One of the hardest parts about recovering from substance use is accepting that many of your old friends and acquaintances may not fit quite as well into your new life of sobriety. In fact, continuing to spend time with the people you hung out with while using can be risky to the success of your recovery.  Using drugs and alcohol doesn’t make them unworthy of your friendship, but it does mean you should take a break from seeing them for a little while to diminish your chance of relapse. The question then remains of how to find healthy people to spend time with while you recover. You want to pick folks that have similar life experiences and that have positive habits to emulate.  For family and loved ones, 

Attend Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous Meetings

Especially when you’re first getting clean, AA and NA meetings are a great place to meet new people who will understand where you’re coming from. The folks at AA meetings come from all walks of life.  It’s a place where everyone comes together to share their own experiences with alcohol and drug recovery.

At the very least, you’ll be able to share your story with a group of people who will listen and give you feedback on how to handle the ups and downs of recovery. In addition to getting relevant advice, having a regular AA meeting to attend will provide you with a greater level of accountability.

Getting a mentor isn’t mandatory for attending meetings, but it is encouraged. An AA mentor is someone who will always be available to talk when you’re feeling overwhelmed and need advice. Some mentors make themselves available 24 hours a day.  If you live in the Phoenix, AZ area, our 10 Week Intensive Outpatient Program is another excellent place to seek support and let your voice be heard.

Join A Sports Team

The healthiest relationships start with healthy habits. Joining a club sport can be a great way to make new friends in a healthy environment. Playing games is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety about meeting people. It’s the perfect icebreaker. Cooperative play signals to the primitive part of your brain that the new people around you are safe and trustworthy. You become more open to being vulnerable as you work together to accomplish a common goal.

Especially during the early phases of recovery, you may tend to feel foggy-headed and not your typical self. Exercise releases natural endorphins that act on opioid receptors to lower inhibition and make you feel good. This improves short-term memory recall, your ability to learn new skills, and promotes overall mental health.

Not everyone is the athletic type, but don’t let that stop you from getting out there and making new friends. Book clubs, chess clubs, and entrepreneurial clubs. Picking something that you already enjoy allows you to bond with people with common interests.  As long as it’s a safe place that doesn’t center around drinking alcohol or using drugs, it’s an option.

Volunteer With An Organization You Care About

Nothing raises self-esteem like donating your time and giving back. The key is to pick a group that will give back to you in the form of new friends and connections. Volunteer somewhere that’s hands-on and offers you the opportunity to interact with a lot of other volunteers. Find an organization with a sense of community that embraces new members as part of the team.

Introduce Yourself To More People

Introducing yourself to people you haven’t met before is intimidating for everyone. Usually, introductions are made between mutual friends, and you don’t have to go through the dance of breaking the ice and pushing through the initial awkwardness that a lot of people feel. The good news is that because cold-approaches like this are hard for everyone, the bar is set pretty low. Humor is the best way to break the ice. The realization that you don’t need a reason to talk to someone can be incredibly freeing. No matter what, you get the consolation prize of putting yourself out there, and that can be a huge confidence booster. Try saying “hi” to two or three people a day and go from there. It’s a habit that will continue to reward you throughout life.

Feeling Brave? Try A Dance Class

For the bold amongst you, a great place to meet new people is dance class.  The healing power of music on mental health is well-documented, and coordinated movement in a group builds trust and breaks the ice. On top of that, anyone who’s brave enough to hit the dance floor for the first time and express themselves gets immediate respect. Dancers are a loving bunch, and there are plenty of beginner-level adult classes in and around major cities.



Be fearless and put yourself out there. Your success in recovery depends on it. Not making new connections will inevitably lead to you feeling like you’re missing out on what your old friends are doing, which is using drugs and alcohol. Be vulnerable, introduce yourself to new friendly faces, and seize the day. Contact Stonewall Institute Treatment Center by phone at 602-535-6468 or by email at for further advice on addiction recovery.