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At Meetings, Don’t Skip the Chit Chat

12 Step meetings offer a lot of different tools for beating addiction–sympathetic ears, inspiring recoveries, cautionary examples, a plan for personal progress, and, of course, coffee. 12 Step meetings are pretty informal affairs to begin with, but the least formal element might be one of the most useful–chatting with others in recovery before and after meetings.

One of the biggest challenges people face coming out of treatment is making new friends. Often, many of their old friends still drink or use drugs and spending time around them can trigger a relapse. Loneliness isn’t good either, but making new friends is challenging for most people. This is where meetings can be a gold mine. The rooms are full of people you see regularly and share a common interest with. They’re a perfect place to find sober friends.

Studies have shown the more sober friends you have, the more likely you are to stay in recovery. People tend to pick up the habits and expectations of their friends, so spending more time around sober people makes sobriety feel more like the socially expected behavior. A recent study found that it doesn’t even seem to matter if you like your sober friends very much. If you are socially engaged at meetings, you are more likely to stay sober.

“Chit chat” isn’t codified in the 12 Steps, but it is generally recognized as an important element. It’s incorporated into the service element of the program, and people with more time sober often make an effort to engage newcomers. This effort to keep people engaged and coming back may, itself, be an important element in recovery.

It’s understandable that some people might not want to be very social early on. It’s hard to come to terms with addiction, with past mistakes, and with the uncertainty that comes with trying to change your life. Despite this ambivalence, it’s important to stay open to the possibility of connection. Few people outside of meetings will understand what you’re going through, and few will be as invested in your recovery. Even if you only connect with the people in your group in this one way and have nothing else in common, you will be more successful in recovery.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com to learn more.