When Is It Ok To Be Around Friends And Family That Are Drinking Responsibly?

After leaving the relatively safe confines of a rehab facility, addiction recovery patients will eventually have to confront two realities. The first being that alcohol consumption is a socially acceptable habit that many individuals in society can imbibe responsibly, and the second being that it may be near impossible to altogether avoid the influence of this socially accepted habit of alcohol consumption in everyday life. Addiction recovery patients will need to make a personal determination on when or even possibly if they feel comfortable around friends and family who are consuming alcohol. 


This is of course not an easy determination, and there is no definitive answer that can be applied to the addiction recovery process as a whole. Although we would recommend that individuals in early recovery be especially cautious in any scenario involving social drinking, each individual should gauge their comfort levels on a case-by-case scenario and be willing to adjust accordingly. This means being able to exit or leave at a moment’s notice if a potential may occur, no matter the scenario. Explanations can follow later, but the immediate concern for any addiction recovery patient should be maintaining sobriety.


With that disclaimer out of the way, here are a few tips to help you decide on whether you are ready to be around responsibly drinking friends and family: 


  • Identify Potential Trigger

Being self-aware of your addictive disorder and identifying potential triggers is essential to operating in society in general, but it is even more important when it comes to placing yourself in scenarios that may involve the consumption of alcohol. This does not mean that you will be able to map out every potential landmine to your continued sobriety, but you can get a good idea of your comfort level by making a list of any potential triggers. For example, if you previously drank socially at bars, then you will want to avoid that form of socialization and possibly substitute it for having dinner with friends. A good rule of thumb for such a list is that if you feel any discomfort or doubt surrounding a scenario, then you should probably avoid it, especially in early recovery. Down the line when you feel more stable in your sobriety, you may be better able to test out questionable situations, but even then, you should be cautious. Addictive disorders are cunning, baffling, and powerful and tend to sneak up on you when you least expect it. However, an increased self-awareness of potential triggers is an especially effective tool for sobriety maintenance. 


  • Avoid Scenarios Where Drinking Is the Social Event

Addiction recovery patients should avoid any event where drinking alcohol is the sole purpose behind meeting up to socialize. That means avoid late-night bar gatherings which can be particularly difficult for younger generations. If alcohol consumption is present at a social event, it should be ancillary to the actual event of socialization. Attending concerts, a backyard barbeque, or having dinner at a restaurant are prime examples of keeping the main focus as socialization. Shifting the focus away from drinking alcohol can be extremely helpful when attempting to avoid any potentially triggering scenarios while socializing.  


  • Be Honest With Others About Sobriety

Being honest with those in your social circle about your newfound sobriety is helpful for others and yourself. This does not mean you should announce to everyone that you are sober, but it does mean being outwardly honest about your newfound sobriety. Hiding or even lies of omission can trigger addictive behavior patterns that lead to eventual relapse. You should be okay if someone offers you a drink at a social event — especially if you have deemed it safe by your standards — but you should also be able to honestly reply that you are sober. If you naturally feel uncomfortable in this supposed social scenario, then you probably are not ready to be around responsible drinking in this particular social event. 


  • Bring a Sober Buddy

A good way to test out the waters of your newfound sobriety is to have a sober buddy at any event that may involve drinking. This would involve asking someone to come to a social event with you who agrees to not drink alcohol. They can act as a safety net for you if at any moment you feel uncomfortable or triggered. Safety in sober numbers is effective when attempting to socialize in questionable situations that may involve alcohol consumption. 


  • Plan Ahead for Unexpected Contingencies

This tip is rather simple, but it is best to plan ahead to have an immediate course of action in case you feel triggered. Planning for the unexpected mainly involves having an appropriate exit strategy like a ride or some form of transportation in case you need to leave abruptly. In an ideal scenario, you should drive yourself to any form of social event. If you drive with someone else, make sure you can get home by either walking, getting an Uber/taxi, or taking public transportation just in case they decide not to leave when you are ready to leave. You should try not to rely on others for your exit strategy as even the most reliable friend or family member can act as a deterrent to leaving.


  • Check-In with Yourself Before, During, and After Social Event

This final tip is the most important in maintaining self-awareness regarding your comfort levels around potential triggers during a social event. Ask yourself if you still feel comfortable in your sobriety in these social scenarios or if this form of responsible drinking bothers you at all. Checking in before, during, and after any social scenario will improve your chances of avoiding relapse and maintaining a sober social life.


If you or someone you love is seeking treatment for an addictive disorder with co-occurring mental health issues, then Choice House is here to help. We offer men the chance to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety through a variety of therapeutic modalities as they begin to build a new foundation of love, understanding, and empathy. We offer men dual-diagnosis treatment for addictive disorders through 90-day inpatient services, an intensive outpatient program, and the opportunity to take up residency at our sober living campus. Our facilities are ideally located in the Boulder County area of Colorado between the Rocky Mountain National Park and the bustling city of Louisville. We take full advantage of having the Rocky Mountains in our backyard by offering a unique outdoor wilderness therapy modality that allows men to reconnect with themselves, nature, and fellow addiction recovery patients through physical activities like rock climbing, hiking, and kayaking. We strongly believe that the relationships formed at our treatment facilities will prove vital to recovery efforts long after patients have returned to their independent, sober lifestyles. The proximity to Louisville also proves beneficial to outpatient services and those residing at our sober living campus by allowing them to maintain employment and social lives while still under the guidance of Choice House programs of service. For more information regarding Choice House facilities and addiction treatment services, please give us a call at (720) 577-4422.

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