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Tips for Navigating Social Events While in Recovery From Alcoholism

Recovering from alcoholism is a life-long journey — one with a variety of challenges along the way. One particularly difficult aspect of life after alcoholism is navigating social situations while abstaining from drinking.

Many adult social occasions center around alcohol. You might order a glass of wine or beer when you dine out with a friend. You may go out for drinks to celebrate life events like birthdays, promotions or engagements. For non-alcoholics, it’s no big deal, but for recovering alcoholics, social drinking can cause feelings of exclusion and anxiety, as well as a risk of relapse.

So, how can you navigate social situations without compromising your recovery?

Avoid social drinking in early recovery

While you can’t be expected to live under a rock the rest of your life, early recovery is a trying time. Temptation is everywhere, and it’s hard to resist in those early months. It is possible negative influences may still be present in your life, such as old drinking buddies or your favorite bars. Reverting to old habits and groups of people can make it easier to relapse since they can trigger emotions or situations that drove you to alcoholism in the first place.

To avoid this cycle, it may be best in your early recovery to avoid social drinking situations altogether. Instead, take time to invest in yourself and close relationships that support your recovery. Find new hobbies and places to go with friends that won’t cause temptation to drink.

If you do have an occasion where your attendance is required, be sure to mentally prepare ahead of time. Have a few people to support you during the event and leave if things get too overwhelming.

Rebuilding a life of sobriety

As a recovering alcoholic, it is important to build a life you love around your sobriety. Old habits, friends, hangouts and pastimes may not support your sobriety, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live a full life.

Build a strong group of supportive friends and family members who won’t pressure you to drink or put you in uncomfortable situations. If you don’t have these people in your life, recovery organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous can provide friendship and support throughout your recovery.

You should also seek out healthy, constructive social activities. These can replace old habits of going out to bars and clubs for fun. Instead, go for a hike, take a workout class or try hosting your own alcohol-free house parties.

No matter the situation, remember to be your own advocate. Don’t put yourself in compromising situations if you can avoid it. Your recovery should always be a top priority, and you should never have to apologize for that.

Social occasions for long-term recovery

As you move through your recovery journey, it may become easier to be in social situations that involve drinking. The most important thing? Do what makes you feel best. If socialization is something you need to feel happy and fulfilled, you must learn to navigate social events as a recovering alcoholic.

If you are attending an event, here are a few tips to help you navigate the situation with confidence.

  1. Practice declining alcohol. This may seem simple, but saying no can be more difficult than you would think. If you do not want to share that you are in recovery, think of a reason for not drinking ahead of time.
  2. Bring a sober friend. When everyone around you is drinking, it can be difficult to resist. Have a supportive friend accompany you and agree that neither of you will drink.
  3. Leave early. If everyone is drinking heavily, you should leave before things get out of hand. Being surrounded by intoxicated people can be a negative experience for a recovering alcoholic.
  4. Always have a non-alcoholic drink in hand. If everyone around you is drinking, it can feel awkward if you’re the only one who isn’t. Keep a non-alcoholic drink in hand and no one will even notice you aren’t drinking.
  5. Surround yourself with people who support you. Your close friends are probably aware of your journey. Surround yourself with people who support your goals.

INTEGRIS is committed to supporting Oklahomans struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. If you or a loved one suffers from mental illness, drug addiction or alcoholism, hope is on the horizon. INTEGRIS Arcadia Trails Center for Addiction Recovery is scheduled to open in early 2019. Learn more about what you can do to help.

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