A major factor in addiction is isolation

When a person is lonely, they often use drugs and alcohol to cope with their loneliness.

When there are other people for them to interact with, they might be less interested in drugs and alcohol.

Although there is plenty of drug and alcohol abuse in social settings, it must be understood that social bonds are a counter to addiction.

A recovering alcoholic greatly increases their chances of lasting sobriety if they form social bonds with people who do not drink to excess and will support them in their quest for sobriety.

One of the best things a former drinker can do to maintain their sobriety is form friendships with people who are not active alcoholics and will understand that the former drinker must abstain from drinking any alcohol.

Sober friends are a major part of what makes a sober life worth living for a former drinker.

Positive social contact with peers increases happiness, decreases anxiety and depression, and decreases the chances for a major relapse.

Family is also particularly important in overcoming addiction

If the recovering alcoholic spends time with family members, they will feel happier, more fulfilled, and be less likely to relapse.

Care should be taken to avoid conflict, if there is any bad blood with a family member, it may be best to keep the former drinker separate from them for a while.

When the time is right, the former drinker can apologize and make amends to such a family member, and if all goes well, relations can continue.

The recovering alcoholic needs to be open and honest about his addiction with his family and talk to them about why it is important to stay sober.

Such discussion will let the family know that the former drinker understands the harm they have done and is willing to take steps to prevent it from happening again.

Getting someone sober after a destructive addiction should be thought of as a group effort and a family effort.

The family must come together to support the recovering alcoholic or addict both for the addict’s sake and the sake of everyone around them.

A helping and loving attitude will go a long way towards making the former drinker feel as though they are being helped to improve themselves, rather than feeling that they are being forced to give up something they enjoy.

Recovering alcoholics are often defensive about their alcohol abuse and letting them know that they are loved and cared about will help defuse this defensiveness.

Throughout the period of active drinking, the former drinker may have caused many of his relationships with other people to become dysfunctional in some way.

There may have been cases where the former drinker was using people or being used, and in order to move forward with their lives, recovering alcoholics must get rid of such toxic relationships with other people and form bonds which are based on both people benefiting each other and supporting each other’s well-being.

It is very important to get rid of or fix toxic bonds because they are a link to the alcoholic lifestyle and represent an amoral way of living that the former drinker is leaving behind.

All friendships in the new sober life must be based on mutual respect, goodwill, and a commitment to supporting the former drinker’s sobriety.

Some of the old friendships from the drinking days will be salvageable because the friends are willing to be supportive of the former drinker’s sobriety and genuinely care about them.

Other friendships should be left behind for now, because the former friend may be encouraging the person to relapse or the two may be using each other without a genuine care for each other’s well-being, or one might be a parasite upon the other.

Any such toxic bonds which cannot be fixed and assimilated into the sober lifestyle must be broken, to protect the former drinker’s recovery. Sobriety is an entire way of life.

Social bonds with heavy drinkers should be avoided in early sobriety, meaning for the first few years at least.

Active drinkers have a way of sucking others into their way of life, therefore recovering alcoholics should do their best to stay away from active alcoholics except in special circumstances.

Humans are very imitative beings, so it is important that the former drinker not see people drink to excess.

Any drinking done around the former drinker, if it cannot be avoided (which would be best) should be moderate and restrained.

Forming social bonds with people who are supportive of their sobriety and forming healthy bonds with their family will go a long way towards changing the former drinker’s mindset and lifestyle.

Overcoming the damage done to social relationships, when entering recovery.

The more connected the recovering alcoholic is with others, the better.

They can spend time alone, of course.

However, if the recovering alcoholic is feeling bad and needs someone to talk to and someone is quickly there, they will feel supported in their sobriety.

The power of supporting someone in their sobriety cannot be overestimated.

A former drinker is much more likely to succeed if someone is working alongside them in their recovery, or even is just there at the times when the former drinker can’t get by on their own.

Having someone to lean on in times of despair or struggle will prevent the former drinker from leaning on alcohol.

If the former drinker attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, it will be enormously helpful.

At AA a recovering alcoholic will be surrounded by other people who went through a similar ordeal of destructive drinking and came out of it sober and successful.

There will be examples to follow and people willing to lend a helping hand.

Since the 12th step in AA treatment programme is to carry the message to other alcoholics, a newly recovering alcoholic will find that they are considered the most important member of any meeting, because they are the most in need of help.

AA is specifically designed to help people who have struggled with alcohol addiction, and the AA programme of moral transformation is backed up by a community of caring people who will help any former drinker who is willing to be open and honest.

AA is a great place for recovering alcoholics to make friends, since they will be in contact with a large group of peers.

AA meetings are a group activity that makes the former drinker feel like they are a member of a community.

It is important that the former drinker attend AA meetings if they are available in the area, and they very likely will be.

The recovery community will be one of the greatest tools a former drinker has at their disposal to ensure their sobriety.

They may be reluctant to attend at first, but because we are social beings, most recovering alcoholics will come to enjoy and look forward to going to AA meetings and sitting and talking with other people going through the exact same journey they are.

AA meetings are helpful, helpful, helpful!

They’re a great place to make sober friends and to form social bonds that can last a lifetime.

The former drinker will begin to see preserving their social bonds within the recovery community as far more important than alcohol could ever be.

When the former drinker has strong social bonds with many people who are supportive of his sobriety, the chances of recovery become much greater.

Family, friends, and a recovery community will all be key parts of the transformation the recovering alcoholic will undergo.

Giving up destructive drinking isn’t just breaking an addiction, it’s a lifestyle change, and the positive social bonds that are formed during recovery are the best defence against the return of addiction.

Getting Help.

Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.

Call our local number 01603 513 091

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.