Engaging in social activities after working through alcohol addiction treatment is a big part of a successful recovery. Healthy relationships support sobriety, but you may need to make some changes in who you choose to spend time with and when and where.
How do you remain sober when your friends enjoy drinking?
In addiction recovery, your primary goal is to focus on avoiding relapse. Any time you are engaging in activities or around people that make you want to drink again is a high-risk situation, one that you should avoid.
Making Decisions About Friendships
As you consider all of your relationships, be honest with yourself about which ones support your recovery and which ones might threaten it. Generally, it’s not recommended to go back to the same activities and lifestyle that encouraged you to drink. You have a new life now, and sometimes people from your past cannot be a part of your future.
That’s a really hard decision to make, but consider which friends are most likely to want you to drink again. Which of your friends are going to stick around even if alcohol isn’t involved? Who will be a positive influence in your life instead of trying to convince you that one drink won’t hurt?
Anyone in your life who cannot or will not respect your decision to live a sober lifestyle is someone you cannot rely on as a close friend. It is difficult to cut people off, but it is also critical to ensuring you have the best chance at a full recovery.
How to Manage Social Activities
Even if you remove people from your life who are not supportive, you’ll come across times when your friends are enjoying a few drinks, and you want to be a part of the group even while not drinking. Should you? Here are some tips for navigating that process.
- Avoid triggers
Avoid any situation that is a trigger to you, such as going back to the bar you spent a lot of time drinking in when you were in active addiction. If you used to spend a lot of your time hanging out at a certain location drinking, avoid that location. Instead, accept invitations to social events in areas that are less triggering for you.
- Talk to your friends
Most importantly, let the people in your life know what they can do to support you. Tell them what you need. Good friends accept your life of sobriety and are happy to support you. Remind people you spend time with that you no longer drink. It’s up to you to decide how much detail you tell them. Be honest and inform these people that you may need to leave a room or the location if you feel uncomfortable.
By being open like this, you alleviate many potentially high-risk experiences. Even if your friends still drink near you, they know not to encourage you.
- Fake it, as needed
There will be times when you need to attend an event where alcohol is served, and you may not feel as though you need to explain yourself to everyone there. In that case, just keep a glass in your hand of something that looks like alcohol just to stop people from giving you drinks.
- Just say no
Today, most people respect others’ wishes about not drinking. If you are at a restaurant or spending time in a group, just state you’re not drinking tonight. You don’t have to provide more details if you don’t want to do so.
Hanging out with friends should be a fun experience and something you look forward to. If you’re worried or anxious, you may not be ready for a particular experience. Give yourself time after you leave recovery to build up your resilience and courage.
Pay close attention to your mental health and thought patterns. If you experience any of the following, take a step back and reach out to your therapist or mentor for a bit of help.
- You’re thinking about having a drink and romanticizing the taste and effects of it.
- You’re longing to be able to drink just like everyone else.
- You feel depression or frustration building because you cannot drink.
Remember, your future and health are much more important than a drink with friends, no matter how overwhelming it can seem. When you’re at risk or feeling unsure, reach out to The Ranch at Dove Tree in Lubbock, TX, to learn more about your options in treatment.