5 Ways to Support a Newly Sober Friend in AA

When a close friend joins Alcoholics Anonymous (Al-Anon or AA), what should you expect? More importantly, do you know how to support a friend in AA?


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Offering Your Support to a Friend in AA

Here are five ways you can support your newly sober friend’s journey in recovery.

  1. Be Encouraging. Supporting someone in AA should start with encouragement and words of praise. This is a courageous step your friend is taking. They will need to openly share their life story with others and be receptive to Al-Anon’s teachings, principles, and guidance. It’s a lot to take on, so more than anything else, your friend needs encouragement to continue their journey, even if they may stumble at times.
  2. Learn about AA. Supporting someone in AA can be easier if you understand what the program involves. Read over the 12 steps, and you’ll see that AA is really about a spiritual journey. (In AA, the term “God” can also mean a higher power or higher purpose in life). If you are an intimate friend, you may even consider attending an open AA meeting that welcomes family members and friends. This will give you a first-hand experience of what goes on in an AA meeting. There are also other resources about AA you can explore.
  3. Be understanding. Your friend may not be as available to do things with you as before. It takes a lot of time and commitment to work through the 12 steps. Time for prayer, meditation, homework, attending AA meetings, and working with their sponsor. Don’t take it personally if your friend is not as available as they were before. Also, realize that your friend is going through a journey of discovering themselves and developing a new identity as someone who can have a happy life without alcohol. This will likely involve developing mutually supportive friendships with peers in recovery as your friend attends AA meetings.
  4. Be healthy together. Getting out and doing healthy activities together is a wonderful way of supporting someone in AA. Take a walk in the park, go for a bike ride, or try a yoga class together. Volunteering in the community together is a way to share something fulfilling that taps into emotional and spiritual health. In fact, studies show that AA members who spend time helping others in the community experience more successful long-term sobriety.
  5. Avoid triggers. Adjusting your experiences together to avoid alcohol is another ideal way of supporting someone in AA. Remember that your friend in recovery is working to avoid triggers, so don’t think it’s okay to order a margarita while your friend orders a Coke. Even if they says it’s okay to do so, it’s not considerate or helpful to your friend. They will appreciate their time with you more if you support their sobriety by being considerate, not just through words but through your actions, too.


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