Sobriety - Relapse Prevention

Stop Saying “But I’ll Lose EVERYONE”: Being Social AND Sober

Most habits and addictions aren’t just fashioned overnight. It’s a process, a behavior that becomes a pattern, that in turn becomes multi-dimensional.

Stop Saying “But I’ll Lose EVERYONE”: Being Social AND Sober

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

August 18, 2021

The Edge Treatment Center

Most habits and addictions aren’t just fashioned overnight. It’s a process, a behavior that becomes a pattern, a pattern that becomes multi-dimensional. And it bleeds into every aspect of your life–home life, career, and social life.

One of the fears that keep addicts where they are is the fear of a crumbled, nonexistent social life if they truly walk away from using. You realize that, for your group, alcohol was the sun, and your lives, its satellites. That your shared love of the high, wherever it comes from, is quite possibly your only shared love. That the person you are when you’re with them is not REALLY you. It’s the addict you.

Without drugs as the common denominator. . .what’s left? Will they shun you, either outright or with subtle indifference? Will you find each other even tolerable, let alone fun to be around? Or, as is so often the case, will it just be a bad, self-sabotaging idea to even attempt staying in the circle?

Whether it’s a complete dissolution or a restructuring of your social circle, there is life after addiction. Imagine what it could be like. Help someone else imagine what it could be like, and chip away at those fears by arming yourself with some knowledge and plans.

People who shared your addictive behavior and who are still engaging in it are potential triggers for relapse.

Someone with no history of addictive behavior or who will quit/abstain with you is a lot safer for your sobriety than someone who is still engaged in addictive behavior.

You may have considerate friends who abstain when you’re around, but even knowing that they’re still using when you’re not around can cause a slew of unhealthy thoughts and feelings that can put you at risk for relapse.

Maintaining relationships with your old friends who were associated with your addictive behavior, but who aren’t addicts–it can happen, but it takes understanding and commitment.

Help your friends and family understand your addiction.

For the people you have a true connection with or from whom there’s just no way to separate yourself (family, close work partners, etc), make an effort to educate them about your addiction.

  • Invite them to a meeting, support group, or family therapy session.

  • Give them permission to be honest with you when they are worried about you or feel you’re slipping off the wagon.

  • Tell them what you need/seek/hope for regarding your recovery.

  • Share information about your triggers.

There are some great resources and connections to additional resources at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Change your patterns.

This doesn’t just mean “stop using.” Change ALL your patterns, including your social activities and the way you explore your hobbies. You’ll probably be amazed at all the sober options out there–art classes, wellness activities, sober bars , volunteer opportunities–there are plenty of ways to fill your days and evenings. But also keep in mind that just because you meet someone at yoga doesn’t mean they don’t drink, smoke, or otherwise use. When you’re at your most vulnerable, look for meetups geared specifically toward recovering addicts.

You don’t have to fly under the radar.

While you don’t always have to make your sobriety a topic of conversation going into social situations, it may help you sometimes. When you say aloud, “Thanks, but I don’t drink” or “Kicked the habit,” it becomes even more real to you. What’s more, when you say it to others, you’ll receive (and therefore have to turn down) fewer offers for another drink, a smoke, whatever it is you’ve removed from your life. You can even go to parties and…wait for it…have FUN staying sober.

It can feel isolating, building a life centered around a new way of being. But you’ll get there. You’ll rebuild, and with a stronger foundation than ever. We’ve seen it happen.

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