I feel that sometimes the fellowship in recovery doesn’t get the credit it is due. Sometimes you go meetings and you will hear someone say that fellowship will not keep you sober and that the fellowship and the program are two very different things. I even heard someone say in a meeting that they didn’t come to AA to make friends, but to save their life.
While I do understand and appreciate the sentiment, I believe that the fellowship you create in recovery and the friends you make is one of the most important aspects of staying sober. I also heard stick with the winners and I have to say that for me this has made a huge difference. If for no other reason then because I know that I could never stay sober on my own in the past and only after I truly threw myself into the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous did my recovery begin to take hold.
Human beings are social creatures. We need other people in order to feel some sort of fulfillment in our lives because we are not meant to live in isolation. I personally believe that in order to experience the most out of life we need to have people with whom we can share our triumphs and losses and people who will stick with us through all of the tough times that life has to offer. Without other people, victory isn’t as great and defeat is all the more bitter.
Our friends also help to define us in a way. To a certain extent we are whom we surround ourselves with, because they are a reflection of where our mindset currently is. If you hang out with very negative people then you more than likely you have a negative mindset and the opposite is true as well. So following this line of thought it is easy to see why the friends that you have in sobriety can either make or break your recovery.
You can see this a lot with people who are new to the program, especially in areas where there are a lot of treatment centers. The people who buddy up that are not particularly serious about recovery usually do not stick around, but the ones who find other friends who are serious about their recovery usually stay sober. This latter group also usually makes friends with people who have been sober for a while because they understand that in order to stay sober they must be surrounded by people who are serious about the program.
Having friends who are attempting to live a sober life was immensely important to me when I was first getting sober because it helped to reinforce the new ideas that I was learning. I remember my friends and I would sit around after meetings and discuss what the speaker talked about and we’d discuss the Big Book and God. All of these things were foreign in my life before I got sober, but once I entered into recovery and met people, who like me wanted a new way of life, this became a daily occurrence.
The longer that I have stayed sober it has become more apparent how important having good friends is to my recovery. I have recently been going through a rather rough time in my life and there are some days when my friends carry me. In fact, I am not sure that I would be able to handle everything that I am going through without the help of my friends.
They are there to listen to me and support me. They let me cry and be vulnerable, and I know that no matter what happens I do not have to go it alone. This is one of the most important things about the friendships that I have today— I know that no matter what goes on in my life I will have people there to support me.
When I was in my active alcoholism I didn’t really have this. I mean I had my family, but they couldn’t really be there for me like my friends in recovery have been. The friends that I have made can relate to the things I think and feel and they know the strange mental twists that make up my thought process. Having their input in my life during tough times has been invaluable because they can often see what I cannot and help me redirect my thoughts.
Besides the emotional support that my friends offer me, having a group of people to hang out with has made my life all the more enjoyable. This may go without saying, but one of the things that I really enjoyed when I first got sober was the fact that I finally had a social life again. Towards the end of my drinking, no one wanted to be around me and I wasn’t really invited anywhere. I very rarely had extra money to do anything and even if I did I couldn’t really go places because alcohol ruled my life. Going out and doing things in sobriety was especially important during those early days and it showed me that I could have life sober and in fact have a better life sober.
So while it is important to work the Steps in order to maintain sobriety, I believe that it is equally as important to develop relationships with good people who are also trying to do this deal. Without my friends, my sobriety would not be as fun and more than likely it would have been a lot more difficult to get sober. I am very grateful for the people that have been put into my life over this past couple of years and I cherish our friendships about almost everything else in life.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.