They might be in some unexpected places.
“A friend is one who walks in when others walk out.” — Walter Winchell
It was probably about the six-month mark that I knew things were going to be different between me and my friends now that I was living an alcohol-conscious life.
It’s not that we still weren’t talking and trying to hang out when we could. It was that I was finding myself desiring to do some of the things that we used to do less and less.
In the past, getting together every Friday and Saturday night, drinking at our local spot to pregame, and then heading off to the nightclub or hookah spot of choice seemed like immense fun.
Now, it just seemed like I was “groundhog-daying” my life away and not making the progress on the goals that I had promised myself some time ago.
Therefore, as I ventured more and more into alcohol-consciousness, I began wanting to spend my time doing more productive things than sitting around a bar and talking about what we did the last time we came out and sat around a bar.
I had a problem, however.
As I began to lose my connections with some of my current friends, I felt as if I did need to find an avenue for new friendships to make sure I was creating a well-balanced life for myself.
My wife enjoys spending time with me, but if she’s the ONLY person that I have to spend time with, I’m sure that could get a bit taxing for her.
With that being said, I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to identify several new avenues for friendship that allowed me to prevent this from happening.
FRIENDS IN SOBER / ALCOHOL-CONSCIOUS GROUPS
There are so many of these groups out there, that it makes sense to join one if you are just starting out on this journey and don’t have many other individuals to turn to for support.
As shared in Why Having a Friend To Help You Quit Makes it SO Much Easier, trying to get through the initial tough stages of alcohol-consciousness on your own can be particularly challenging.
To help alleviate this, there are a number of groups that you can join that could be a great source to find support from others who have already been or are currently on the same journey as you who will be able to give you that daily or weekly support when you may have a moment of weakness.
Over time, as you begin to lean on these individuals for help and/or find yourself becoming a support for others, these individuals could be a source to find new friends.
Of course, when meeting anyone online, you must use some caution to ensure they are who they claim to be and make sure to not put yourself in a situation in which you are meeting someone alone or outside of a public place for safety for the first time.
However, as long as you are careful and take things slow with initial interactions, these groups could be a potential avenue to find other like-minded individuals who are in the same boat as you and can truly relate.
FRIENDS IN NEW HOBBY GROUPS
As shared in numerous posts, one of the biggest things you will realize once you stop drinking is that you will have TONS of free time that you will need to fill up somehow.
Most people have no concept of how much time is completely consumed by drinking until they give it up, and then they are left wondering what in the world are they supposed to do with all of that extra time.
It’s not wise just to hang out and do nothing because your mind will find a way to begin questioning if you should be filling it with alcohol instead. Therefore, you need to make sure you fill it with some kind of new activity or hobby to prevent a potential relapse.
This could also be a great way to find new friends if you decide to partake in a new hobby that involves collaborating or communicating with others.
Some of the more popular ones usually are exercise and running groups since physical exercise is a great stress reliever as well as a natural endorphin creator to reduce or prevent alcohol cravings that could come with time.
If exercising isn’t your thing, there are a number of different activities you could explore to see if they are for you as well.
Sites like Meetup.com have a plethora of different groups where people gather who have an interest in all sorts of things.
Did you just finish watching The Queen’s Gambit, and you’re now bit with the chess bug?
You could see if there are any local chess groups in your area that you could join to learn or perhaps start one if there isn’t.
How about a musical instrument? For many, this is one of the things on their “I really want to do this one day” list.
Perhaps, you can start taking some classes and meet others who are looking to do the same.
There are a number of different ideas that you could explore, depending on what you’re into and what creates excitement for you.
Need help with ideas?
Here’s a neat list of 50 ideas that could be a good place to start.
EXISTING ACQUAINTANCES WHO YOU SEE THROUGH A NEW LIGHT
One area that I didn’t initially consider but has really been a source of great support and friendship for me has actually been individuals with whom I already knew that I didn’t really have that great of a relationship.
These were individuals who usually didn’t want to party with me or didn’t seem as interesting since they didn’t want to do many of the same things that I did.
When I would ask them to go hang out or grab a beer, they often had other things that they were interested in doing with their time.
Back then, any leisure activity that didn’t involve some type of drinking usually didn’t provide much interest to me.
However, now that I’m alcohol-conscious and see things in such a different manner, I find myself more and more interested in many of the things that would not have captured my attention in the past, and, in turn, spend time with many people that I wouldn’t have.
This has led to the discovery of connections that I didn’t think I had with people because I never really gave them a chance, as well as the maturation of friendships that may only have been acquaintances before.
Many of these individuals have provided a new perspective on life and given me a sense of understanding what my new future could look like without alcohol being such a major part of it.
It was with many of these people that I found myself having dinners and lunches on the weekend, as opposed to staying out till the wee hours of the morning like I would in the past.
Since my life looked drastically different from the past, I needed other things to do with my time and friends who could partake in those activities with me.
These were the individuals who helped fill those gaps.
Overall, it has been rather interesting and somewhat surprising how these friendships have continued to blossom over time.
And while I can’t say that the loss of friends didn’t cause some pain, I feel grateful for the new friends that have helped me get to where I am today on my alcohol-conscious journey.