Business meetings, family gatherings, and holidays tend to be very difficult instances for a person in alcohol addiction recovery. A friend asking you to hang out with friends at a local bar on a Friday night can feel overwhelming.
Can you go? Should you go?
In alcohol addiction recovery, your recovery must always be your priority. There is no leeway here. You cannot have just one drink. The key, then, is learning how to manage social interactions in a way that allows you to remain active and happy without putting yourself at risk. Consider a few strategies for managing these trying situations.
Don’t Hide Your Addiction
While it can be very difficult to share your personal information with some people, your trusted friends will want to know what they can do to support you. They won’t want to put your recovery at risk. If they want to go out to dinner for a friend’s birthday, they won’t encourage to drink. But if you hide your addiction, you’ll create misunderstanding and, potentially, hurt feelings. Your friends won’t understand what’s happening and won’t have the chance to show you how much they care for you.
Spend Time with Like-Minded Individuals
If your friends are not as supportive or respectful as they should be, it’s okay to spend less time with them, especially if you have friends in recovery. The chances of using alcohol are much lower if you spend time with people who are going through the same things you are. When everyone is on the same path, you can support each other and engage in sober activities.
Take Some Support with You
Perhaps one of the most powerful things you can do to control a social situation is to have help. If you must attend a family gathering or other event where people will be drinking, take a friend who supports your recovery and whom you can trust to hold you accountable.
Keep Something in Your Hands
Socializing in an atmosphere where there is alcohol is difficult even for those with years of recovery behind them. One simple thing that can help is holding a non-alcoholic drink in your hand. This gives your hands something to do and, in the same way, prevents you from standing out. A server walking by isn’t likely to ask you if you want a drink if they see you already have one.
Tell People to Refuse to Serve You
Here’s an example. It’s a wedding: you have to be there, yet you are surrounded by people who frustrate you. In this situation, you can approach the bartender, tell them you’re in recovery, and ask them not to give you a drink even if you ask. Of course, it’s not the bartender’s responsibility to keep you sober, but a bit of extra help doesn’t hurt.
Go to a Meeting Before and After
AA or other 12-step programs are very important to staying on the right path. If you know a tense situation with triggers is going to occur, head to an AA meeting or meet with your sponsor in advance of it. Get some extra guidance and tips for staying away from alcohol. Reassure yourself you have what it takes to stay sober.
Know When to Get Help
When you are facing addiction of any type, having the right team by your side is critical even if you have been in recovery for some time. Social events are going to happen. You are going to have to spend time with your family and friends, or complete strangers, in places where alcohol will be present. Your best bet is to prepare yourself and to have confidence in your determination to remain alcohol-free.
Even if something goes wrong, though, there is help available to you. Reach out to your alcohol addiction treatment counselors to get the support you need. It’s an important part of your recovery process.