Completing addiction treatment is a major turning point in your life—it provided you with valuable coping skills to identify triggers and handle cravings that will serve you well in recovery. Once you leave the treatment center, it’s important to set yourself up for long-term success in recovery, and that may involve building a new social network after treatment.

While defining a new social group may feel like a daunting task, having a strong support system made up of like-minded individuals will help you stick to your recovery efforts and reduce the risk of a relapse.1 In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of developing a new social network after treatment and provide some helpful tips.

Step Away From Unhealthy Relationships

People change over time–it’s a normal part of life. Not all relationships are destined to last forever. It’s easy to reminisce about the good times you may have spent with friends who are still drinking or using. However, trying to keep these old relationships alive isn’t in the best interest of your recovery.2 These friends aren’t likely to support your new, sober life. In fact, they may even try to sabotage your recovery efforts.

In these cases, it’s best to take an honest approach, letting your old friends know that you’re working hard on your recovery and that you need to surround yourself with people who support your sobriety. Once you lay out your expectations, your former friends can decide for themselves whether they can comply. These relationships will either fizzle out naturally or take a new, more positive direction.

Build a New Social Network After Treatment

Distancing yourself from old friends you drank or used with can result in some feelings of isolation. Fortunately, this is usually short-lived. Recovery gives you the opportunity to start fresh and develop a new social network after treatment—the trick is to figure out how to build that network.

You may form some good friendships with people you met in your 12-step program or support group, but there are plenty of other places to meet new friends. Try volunteering for a cause or issue you’re passionate about. When you spend time working with others, it’s easier to get to know new people and allow friendships to blossom.

Repair Damaged Relationships

Not only will you need to build a new social network after treatment, but there’s a good chance you’ll need to repair some done to existing relationships. This process will take time. Friends and family may want to see how you’ve changed, and rebuilding trust also takes time. While time and patience will help you mend some fences, other relationships may be beyond repair. Always keep the other person’s feelings in mind when you attempt to heal a relationship. Not all will welcome a rekindled connection, and making amends isn’t constructive if you’re going to cause pain to that person.

Beginning a new life in recovery doesn’t have to be an isolating experience. You’re likely to find yourself cutting off some old friendships that aren’t in your best interests, but you’ll also have the opportunity to build a positive new social network after treatment. You have a bright future ahead of you in recovery, and rewarding new relationships are an important part of it.