Recovering from addiction is no easy task. Maintaining sobriety requires significant changes to your lifestyle in order to reduce the risk of relapse. Improving your recovery outcome also involves separating yourself from enabling peers and environments, but if alcohol was your substance of choice, this can be hard to achieve. Many social gatherings involve alcohol and because it is a legal substance, many adults consume alcohol to some degree. Consumption of alcohol is so normalized that many people do not think twice about attending a happy hour or spending time at a bar, but for a person recovering from alcoholism, this can be problematic.
It is not uncommon to experience peer pressure when it comes to alcohol consumption. Even if you are not outright encouraged to drink, being around others who are consuming can be triggering or cause temptation to develop. When you are sober, but your friends are not, it can make it difficult to attend gatherings where alcohol is part of the event. Although your friends may not abstain from alcohol consumption, there are ways you can participate and spend time with loved ones without feeling the pressure to drink.
Ways to Protect Your Sobriety
Just because you are no longer consuming alcohol does not mean you cannot be friends with people who do. In order to protect your sobriety, there are ways you can continue to spend time with loved ones and avoid the temptation to indulge.
- Choose new hangout spots: There are plenty of things you can do and places to visit that do not have alcohol. Attending a social gathering where you are the only one not drinking can make you feel pressured to consume even if someone is not directly encouraging you to. Rather than risking your sobriety or putting yourself in the position of always being a designated driver, finding new places to spend time together can be beneficial. Coffee shops, parks, and some restaurants can be great alternatives to hanging out in bars. They allow you a safe place to spend time with friends and enjoy their company without feeling pressured to drink.
- Have a sober friend with you: If you find yourself in a situation where alcohol is present, it can be tempting to drink so that you do not feel left out. Having a sober friend with you can help you navigate tough conversations and difficult situations. Keep an alcohol-free beverage in your hand to reduce the likelihood of someone offering you a drink. If the conversation moves towards why you are not drinking, you are under no obligation to disclose any information you do not want to share. A sober friend can also help redirect conversation away from those topics and can help remove you from situations if triggers or temptation become too strong.
- Communicate with your friends: While you are not required to disclose your status to others, it can be helpful to communicate your need for support. Your friends should be a support system and not put you in a situation that threatens your sobriety. You may want to express that your need to not be in certain situations may require you to leave gatherings or not attend specific events altogether. A true friend will be understanding and support this without taking it personally.
- Evaluate your friendships: Along the same topic, friends who undermine you and do not support your sobriety may need to be reevaluated. Having support in recovery is important to maintaining sobriety long-term. If friends pressure you to drink or pass judgement on your choices, you may need to reconsider your relationship with them.
- Avoid specific situations: While it may not be ideal, you may need to sit out of some events or gatherings. Part of recovery is identifying your triggers so that you can either avoid them or develop methods of coping that reduce the likelihood of relapse. If attending an event or being in certain situations presents triggers, it is better to opt out. Continue looking for ways to connect and gather with friends in environments that do not center around alcohol consumption.
- Stay engaged in recovery: Because alcohol is a legal substance and a normalized aspect of many social gatherings, you will inevitably find yourself in a situation where alcohol is present. Developing healthy coping mechanisms and continuing to engage with support groups is important to protect your sobriety. Relationships built with other sober people can help you develop new friendships with people who understand and support your recovery. Engaging in meetings can reaffirm and strengthen your sober status while simultaneously helping you reduce the risk of relapse.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 310.403.1032 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.