This is one of the most common questions I get from newly sober folks. Now that you’ve quit drinking, where are you supposed to meet new friends?
A lot of people find their new friend group in recovery programs like AA, but what if you’re not into AA? What then?
Before you put yourself out there, it’s important to make sure you’re in the right mindset. Fun looks different when you’re not getting drunk all the time. The boozy social scene is not for you anymore, that’s clear.
But what do YOU want to do and who is your new sober tribe going to include?
Here are some things you can do to reinvent your new sober social life and find friends that are on the same page.
Join groups and activities that focus on health.
Health-centered activities are more likely to include people who are either sober or don’t drink very much. Of course, there are always exceptions, but it’s a good place to start.
Find a fitness group or gym.
It’s not uncommon for people in early sobriety to channel their energy into a new fitness routine. Showing up consistently to a gym or fitness class is a great way to find new sober friends.
Many fitness studios have a strong, familial culture. If you find something you’re passionate about, this can be a genuinely transformative move for you!
Examples of fitness programs with strong social cultures include:
- Local running or walking clubs
- Orange Theory
- Adult sports leagues like co-ed softball or kickball (caution: these can be boozy social scenes so scope them out ahead of time)
- Whatever sounds fun to you!
Even if alcohol makes its way into a social setting, your connection with these people isn’t based on drinking together. It’s a different dynamic altogether!
Search for different fitness programs, clubs, and groups in your area, see what sparks your interest, and give it a shot.
Join sober or health-related Meetups.
If you’re unfamiliar with Meetup, it’s an online platform that facilitates “meetups” for people across an infinite range of interests.
Want to find a local paddleboarding group? They’ve got it. Fancy a fun Silent Disco? If there’s one happening, Meetup will probably have it.
You can search by topic and find a sober social group in your area or even a niche social group that just sounds fun to you and isn’t going to be centered around drinking. For example, healthy cooking groups, home gardening, meditation, and yoga groups.
Meetup is a great way to get out there and connect with other adults looking to make new social or professional connections.
Explore sober retreats and vacation groups.
There are so many sobriety and recovery retreats available both domestically and internationally. Depending on your needs and means, signing up to participate in a recovery-focused getaway in a beautiful location sounds pretty damn good to me!
Go to sober bars and raves.
In recent years, “dry bars” and sober raves have been popping up across the US and other parts of the globe. Bespoke bars with elaborate mocktail menus provide the “going out” vibe without the alcohol and antics.
They’re nice! If you live in or near a major city, chances are there is one near you.
Additionally, you can check out sober raves and events like Daybreaker, a super-charged morning rave that is 100% sober. Although Daybreaker is online currently (as is most of the world), hopefully by mid-to-late 2021, they’ll be up and running live events again.
- Related Post: 7 Fun Activities You Can Do That Don’t Involve Alcohol
Choose a new hobby and find social opportunities connected to it.
The common thread through all of these strategies for connecting with new sober friends is to remove alcohol from the equation as much as possible.
That’s really hard to do when you meet a new person and they say, “Hey let’s grab a drink sometime!”
If your primary reason for getting to someone, however, is to participate in a non-alcohol-related activity, it becomes easier to keep things sober.
Here are some ideas outside the world of sobriety and health that you can try.
Sign-up to take adult classes based on your interests.
Maybe you’ve been watching HGTV and want to learn how to repurpose old furniture. Find a class in your area that can teach you to do that.
Want to learn to bake like a Food Network star? You can do that, too!
Sobriety affords you many benefits. Time is one of them. Use it to find something that you can busy yourself with while meeting people who share your interests.
Pursuing your interests is also a great way to safeguard against boredom and rumination which can lead to relapse.
Use social media to your advantage.
Take your online relationships offline!
If you participate in online sober communities, like Soberish, reach out to see if there are any members in your area who would like to get together.
Join niche Facebook groups in your area. If you’re a parent, try joining a mommy or daddy group (yes, both exist). Thinking back to your new hobbies and interest, look for a local niche group to get into and engage with people in your community who like the same stuff as you!
Even gyms and fitness studios will have social media pages that you can interact with and start to build friendly bonds with people in your area.
I can’t tell you the number of times in my mommy group that a member posts, “Hi! I’m new here and have zero mommy friends. Anyone wants to get together?”
People get it and are down to hang out. It’s way scarier to think about reaching out than to actually do it, I promise.
Join a book club or a similar club.
I’ve mentioned book clubs in previous articles helping people find fun activities to do that don’t involve alcohol. They’re great!
They also are wonderful places to meet new people. Yes, I realize that some book clubs are just an excuse to get together and drink wine and hang out, but not all of them are that way.
If you’re not a big reader, you can join a gaming club or cooking club. We had a group that got together every week to play Spades and Uno and it was fun as hell!
The key is to do your research and find these spaces, then work up the courage to join.
Get creative and keep an open mind.
Sometimes you have to think outside of the box. Especially if that box used to be filled with cheap wine.
Where is there an opportunity in your life to connect with more people that you are currently not using? Do you have children? Piggyback off of their social life.
Coordinate playdates with the parents of your kid’s besties. Take the initiative to host it yourself so that you can control the environment better and keep it alcohol-free if you choose.
Giving back is a great way to connect with kind-hearted people who could be potential sober friends! There are so many different volunteer opportunities out there, and the need is greater than ever.
Find something that you are passionate about and sign up. Your new bestie might be the guy working on picking up trash with you in the park or the gal showing you the ropes at the animal shelter. You never know!
- Related Post: How to Forgive Yourself in Early Sobriety and Beyond
Step out of your comfort zone.
Getting creative might involve pushing your boundaries a little further. That’s okay and part of the process! If your social life up to this point has primarily consisted of drinking with drinking buddies, seeking the opposite might feel weird.
You may find that you connect well with people in your sober life that you wouldn’t have considered when you drank. Try not to prejudice people with preconceived notions of who would or wouldn’t be fun to hang out with.
Honestly, you just don’t know. Cast a wide net.
Conversely, actively protect your mission to stay sober and find like-minded sober peeps to hang out with. You can do this by curating your social media feed so you’re not knowingly stepping into FOMO traps.
It’s very easy to look at pretty pictures of people at a party with glasses of alcohol in hand and completely forget that the reality is not picture perfect.
Protect yourself from doom scrolling Instagram on a Friday night. Make plans to do things in the morning so that you have to get to bed early. Log off when you feel tempted to go out to a bar or start feeling lonely and think drinking might help.
Most importantly, stay optimistic. Friendships are hard. Adult friendships are complicated. We’re busy and have lives that extend in a dozen different directions. Give it time and rely on your support systems both online and in real life to provide you with positive social interactions while you figure out this whole sober friends thing.
Your tribe is out there, my friend!