How do you deal with socializing during recovery from alcoholism? You have probably heard the popular saying in rehab circles: “Change your people, your places, and your things.” But the reality is that most of us cannot simply cut ties to every single person we know. You don’t get to choose your relatives and you may not be in a position to readily move or change jobs. So what to do about the social piece?
Set Clear Boundaries
Let people know that you are not going to drink. You don’t necessarily need to tell people you are in recovery. You can tell them you are giving up alcohol “for lent” (even if you aren’t Catholic) or to cut calories or in honor of your newborn niece or nephew. It is fine if it sounds like you are being a little silly. The main point here is to find a way to effectively communicate that you won’t be drinking and that it isn’t up for discussion or negotiation.
If you are going to a social event and you don’t think they will have your non-alcoholic beverage of preference, bring your own bottle (or can or a six-pack). Be low-key about it and non-confrontational. Don’t make a big deal of it. But just bring your own if you think there will be any problems.
Volunteer to be the Designated Driver
One way to make your choice to not drink a non-issue is to be the Designated Driver. This can position you to be supportive of everyone else’s partying and not make people uncomfortable drinking around you, while also killing any discussion about whether or not you will drink or why you are not drinking.
Change Your Routine
If you take up a hobby during recovery from alcoholism or start exercising, it can help fill your time with something positive in place of drinking while naturally putting you in contact with more people with healthy habits. This can help reduce your contact with people who are being problematic in a way that won’t look suspicious or make people feel criticized or rejected.
Be Your Usual Friendly Self
Deflect attention away from your choice to not drink. Get talented at changing the subject in a low-key way, but be warm and make people feel at ease. In most cases, people don’t really care whether or not you drink. They are actually reacting to the feeling that you don’t approve of them drinking or they are reacting to their fear that this change in your life will cost them an important relationship.
In other words, they fear that they will personally lose something in some way. Put their fears to rest by being warm, friendly and non-judgmental. This is your lifestyle change. It is not a commentary on their lifestyle choices.
Take Some Time for Yourself
Being “on” all the time can be very draining. It can help to set aside time for yourself. Give yourself the occasional evening or weekend to lie low and avoid the social scene. This will make it easier to deal with the rest of the time.
Recovery from alcoholism can be a very stressful time, both for you and for the people around you. You can make it easier by doing your best to disengage from discussions about your choice to not drink and reassuring your loved ones about their fears.
If you are interested in treatment for alcohol problems, call our toll-free number today and one of our representatives will provide answers to your questions and help you select a program designed for your specific needs and preferences.