in close contact with our center and each other.