One of the hardest things for people in recovery to learn to deal with is how to go out in the world where other people are drinking. It’s pretty much impossible to avoid being around alcohol at some point or another when living in a city. Most restaurants serve alcohol, every sporting event is filled with beer and even some movie theaters are serving booze now! You can’t even turn on the TV without seeing a commercial for alcohol or drive down the road and see a billboard. As much as we hate to admit it alcohol is part of everyday culture in our world and if we want to maintain our sobriety we need to learn how to manage being around it! It’s one of the huge benefits I see in living in a sober living home like ours, Atlas Recovery sober living.
I’d like to start off and say that in early sobriety it’s probably best to avoid being out in the world around alcohol at any cost. Avoiding restaurants that serve alcohol and any social events would be wise as early recovery is hard enough and you don’t need to put yourself in any precarious situations. Certainly being around any drugs is a really bad move. I don’t socialize with anyone that uses drugs and it would trigger me at six years of sobriety if I were around anyone using drugs. I live in Santa Monica on the beach and I smell marijuana outside every day but that is an entirely different blog post all together.
I was about 30 days sober when I went to a large Holiday part in Hollywood where everyone was drinking. I remember how awkward I felt. I didn’t have a desire to drink alcohol necessarily because I wanted to be sober and work on my recovery but I felt like a fish out of water. I didn’t know how to talk in social circles without having a drink in my hand so I started drinking sparkling water. I probably had 10 sparkling waters because I was drinking them like I would have drunk a cocktail. I remember coming up to the bar tender asking them for another sparkling water and I could tell the bar tender knew how much I was struggling. At this party I learned 2 things – 1) I was in way to early of recovery to be around that much alcohol and 2) sparkling water makes a damn good “mock” tail!
A few months later around my 6-month marker of sobriety I got asked to go to Las Vegas with a large group of people. Las Vegas is one of my favorite places to hang out for a weekend! I love the energy, the excitement and the PARTYING! Although I was at 6 months of sobriety I knew that Las Vegas wasn’t in the cards for me that year. I decided to stay home and miss out on all the “fun”. Now I’m sure to some extent I really did miss out on some good times but truth be told I would of put my recovery in jeopardy if I went then. I’m not sure what would of happened but I felt like that decision was a turning point in my long term recovery because I was committed to making the difficult decisions that were required in order for me to obtain sobriety.
Now that I have stabilized in my recovery and feel comfortable with myself I can go out from time to time with people that are drinking without feeling triggered. I’ve actually been to Las Vegas now a couple of times (with people in recovery) and had a blast without putting myself in dangerous situations.
I usually tend to either drive myself when going out or have access to an Uber / LYFT or any other mode of transportation in the event that I needed to get out of that situation quickly. Being stuck in a situation that makes you feel like your recovery is in jeopardy is a bad idea so it’s best to have a quick way to get out. Sometimes things come up unexpectedly and you might need to act!
Typically I’m fine when I’m at a holiday party or baseball game etc. around people drinking. I don’t have any desire to drink and it truly doesn’t bother me. However once people actually start getting drunk that’s usually time for me to leave. I don’t have much to contribute to the social atmosphere and with respect to maintain my sobriety that is when I typically exit the situation. Often times its best to be around some other sober people at these social situations to help as the support is always needed but just being aware of the surroundings is very important.
Again nobody should be around any alcohol in any setting that makes them feel uncomfortable especially those in early sobriety however as time goes on I find having a plan around this is more practical that hiding out forever. My biggest advice would just to be sense how you are feeling and making sure that you have support and an exit strategy if things get to be too much. There is no shame with saying that you are uncomfortable and need to leave. Being in recovery doesn’t mean that you cant have fun it just means that you need to be smart about it!
This post comes to us from Atlas Recovery (www.Atlas-Recovery.org), a structured sober living in Los Angeles, California.
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