Updated: May 24, 2019
Alright, so you're sober now. Your social life is over because you are not drinking or doing whatever substances your friends do. What can you do about this?
The first and most important thing to convey is that once you have changed you will be able to be around substances without fear of relapse. If that were not true, this would be a daunting task. But it is. You will be able to go to weddings, bachelor parties, wherever. However, in the beginning, it is not recommended to be so bold, due to triggers. You may want to start by having an open and honest discussion with friends. You'd be surprised how supportive people can be. If your friends are not willing to participate in sober activities to support you, how good are these friends? If they can't imagine socializing without a substance, they may have a problem themselves and we recommend finding some new friends. But where do your find sober friends? You could start by meeting some friends at professional counseling groups for substance use. You can also check out 12-step meetings, which are full of people that don't drink or drug.
One of the main problems in early recovery is triggers. We recommend being in counseling to learn how to manage triggers. These will also decrease in strength over time, but in the beginning, this can be very difficult. You may have certain friends or family that trigger you, and you will need to plan accordingly, or avoid those people for a short period of time until a plan is in place. Again, 12-step meetings are a safe place to avoid triggers. You may also wish to go to inpatient treatment if urges are too strong. Triggers are almost unavoidable, so this may be a step you wish to consider. Or you can lay out your “people, places, and things” that trigger you and attempt to avoid them in the beginning. Hobbies associated with substance use may need to be stopped for a time and you may want to reevaluate your immediate social space in the beginning.
If you choose to go out, whether it is immediately, or for the first time in months, we're suggest having a safety/escape plan. You will want to be able to escape quickly if you become overwhelmed by thoughts or urges to drink or use. This means if you go out with friends, you may want to take your own car. That way you are not reliant on anyone. Thankfully, with the advent of smartphones, this is less of an issue because of transportation apps. There are many conveniences of modern times that make getting sober in today’s world much easier. Other options for planning might be to bring a sober support. If you've been meeting other sober people, or have supportive friends and family, but need to go to a wedding, you may want to request that someone attend with you to help hold you accountable. Whatever your plan is, we recommend you have one. Many an individual have been struck down in early recovery due to over-confidence and poor planning. Counselors can also help you to create plans for your unique situations.
At Independent Recovery, we understand the difficulty of early recovery, and how it can be difficult to avoid risky situations without becoming a recluse. Let us help you create safety plans for your situations and build sober and supportive people into your life. Reach out to us for a free consultation.