Are you feeling anxious and wondering if you can hang out with friends in a social setting while staying sober? If you are new to recovery, you will want to avoid any situation that could be a trigger and put you at risk for relapse. Being well-prepared, having a strong system of support, and making your recovery a priority will allow you to socialize without jeopardizing your sobriety.
There are several tips to follow that can help take the stress off of socializing while you focus on your recovery. These include:
- Surround yourself with sober friends. Make friends with others who understand your journey. You can find sober friends at recovery meetings in your community or among alumni of your treatment center. If the friends you had before treatment still drink or do drugs around you, it will be very difficult for you to be with them without being tempted to relapse. If you find new friends who are also sober or who support your recovery by limiting their substance use when they’re with you, invite them to attend social events with you so they can provide support.
- Find sober activities. There are endless ways to socialize while in recovery. Most activities can be enjoyed without substances. For example, you can still go out to dinner with friends and choose a restaurant that does not serve alcohol, like Cracker Barrel, talk with a friend over coffee and dessert, see a movie, have a game night, or enjoy the outdoors.
- Try something new. Getting out of your comfort zone can energize and inspire you. Consider inviting a friend to participate in an exercise or art class with you. You may find that being sober allows you to enjoy things you may not have enjoyed in the past.
- Be prepared. If you decide to go out to an event where alcohol is being served, know how you will respond if you are offered a drink. Being direct and saying you are sober is one way to handle the situation, or you can simply say you quit drinking and are not interested. You can also order a mocktail to have in hand so that people won’t offer you drinks.
If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation where you are tempted to drink, leave or reach out to your sponsor or a trusted friend. Know that you never have to give in to pressure or feel obligated to consume anything you don’t want to. Socializing should be fun. It is an opportunity to connect with others and enjoy whatever it is you are doing. Always make yourself and your recovery a priority.
Understand You Can Say No
You do not have to attend a social function, holiday gathering, or other events just because your friends invited you. It is okay to say no. If you feel that attending a gathering may not be best for your sobriety and only will add to your stress, don’t go. And don’t feel like you have to have a good excuse. Sometimes it is simpler to just say no, thank you, and leave it at that. If your friends are supportive of your recovery, they will understand – or may even consider doing something else that makes you feel included.
You may notice over time that friends you once had may begin to exclude you from social situations. They may not be supportive of your decision to stay sober and may not be willing to make a change. If this is the case, you might need to reserve your time with them for one-on-one opportunities or let them go to focus on those who support your recovery.
We are Here to Help
If you or a loved one are struggling with a substance use disorder, contact Anabranch Recovery Center in Terre Haute, Indiana, for help. Our skilled team of professionals can guide you to recovery and design a program to meet your individual needs. Take the first step and contact us to find out more about our programs and services.