How Do I Stay Social While Trying to Recover from Alcohol Addiction?
When you have made up your mind to stop drinking, it can be hard to continue being social with friends and family who drink.
The temptation to have a drink can be overwhelming. You may see your friends drinking and think, “They can do it, so why can’t I?”
So how do you control the anxiety you feel about attending social functions where people will be drinking and will expect you to follow suit?
One of the biggest problems that people trying to recover from alcohol addiction face is that they enter social situations unprepared. Before going out with friends or family, picture yourself arriving, ordering a non-alcoholic beverage, eating appetizers and steering clear of the bar. Try to focus on conversations and catching up with your friends instead of your desire to drink. Preparing yourself mentally will help help you feel more comfortable when you are actually there.
If your social circle consists of drinkers, it is wise to have a friend or loved one with you whom you can rely on for support. Another option is to have the phone number of a supportive, sober friend you can call if you feel tempted to drink. Lastly, decide beforehand how long you will stay, as you may want to leave before things get out of hand for others.
Learn to Say 'No'
It can be hard to turn down a drink, especially when at a party. Before putting yourself out there, practice saying "no" to people. This will help you to sound more confident when you turn down a drink from a friend. To show confidence, look at the person directly, speak firmly and try not to leave an opening for further discussion. Alternatively, you can hold a glass of a non-alcoholic beverage such as soda, but remember to keep it full. By using a method such as this, you avoid people asking you to refill your cup or glass.
Steer Clear of Triggers
When you have closely paired an activity with alcohol in the past, this can become a trigger for you. If you know that you have associated certain activities with drinking, it may be hard to avoid drinking in those situations. The best thing to do is to steer clear of them. When you've associated smaller habits such as smoking with drinking, it might be wise to turn down that cigarette when a friend offers you one.
Change Your Role in the Group
Many people find that changing their role from drinking buddy to designated driver can really have a positive effect. This also allows you to stay within your social circle instead of having to leave the group.
For some, however, this may be too much pressure. Before trying to take on this role, think about where you are in your recovery process. Consider whether you are ready to take on the responsibility of helping out your friends, or if you feel safer taking care of only yourself for the moment. Remember that recovery is a slow process and it may take some time before you are ready to rejoin your old social circle.