If you’re new to recovery, we know you’re hearing a lot of advice right now. Your counselors, therapists, recovery peers, your family – everyone wants you to succeed. That’s why they’re taking the time to weigh in on what’s going on in your life. They care. One thing we hope you’re hearing over and over is this: you need to make sober friends and carve out your own niche in a community of people who support your ongoing recovery and sobriety. If you’re not hearing a lot of that, you should be – because evidence shows that adding sober friends to your social network can significantly increase your chances at sustained achieving and sustaining sobriety.
There’s a catch here that people who’ve never had to quit drinking or doing drugs don’t always seem to grasp: making friends when you’re sober is a lot different than making friends when you’re drinking and doing drugs.
When you’re drinking and using drugs, you hang out with people who drink and/or do drugs. Which means you automatically have that in common. Alcohol and drugs also grease the wheels of social interaction by decreasing anxiety and lowering inhibitions. It’s easy to say hi in a crowded bar or party when everyone is a little tipsy, the music is loud, and the entire point of the occasion is to be social.
When you’re in recovery, though, you won’t find yourself in that situation – or at least you shouldn’t.
So how do you make friends?
You start by saying “Yes” when people in your 12-step support meeting ask you to a recovery fellowship picnic this summer.
Go to The Picnic
We want to reiterate how important it is to create a social life for yourself that does not revolve around drinking or doing drugs. It can make all the difference in the world. It can literally save your life. That’s why people should be saying it to you if you’re in treatment, and that’s why we’re saying it over and over in this blog: community support is an essential element of a successful recovery.
If you’re new to recovery, you may feel like you don’t know how to make friends. You may feel completely clueless. Like you have no idea what to say or do, no idea where to stand, and no idea what to do with your hands. Like you’re in middle school all over again.
It’s okay. Just about everybody feels that way at some point in recovery. That’s why people in your community support groups make a point to say hello, ask how you’re doing, and invite you to the sober picnic they’re hosting.
They ask because they’ve been where you’ve been. They’ve struggled with their version of rebuilding a life free of alcohol and drugs. They know how important it is to have people to talk to, have somewhere to go, and have a group of people who understand what you’re going through.
But we digress: this is about saying yes to that picnic.
We urge you to say yes to the picnic. Say yes to all the picnics. When you say yes to the picnic, you’re saying yes to community fellowship. You’re saying yes to support. You’re saying yes to the possibility of meeting a sponsor. Of meeting a friend. Of having the phone number of someone to call when recovery as you down and you need a friendly voice.
When you say yes to the picnic, you’re saying yes to sobriety.
Let’s say you take our advice: you say yes.
What should you bring?
Easy Picnic Potluck Recipes
We have no idea if you’re concerned with social etiquette or not, but if you want to make friends in recovery, it’s a good idea to show up to the potluck with a dish in hand, if possible. We understand that some people in recovery live in transitional housing on a limited budget with access to only basic cooking supplies. If that’s you, no problem – you can still be a good guest, bring a dish, and feel like you’ve contributed to the party.
For that reason, we’re going to keep this as simple as possible. Here are three things that are easy, quick, and inexpensive to make:
Green Salad (Basic Recipe)
- Buy lettuce (Spring mix, kale, or spinach), tomatoes, and red onion.
- Buy a cheap plastic bowl if you need one.
- Clean your greens and put them in the bowl.
- Slice tomatoes into quarters and put them on the lettuce.
- Chop or slice onions and add to lettuce and tomatoes.
- Slice cucumber and add to lettuce, tomatoes, and onion.
- Cover cucumbers with salt and pepper.
- Add one tablespoon of oil and one tablespoon of vinegar.
- To get fancy, peel an orange, separate the sections, cut them into chunks, and add – it’s yummy.
- You’re done!
If you have a little more time and access to stove, try this next recipe.
- Buy 5-6 red potatoes, 2 eggs, celery, green onions, milk, mayo, and mustard. Also buy dill if possible.
- Chop the potatoes into cubes (diced), put them in a pot filled with water, and boil until the potatoes slide of a fork. Drain, put in large bowl, cool to room temperature.
- Boil eggs until hard. Peel off the shell and chop them into cubes (diced). Chop the green onions and celery into smallish pieces. Mix eggs, onions, and celery in a bowl. Add half a cup of milk, a quarter cup of mayo, a teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of pepper, a dash of garlic (if you have it). Add dill to taste, then mix it all up.
- Mix the egg/yogurt/milk/spice combination with the potatoes (after they cool). Store it in the fridge.
- You’re done!
Now, if your access to a kitchen and supplies is extremely limited, or you’re simply not a cook at all – meaning even those first two suggestions made you nervous – here’s an old stand-by that everyone loves, and everyone can make.
Mac and Cheese (Always Wins)
- Buy 2-3 boxes of any kind of macaroni and cheese.
- Buy a pint of milk.
- Follow the directions on the box – which should be as simple as:
- Boil water.
- Add macaroni.
- Mix cheese powder and milk.
- Strain macaroni, put in bowl.
- Add cheese mix, stir.
- You’re done!
We started this post talking about the importance of adding new friends to your social network while you’re in recovery. We ended the post with potluck recipes.
They’re connected, we promise.
Here’s how: while all this may seem far too basic for some, for others, it’s exactly what they need. Many people in recovery have to reconstruct their lives from the ground up. If that’s you, then you know what we mean. It means relearning many of the basics, including how to say yes to potluck picnic invitations, remembering the need to show up to said potlucks with something in hand, and relearning – or learning for the first time – how to make some basic dishes in the kitchen.
And remember: it all starts with saying yes.