Friendship and sobriety don’t always go hand-in-hand, especially when much of your social life has formerly been centered around drinking. The potential embarrassment of turning down a drink at a party may seem daunting, and the temptation that may go along may seem too great a challenge.
While attending social events as a sober person may be a drastic change to what your comrades are used to, your new lifestyle choices do not have to bring social time with friends to a screeching halt. Through a careful selection of friends, honest conversations and well-planned activities, you will gain the freedom of deeper and more fulfilling friendships.
Remove toxic friends from your life
The first step of having fun with friends is finding those friends to have fun with. When dealing with addiction, it is common to surround ourselves with people who share our affinity for the party lifestyle, or who carry the same burden of substance abuse. While it is natural to gravitate to people with whom we share things in common, is not always conducive to lasting recovery to maintain these friendships.
Although they may not have any kind of malice towards you, we are massively influenced by the people who surround us. Instead of spending time with friends that encourage you to just have one drink, rekindle past relationships that don’t rely on alcohol to socialize— or even better, who encourage you to maintain the commitments you have made to yourself.
It will be hard to say goodbye to friends with whom you share memories, you will one day likely be thankful that you do not bear the social pressure and subsequent anxiety to drink.
Have a difficult conversation
Once you’ve removed the friends from your life that are not invested in helping you live out your new commitment to social sobriety, turn to the friends that have proven their loyalty through their support. Be honest about your needs.
The reality is, learning how to be sober in a controlled environment is very different from learning how to be sober around people. Explain that you simply don’t feel comfortable in the presence of alcohol and you’d prefer to participate in nonalcoholic activities.
While it might feel uncomfortable and embarrassing to have a vulnerable conversation, these important moments will set the tone for how you spend time with your friends in the future. The people you want in your life won’t shy away from your honesty and will ideally serve to deepen your relationships.
Find a replacement activity
Habits are familiar and easy to slide back into. Like a former smoker that still feels the need to have something in their hands to replicate the tactile experience of smoking, look for a way to spend your time that will provide you with a similar experience that is much less dangerous and harmful for your health.
Instead of drinking with friends, get together for coffee at a local acoustic performance or go old-school and find the best milkshake drive-thru in your city or town for a late-night trip that won’t leave you asking what you did last night.
Choose a new community
After paring down your friendships, you might find that you don’t have as great a number of friends to hang out with as you had previously, leaving you with loose ends and open Friday nights. Instead of reverting back to old habits or getting down on yourself for having nothing to do, look for new communities that match your interests, both in-person and online.
If you’re secretly into books, consider taking on a few volunteer hours at your local library, providing you with an opportunity to give back and indulge in the sweetly satisfying scent of musty old library books.
If you play sports, find a sports league that you can join in the evenings. If you’d rather stay at home, explore online forums and social media groups that are particular to an interest of yours and begin conversations with like-minded people. You never know if someone across the world might end up being your biggest cheerleader and supporter during your journey to lasting sobriety.
When the going gets tough, remind yourself of the many reasons why you chose this lifestyle change. While it might be challenging, building friendships and staying sober are definitely possible.
Rehab After Work offers outpatient group therapy for those recovering from substance abuse. We are committed to helping those suffering from addiction and their families, offering hope and a chance at a new life. Call today at (610) 644-6464, or visit us online to see how our supportive counselors can help you achieve your goals and build your new life.