One huge misconception is that if you are sober, you cannot go out to bars, clubs, concerts, music festivals etc where there will be drinking. Well… MYTH BUSTED. That is not the case at all. However, getting used to going out without drugs or alcohol can be a challenge in early sobriety and takes some getting used to.
Early Sobriety and Your Social Life
One of the most difficult aspects of early recovery is managing sobriety in social situations. These environments can be triggers for a number of reasons. Many social situations involve alcohol or drugs, which can be difficult for those in recovery. While many want to return to a normal life and attend the events they used to, maintaining sobriety in a situation where many are not sober can be difficult and uncomfortable. Cravings and temptation can be difficult to manage, and many put themselves at risk of relapse.
It Get’s Easier
Those who are more established in their sobriety may find it easier to cope with social environments in which alcohol or drugs are present. There are numerous ways people may put fail-safes in place to prevent relapse. While it may seem like the best solution is to avoid all situations that could potentially involve alcohol, this is not always plausible or realistic.
How to Stay Sober in Social Situations
If someone has been sober for a while, there is no doubt that some social even will come up, like a weddings or work event, that may require your attendance. In these situations, there are ways to reduce stress and minimize challenges.
- Bring a sober friend: A sober friend can be someone who is firmly established in their recovery, or someone who volunteers to abstain from drinking in support of you. In some cases, you may have a sponsor who can accompany you to an event. Having a sober friend with you can help remove you from tempting situations and serve as a barrier in case you find yourself in a challenging situation.
- Practice saying “no”: Sometimes the best way to prepare for an event is to plan how you will respond to situations. While it may seem unnecessary, practicing ahead of time may make it easier to handle the situation when it actually happens. You can even prepare reasons to say “no” ahead of time. You may be honest and say you do not drink alcohol, or you can tell a white lie and say you cannot drink for a reason such as a job interview or another upcoming responsibility. You are not obligated to divulge details or give elaborate responses, so you can simply say “no” and offer no more information.
- Attend a meeting in preparation: Some people may choose to attend a meeting prior to or right after going to an event. This can serve to reaffirm your sobriety and bolster your confidence. This can give you a way out of a situation that may be difficult and help you remember your progress and success.
- Leave early: At most events, as the night goes on, people tend to get more inebriated. You can leave an event early to avoid those situations. Those times tend to be the least fun and most stressful for those in recovery.
If at any point you feel your sobriety is being threatened, it is important to leave the event immediately. It’s helpful to reach out for support as well, whether this is a sponsor, a meeting, a counseling session, or by talking to close friends or family.
Supporting Sober Friends
There are ways to make events more inclusive for those who are managing sobriety. Some ways to address their needs and help sober friends include:
- Serving non-alcoholic drinks: Offer an assortment of non-alcoholic beverages for them to have. This does not mean your event cannot have alcohol, but offering tasty drinks and fun games that do not revolve around alcohol will make them more comfortable.
- Plan events that do not involve alcohol: You can have fun without alcohol, and there are plenty of activities to choose from. Going to the movies, a theme park, a concert, or exploring a new hiking trail can bring people together without getting intoxicated.
- Attend venues without alcohol: Try setting up dates or plans at venues such as coffee shops. There are plenty of places you can enjoy someone’s company that do not have alcohol readily available. This can help support better conversation and connections between people.
- Talk about it: If a friend is getting sober, ask how you can support them. It’s important to understand people’s limits, comfort zones, and needs throughout the process. This can help avoid any resentment that could potentially evolve over time if not discussed.
Sober friends can help you branch out and explore new things you may not have tried. Just because their choices are different than yours does not mean your friendship cannot continue. Not drinking can drastically change your social life, and while that can be scary or intimidating, these changes are necessary in order to be successful in sobriety.
Sober College in California provides premiere addiction treatment programs to young adults ages 18-26. Our programs are progressive and designed to help young adults achieve long-term sobriety and healthy living.
Have questions about staying sober for yourself or a loved one?
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