While the summer season is a great time to see friends and family, these social occasions could create stressful environments that challenge your sobriety. Therefore, just the thought of attending social events is enough to create feelings of anxiety and panic. If you are worried about attending family occasions, you might feel the urge to separate yourself and turn toward isolation. While it is okay to pass on a social event that you might not be ready for, recovery is all about rebuilding your network and finding enjoyment with the people you keep in this network. If you start to defer to isolation, this could soon become a habit and negatively impact your overall recovery. Let’s explore ways you can prepare for social settings and enjoy time with the ones you love.
Call on a Trusted Friend
Sometimes calling on a friend for help is the best way to exercise accountability in a social setting where you know there will be substances. Having a person at the event to look out for you not only brings comfort but helps you overcome triggering situations. Start by making a plan with this friend before attending. A solid plan should include informing this person not to allow you to drink or use substances no matter what.
Your plan should also incorporate transportation options, frequent check-ins during the social event, and even an exit plan. When you have a friend who is looking out for you, you feel accountable to each other. Whether it is a family member, friend, or peer from a meeting or group, the person you choose is up to you, so long as you know that you can trust them. Having help will bring a better sense of confidence and comfort when you are around people that might trigger you to want to use.
Honesty Up Front
Sometimes in recovery, it can be challenging to express to others that you are now sober. Such apprehension could stem from fear of the questions that might come after you tell someone you are sober – especially if you have not seen this person in a while. Showing this much vulnerability to someone can make for a stressful interaction. Further, when someone offers you a drink, and you tell them you don’t drink, you might feel as though a spotlight has come upon you, and this too can feel very intimidating. Remember, you don’t need to divulge any details about your substance use or your past that you don’t deem relevant to the situation. Sometimes simply saying “I don’t drink.” is enough of a reason to stop people from offering.
Remember, try not to overcomplicate things by looking for reasons. Sometimes looking for the right reason could send mixed signals and cause people to keep persisting. However, you don’t need an explanation. Any friend or family that is worth your trust and time should not care that you are drinking. If you encounter someone persistent despite your attempts to say no, remain friendly, politely decline and call on your friend to help you move away from this person.
Remove Yourself From the Situation
If you find it hard to turn down a drink, then this is an indication that you need to find your friend and leave the event. Understand that you are ultimately responsible for your sobriety. While this thought could provoke feelings of fear and doubt, it should also remind you that you have control over is the choices you make, and this thought is very empowering.
Sometimes stepping away from a triggering situation for even a few minutes during a party to do some breathing exercises is a great way to reorient yourself and bring your recovery back into focus. These few minutes could be the difference between saying no, or making a decision you will later regret. You might also decide that driving yourself is the best option. Driving yourself creates a sense of empowerment and accountability because you know that you can leave at any point and that you need to stay sober to get yourself home.
Mindfulness and Meditation
When you practice mindfulness and meditation, you will prepare yourself to understand the thoughts, situations, and emotions that trigger you. Practicing these techniques will help build confidence, resiliency and help you understand how you can respond in a challenging situation. For example, if you anticipate that a social occasion will trigger your urge to want a drink, then set goals for the party that stem from what you know about yourself concerning your past substance use. You can start by setting a goal to go for an hour; if after an hour you feel like you can stay, then stay another half hour. If not, then leave.
Remember, there is no better defense against using substances than when you put your recovery first. When you put your recovery first, you begin to eliminate a lot of doubt and speculation. Alternatively, you deserve to be among friends, family, and peers that support you and who you are today. If you find it difficult to attend social settings and are instead seeking isolation, it is time to seek professional help. At Choice House, we work with men of all backgrounds and experiences to ensure that we meet each individual’s needs because we believe that recovery is not one-size-fits-all. We also work with you to establish the tools needed to rebuild trust in yourself and others so that you can become a part of a network that helps you reach your best success. With the mountainous landscapes of Colorado all around, you will never be short of inspiration. So come and adventure into your life of sobriety today and call Choice House today at (720) 577-4422.