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Are You Resolved to Build Your Recovery Support System in 2018? Here’s How

group of people supporting each other in recovery

Making a resolution to get to know more people in recovery and forge stronger connections is a great way to improve your ability to stay sober. The more you surround yourself with people who are working to live a positive life, the more likely it is that you too will make positive choices that support sobriety.

But how do you make those connections in a way that is authentic? This resolution depends on the choices of others as well as yourself, which can make it a daunting proposition. The good news is that there are things you can do to make it easier to connect with other people, and one of the simplest is to start a conversation.

Easier said than done?

Here are a handful of conversation starters that make it easy to strike up a conversation with a new acquaintance at a meeting, support group, or other sober venue:

  • Isn’t __________ incredible?” If you are standing next to someone and sharing something really great, comment on it. It could be a view you are looking at, a really great meal, or an experience you just shared like hearing someone speak at a meeting. If there is something positive you have in common with someone else, comment on it to break the ice.
  • “What’s your opinion on __________?” If you just heard a speaker talk about a particular step, and you are standing outside during a break or after the meeting, you could ask the person’s opinion on what you just heard. Not everyone agrees on everything, so it can spark an honest conversation if the person responds by stating an opinion that you do not agree with or have wondered about yourself.
  • “How do you know ___________?” If someone shows up to a meeting with someone you have met before, an easy ice breaker is to ask them how they know that person or ask how the two of them met. It’s the kind of conversation starter that doesn’t stall out because, depending on the answer, it can trigger natural follow-up conversations. For example, if they work together, asking about their job can get all involved sharing about crazy, boring, or funny work experiences.
  • “Hey! I’ve seen you here before (at ________ meeting). You like this meeting?” Or something along those lines can help you to start up a conversation with someone who you have seen around for a while but not talked to yet. Ask them about what other meetings they attend. You might hear about one you didn’t know about before or find out more about one you’ve wanted to try.
  • “Do you know a good place around here to get coffee?” Going out to coffee after a 12-Step meeting is pretty standard, and if you are trying out a new meeting in a new part of town, you may need a little guidance. Or, if you’re looking for a smoothie place instead or want to grab something to eat, you can ask for that instead.


  • Stay positive. First impressions are lasting, and you never know how someone will hear a negative comment even if you were trying to be funny and sarcastic. Choose instead something funny and/or positive when you are first getting to know someone.
  • Be respectful. You do not know someone’s story or current circumstances, and you do not want to accidentally offend with a careless remark that you didn’t mean.
  • Be supportive. In the 12-Step setting, it is common to feel vulnerable, and new people you meet, especially if they shared during the meeting, may feel like they are in a place to open up and continue sharing if you strike up a conversation. You do not have to agree with them, get sucked into drama, or fix their problem. Instead, you can be supportive and just listen.
  • Don’t get too personal. It is a good idea to withhold deeply personal information until you know someone better. While you may share something on topic with the group, when it comes to one-on-one conversations, it is a good idea to be more cautious with personal details and get to know each other slowly.
  • Don’t ignore follow-up opportunities. Did you ask that guy with the green backpack about a good restaurant nearby last time you saw him? Next time you see it, let him know that you went and appreciated the recommendation, or notice something funny about the place that he might have noticed too to keep the conversation going.

Are you resolved to build your support network this year? How do you connect with new people you meet?

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