When you make the decision to overcome your addiction, the first hurdle is sobriety. This is a courageous and difficult challenge and one not to be taken lightly. You may spend weeks or months attaining sobriety and finally – when the time comes – you celebrate your victory. But then comes another challenge that you should work to add to your agenda when it comes to staying sober: Being Social.
It probably was not the first thing on your mind when you entered rehab and decided to begin healing but returning to a social life after you have started your journey can prove challenging. Oftentimes, it will feel as if you are learning to walk again with different legs. In some ways, you are.
Maybe before rehab, you were known as the life of the party. Or maybe you needed a drink or shot of something to boost your courage before an event or situation. Maybe your down-time was rewarded with your favorite drink or substance. As these tendencies became habits, you leaned on them more and more until they became essential.
Now that you’re sober, it may feel like you are missing something as you go into these situations. How can you be the life of the party, sober? How can you face fears and insecurity without, first, having a drink? What can you do now, with those “down-time” moments since you’re not drinking anymore?
Thankfully, many former addicts have faced these situations and endured, and you can, too. Many social events – weddings, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, parties – involve substances that you have previously consumed to a point that it was hurting your life and those you love. Naturally, you are sure to encounter these same events as the new sober you, so there are things you should consider and be prepared for, as you continue with your sobriety.
First, honestly evaluate where you are in your journey. Are you the kind of person who must abstain completely, or are you safe to consume moderately and responsibly? It is vital that you consider your history and risks before you answer this question and be completely honest. Maybe your answer will be different months down the road but right now, it’s critical that you are honest with yourself about where you are on the scale.
If you are someone who needs to abstain, be aware (and prepared) by following these tips:
- Avoid places where you know there will be triggers until you are confident you can resist those urges.
- Avoid friends or social groups who are not supportive of your decision to stop drinking.
- If you are obligated to attend risky events, take a sober friend with you.
- Leave the event early. Generally speaking, consumption increases as the night grows darker so make it a plan to leave by a certain time and stick to it.
- Meditate on your reasons for staying sober, before you leave. Likewise, celebrate your continued sobriety when you return.
- Call someone if you need to, to stay in touch with those who support your decision and can help encourage you to stay sober.
Of course, you know your life will change after rehab. Some of these changes will be welcome but others may prove more challenging and you’ll need to be prepared for the difficult or awkward shifts as your life improves.
- Some changes are predictable. Your friends will change and your social circles will become different. As you surround yourself with like-minded, supportive people, previous social connections will begin to fade.
- Some people may feel uncomfortable when you tell them you are a non-drinker. Be aware this discomfort is their issue, not yours.
- You, too, may feel awkward or uncomfortable as you begin doing things differently. Allow yourself time to adjust. Eventually – with each small success – you will become more confident and comfortable in situations where you previously may have felt you needed a drink.
And finally, choose activities that are conducive to your continued sobriety. Think back on the things you discovered about yourself as you built the path for your staying clean. You likely realized fears and dreams you had avoided or given up on.
- What are some of the ways you can face some of your former fears in a constructive way?
- What are some hobbies you can take up that you always wanted to?
- Are there any places you always wanted to go but never made time to go?
- Which books do your sober friends recommend?
- Are there any clubs you could join such as fitness or book clubs?
- Are there any tasks that need to be completed in your life that you now have time to complete?
If you are concerned about your life while sober, be assured that experts can help you not only begin the road to recovery, but continue to give you the help and support you need after rehab. The first step, however, is to reach out and make the choice to change your life. Contact Malibu Hills today and let us help you, help yourself.