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How To Stay Sober When Friends Are Drinking

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After returning home after completing an addiction treatment program, you will want to focus on developing healthy relationships that support your recovery. However, you may also find yourself in different social settings where friends drink. So, how do you stay sober when friends are drinking? 

Step 1: Make Important Decisions About Your Friendships

You need to take a good look at your friendships and decide which ones will support your sobriety and which ones could trigger a relapse. It is never in your best interest to return to hanging around the same people and doing the same things that initially resulted in your alcohol or substance use disorder

You have already put much work in on your recovery and have a new life that you need to focus on. As such, it may be time to let go of unhealthy and toxic friendships from your past life and focus on those that will benefit your new life. 

To help you decide what friendships to cut, ask yourself which friends will still want to do things with you when alcohol or drugs are unavailable. In addition, anyone who takes issue with your sobriety was never a good friend in the first place. 

Step 2: Manage Your Social Activities

Returning to your everyday routines after returning home from rehab can take some time. It is much healthier and better for your recovery to take “baby steps” and work on your sobriety one day at a time. 

One of the biggest mistakes some people make is jumping back into a full social calendar that has them going to places they used to frequent and hanging around people they should not. So, unfortunately, they end up putting themselves into situations that can trigger a relapse

It is better to ask whether drugs or alcohol will be available at the social event. If so, then you may want to decline politely. Initially, avoiding your triggers is better than putting your coping skills to the test and hoping you do not relapse. 

Step 3: Take Time to Prepare Yourself Mentally

Part of being able to be around people who are drinking is putting yourself in the proper mindset. For example, you go out to eat. There will be people at other tables drinking, and you have no control over this. Therefore, it is better to prepare yourself for this situation mentally. If you find it too overwhelming at this moment, order your food to go and enjoy a nice meal at home. 

Step 4: Use Your Tools and Have a Buddy 

During rehab and in your aftercare, you are continuing to learn new tools and coping skills. Do not forget about these when you find yourself in situations where there are drugs or alcohol. You should also have a buddy or two that you can count on when things start to become overwhelming. You can ask them to attend social events with you or be there to save you should you need some help. 

Step 5: Avoid Putting Yourself in Risky Situations

You should already be aware that going to places where you drank or used drugs after rehab is not beneficial. You should also avoid being around people that can trigger you. As a result, you should avoid putting yourself into risky situations where you know you could easily relapse. 

Instead, look for new ways to socialize and new activities you can enjoy without drinking or using drugs. For example, you could join a sober bowling league or look for sober events in your city. Frequently, you can learn about these through your meetings, your sponsor, or the local community center. 

How Can I Stay Sober When Friends Are Drinking?

Certain social settings, like going out to dinner with friends, could result in some of your friends drinking. You can do a few different things to stay sober when your friends are drinking. 

For starters, you could talk to your friends ahead of time and explain how important it is for you to maintain your sobriety. You could request that they refrain from drinking around you when going out to eat. 

Supportive friends should understand and be willing to support you. If they are not, then you may need to cut that person out of your life. 

Another option, when you encounter friends who are drinking and did not plan to meet them, is to get a fake drink. There are plenty of “virgin” drinks that look like alcoholic drinks that will stop people from asking why you are not drinking. 

Most importantly, you need to put your needs first and foremost. If you find it too difficult to be around friends that drink, even when they support your sobriety, then just let them know it is too much for you to handle. Either they will understand or it may be time to find some new sober friends. 

Take the First Steps to Recovery in Orange County, CA

At Pacific Sands Recovery Center in Orange County, CA, we are here to help you take the first steps to recovery. Our personalized treatment programs include learning how to develop effective coping skills and strategies for long-term success, including how to stay sober when others are drinking or using drugs. Contact us today to start your recovery.


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