A large barrier towards individuals beginning to undertake the recovery journey is that they may feel as though they will never again have fun, or be able to experience a night “just like old times” again. Just as it’s true that recovery from addiction will require some drastic life changes, it is equally true that remaining in recovery requires vigilance in all areas of life, socializing notwithstanding. This, however, does not mean that you will never again be able to have a night out or nurture new social connections.
Social behavior is a natural part of life, and finding ways to remain connected with important others is vital to recovery. But can you trust yourself to go out like you used to and remain sober? Will you be able to meet up with old friends, or go back to the places where you were once a regular?
Depending on your recovery journey, the answers may differ, however, there is no sugar-coating the fact that the familiar people and places when you were entrenched in your old lifestyle carry with them the possibility of being detrimental to your current progress. Navigating these waters should be done with extreme caution and intention.
Prepare Yourself with a Plan
Before deciding that you want to risk a night out, it is best practice to prepare for every possibility of how the night may go. Start at the beginning of the night, and identify potential triggers: What if the waitress offers you a sample of wine or someone buys you a drink? What if you feel pressured by your friends, or you realize that you’ve never danced sober before? If you prepare yourself for every possible scenario, you will be more likely to stick to your plan and avoid quick in-the-moment decision making that has not been your friend in the past. Don’t underestimate the power of your triggers, especially the nostalgic ones.
An important part of this plan is making sure that you have a sober support system available to you at all times. Whether this means bringing a sober friend along with you, setting up a system of check-ins with a sponsor or supportive other, or seeking the wisdom of someone experienced in their recovery to go over the plan for the outing, this is vital to the plan.
Start Small & Resist Peer Pressure
Making the choice to remain sober while the rest of your social circle continues to drink or abuse drugs can be the most difficult experience for those recovering from addictive tendencies. It may be difficult to even fathom walking away from friendships that have a great deal of history behind them, but how can you expect to pursue a recovery lifestyle when these individuals remain unsupportive? Not everyone will try to pressure you into “just having one drink”, but in friend groups where that is the case, consider whether these people are your true friends at all, or if they see their ability to wreck your recovery as justification to avoid trying themselves. Make sure you enlist a friend who has your best interests at heart to help keep you in line, and better yet, avoid all instances of social pressure, keeping your social circle small and supportive.
A Night Out While Staying In Recovery
Before you were in recovery, you had a reliable and easy access to fun: whether nights out with friends, intoxicating adventures, and an external substance regulating your body’s consistent release of dopamine. Now your body needs to learn new ways to regulate itself, and so too do you need to learn new ways to access a fun time. Of course, things will be different.
Going out and having a social life is always going to be one of those things. It may be that thinking through the challenges involved in planning a night out may sway your decision making towards a night in instead. But this does not mean that you have to stop living. By taking the time to prepare yourself ahead of time, enlisting support, and starting with a small group of trusted friends, you can maintain an active social life without sacrificing your sobriety.
Give us a call today to learn more about the accountability and support we provide at Riviera Recovery!