Recovering from alcohol abuse or addiction is hard enough. However, there is a huge milestone in recovery when you feel confident enough to participate in social situations. Knowing that you’ll be around alcohol or intoxicated people can bring up both temptation and anxiety.
Don’t let anxiety keep you locked inside a room forever. You will eventually need to participate in some event where alcohol is present. However, knowing your trigger warnings, and having a few tricks up your sleeve can make these social events enjoyable rather than stressful.
The New “Coming Out” – Is It Necessary?
Coming out often refers to another community, but do people in recovery need to come out? Is there an obligation to tell those around you that you’re a recovering alcoholic? The answer is that it’s entirely up to you.
If you’re comfortable telling people about your journey, by all means, come out. However, if you are more confident in simply denying the opportunity for a drink, then take that route. Knowing which is right for you is likely something that you’ll decide at the moment.
However, if you’re in a position of power, you may consider “coming out” as a means to confront any negative attention regarding your recovery. People in management positions, politics, or government jobs may feel they need to come out to head off any controversy that may cost them their role.
You should know that coming out can feel both freeing and terrifying. If you announce even to your new group of friends or coworkers that you’re recovering from a substance use disorder, then you may be inviting the stigma of addiction into this new relationship.
Use social situations to feel out whether coming out is right for you. As hard as it is, it may be easier to deny the offer of a drink then to tell everyone about your path to recovery.
Part of AA’s guide book, or “Big Book” is that you should disclose to some of your friends or family members why you should not have offers of alcohol. This can help your inner circle know when it is or is not appropriate to invite you to specific social situations. For example, if a family member is hosting a small get-together at a local pub, they can know ahead of time that the invitation may be difficult for you to handle and accepting may lead to relapse.
Resistance skills largely rely on avoidance and prevention. Many people who help those in recovery suggest carrying a to-go cup with a non-alcoholic beverage to social situations. You can invest in a metal tumbler for water or stop at a 7/11 for a soft drink on your way to a party. That way, there is no expectation of non-alcoholic drinks at a party. Additionally, it may reduce the pressure to drink as there would be limited offers made if you already have a drink in hand.
As part of your resistance skills, you may need to practice saying “no” in tough situations. Ask a friend to help you or write out a script. Imagine what the person might say. Anything similar to, “Oh, can I get you a drink?” to “We have a special bride, and groom themed cocktails, do you want one?” Then rehearse your response. It is often easier to make an automated response, and you have to override the long duration of time in which you automatically responded “yes” to such questions.
Cut Short the Explanation
People recovering from alcohol abuse may find that during social situations, there is a constant pressure to drink. When the atmosphere centers around alcohol, someone will likely push you to have a drink with the crowd. These people often don’t realize that they’re being pushy or have some internal shortcoming that they’re projecting onto those around them.
To respond to people who are a little, or a lot, pushy about you having a drink, you have a few options. All of these options rely on a short delivery, which leaves the other person in charge of their response. Try these responses out:
- “I don’t drink.”
- “Thanks, but I’m an alcoholic.”
- “I have a medical issue which prevents me from drinking.” Not entirely untrue.
- “Is it important to you that I drink?” Slightly rude, but reasonable in many situations.
When you’re ready to move forward with your recovery or to take the first step, contact Rehab Carolinas. With qualified and empathetic staff, you can learn how to handle social situations while sober.