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How Can I Maintain Sobriety Around Non-Sober Friends and Peers?

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Regardless of one’s decision to pursue ongoing sobriety, individuals cannot force others to follow in their recovery footsteps. Friends, coworkers, peers, or even family members may still engage with addictive substances, even while one is pursuing a purely sober future. Maintaining one’s sobriety and focus is crucial, even when surrounded by others who may not share their goals, and learning to prioritize health in these situations is paramount. Each individual can further their sober objectives in various ways, even if friends, family, or peers have not necessarily made the same commitment.

Be Open About Your Goals

Friends, family, and other supports should be able to understand and empathize with one’s sober goals, even if they are not making the same commitment to sobriety themselves. Being open about expectations and plans can be beneficial in facilitating an honest conversation. Making open requests that drugs or alcohol are not involved with any activities and expressing a desire to even keep their discussion out of the picture can help each person set expectations appropriately.

Avoid Certain Spaces or Times

Stress can take many forms, and it is important to mitigate pressures, urges, and cravings whenever possible. While they may not be completely avoidable, being mindful about how one engages with friends and peers in their sobriety can impact their battles with these cravings.

While avoiding places like bars, clubs, or other high-risk settings is crucial for preventing relapse, it is just as important to know where and when an individual is engaging with friends and peers and in what capacity. Going out to areas where one used to use drugs, or engaging in things that may have once been tied to their use can all be unnecessary stresses in an individual’s day. 

Likewise, suppose one used to engage with drugs or alcohol regularly around a particular time of day, such as after work, evening, or first thing in the morning. In that case, they may want to focus on their coping strategies rather than engage with friends or peers. This can help ensure that their focus is entirely on their health and sobriety during these more trying, fragile times.

Keep Non-Alcoholic Drinks in Hand

Learning to say “no” is a powerful recovery skill and requires practice. Turning down offers to engage with addictive substances is a trying task. Keeping a virgin drink in hand during social events can help quell offerings before they happen. This way, an individual does not have to shut down potential requests to partake and allows them to navigate the gathering soberly.

While attending events where drugs or alcohol may be present is already a risky endeavor where one should be wholly prepared, this strategy can also be helpful in circumstances where one was not expecting alcohol or drugs to be present. Attending a holiday party where one is not the host or even going to a baseball game and having someone nearby order a beer can be difficult to process. Keeping a non-alcoholic drink in hand can help dull some of these urges and cravings while maintaining sobriety.

Keep Supports Ready

Having supports prepared to enact an escape plan or otherwise be ready to support, talk to, or help an individual is paramount. Friends and peers don’t necessarily have to be engaging with addictive substances to provoke difficult emotions and circumstances. Sometimes, talking about their use, romanticizing memories that involved their use, or simple iconography or advertisements of alcohol can bring about uncomfortable feelings. 

Having a dedicated support group by the phone can help individuals prioritize their health constantly and allow those navigating sobriety to feel heard and understood. This strategy also allows an individual to remove themselves from these social events if there are signs that there may be unnecessary, complex stresses to process.

Regularly Remind Yourself of Your Reason for Sobriety

Reminding oneself of why they chose to pursue sobriety in the first place is a powerful tool. Keeping a journal of the reasons for pursuing sobriety, a written mantra close by, or other reminders of the dedication to their sobriety can ensure that one’s efforts are not compromised even when spending time with friends or peers who do not share in their sober goals.

Evaluate Social Groups

While unfortunate, there may be some family memberscoworkers, or social groups who don’t adopt a sober policy or compromise and may serve as an active detriment to one’s continued sobriety. Maintaining sobriety even when friends and peers aren’t may mean excusing oneself from these relationships altogether to prioritize sobriety. While distancing oneself from these relationships can be difficult, utilizing group therapy and other sober-focused social recovery settings can help individuals build a new network of peers in sobriety who share these fundamental, uncompromising goals. 

Maintaining your sobriety is already a difficult task, and it can be made more difficult if friends, family, or peers do not share the same sober goals and priorities. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, we understand the trying, complex web of stresses involved throughout recovery and the various influences that can challenge hard-earned sobriety. Whether you are just taking your first step into detox, attending one of our residential inpatient programs, or continuing to develop your life while attending outpatient care, building resilience and prioritizing your sobriety even over peers is crucial. Your time with use can be personalized to fit your needs and goals, directly addressing the unique stressors of your life while building practical, impactful strategies. To learn more about how we can help you take the next step on your recovery journey, call us today at (949) 426-7962.

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