How to stay sober when everyone’s desperate to party

When I started my adventures in sobriety, recovery took over my entire life. I went to meetings every day and developed a strict schedule to keep my life stable. If you do decide to get sober outside of a residential program, that’s pretty much the norm. And that’s what many people who got sober during the pandemic have done, with face-to-face meetings replaced by Zoom. In some ways, the pandemic has made recovery more difficult, of course, but the fact that you can’t party without potentially contracting a life-threatening illness has helped some people stick to their diets. Now that things are changing in the United States (for those vaccinated, of course), some newly sober people are fear of returning to “normal” for fear of relapse. And it is perfectly understandable.

“One of the biggest challenges of opening up the world when you’re newly sober is peer pressure,” says JF Benoist, Hawaii founder of a holistic addiction treatment program and author of Addicted to the monkey mind: Change the programming that sabotages your life. “It is difficult to return to environments where people drink or consume [drugs], says Benoist. Some of the people and places we loved the most before we got sober can turn into obstacles, says Benoist.

It’s not that someone is slyly trying to thwart your sobriety, but if you got sober during the lockdown and your friends haven’t seen you in a year, they don’t have a lived experience of you as that sober person. And so, they may not know how to support you. Not only that, but everyone has a different response to everything “back to normal,” which includes excitement, anxiety, and for some, the insatiable urge to party. They might want you to join in this kind of entertainment. That’s why it’s so important for newly sober people to learn to say “no,” says Benoist, to situations they know to be tempting or uncomfortable.

“No” should be a full sentence, but some people may not hear it that way. Plus, saying no to the people you care about can be difficult, so Benoist says being firm, direct, and vulnerable is the best approach to helping others understand the limits of your substance. “I recommend what I call ‘putting a stake in the ground’,” says Benoist. He explains what it might look like: “If someone asks you if you want a drink, don’t just say ‘No’ or ‘Not tonight.’ Make a bold, completely open and honest statement. It means explaining to people not only the fact that you are not drinking or consuming, but also why or what could be the consequences if you do.

As someone who has recovered from Big Easy addiction, I have had a lot of personal experience saying no to overly persistent party invitations. My approach may be a little too blunt for some people, but it works for me. I literally said to people who were trying to buy me drinks in bars, “Thanks, but if I drink this I’m going to sleep with someone I don’t really like and I’ll probably destroy both of our lives.” Most people don’t object to this level of honesty and, frankly, that makes it an interesting conversation starter.

If giving strangers the intimate details of how you got HPV seems like overkill, I don’t blame you. Benoist has a few less controversial suggestions. If someone keeps offering you drinks after you said no the first time, he said, you might say something like, “Alcohol has hurt me, my marriage and my career. so I no longer drink. Who is really going to put the pressure on you after a statement like this? Only someone you probably wouldn’t want to reject one with, anyway.

If your friends can’t stand you like a teetotaler, well, you might have to find some new friends, Benoist says. Ouch. I know it’s easier said than done – especially as an adult – but it may be necessary if all the friends are following their Pfizer shot with a tequila hunter. “There are a lot of amazing people in the world who don’t drink or revolve around drinking,” says Benoist. Even if you don’t know these people yet, they are there, he says.

Pro Tip: Even if you don’t want to do a 12-step recovery, going to a meeting can be a great way to meet people. Some of my best friends are people I met at Recovery Dharma, a program for sober people who enjoy meditation. If you can’t find a bunch of sober like-minded people to support you where you live, there are tons of options out there. Plus, while recovery may be your number one priority, that doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your time obsessively taking care of your process.

I can personally attest to the fact that recovery from addiction can take over your life in ways that can hurt almost as much as it helps. Sobriety can be an important aspect of who you are, but it is not your whole identity. Plus, getting sober often leaves you with a lot of free time (time you previously spent with whatever substance you want), so it can be a great time to explore new interests or rekindle old ones.

Being sober after the pandemic doesn’t just mean choosing between bars and recovery meetings. As we timidly – but soberly – return to the world of in-person activities, Benoist says it’s more important than ever to find fun things to do with other IRL humans. Yes, you probably need support for your recovery, you also need a human connection. “Bonding is one of the most powerful antidotes to addiction, and face-to-face connections can often provide a more intimate connection than interactions online. “

“Find bands that do things you love,” says Benoist. “It could be a bike group, a yoga class, a chess club, whatever fills you with joy. In these activities, you feel like someone who is appreciated, worthwhile, and even loved, all of which are essential for sobriety. I totally agree. When I started to get sober, I took meditation teacher training online. It gave me a way to pass the time I freed up by not being fucked up all the time, kept me cool, and I also learned a new skill that has helped me personally and professionally. .

In addition to addressing the social aspects of sobriety, some people also find that recovery requires them to have a new relationship with their body. If you’ve been abusing your body for years, you may find that it doesn’t really speak to you when you first get sober or forget how to listen. “The best way to deal with these difficult emotions is to create routines where you come back to your body,” says Benoist. Nurturing the mind-body connection can be a major healing factor in your recovery journey, but it’s not one size fits all.

Try to experiment with new ways to promote body awareness, says Benoist. “You can meditate, take a brisk walk, bounce on a trampoline, whatever you’re doing, just pay attention to your breathing and watch how you feel at that moment. When you continually create a strong mind-body connection, you’ll notice that your anxiety and stress can start to decrease dramatically, ”he says. It might sound like a cliché, but you might find that becoming friends with yourself is the best healing medicine.

If you need to speak to an addiction resource professional for yourself or a loved one, call the SAMHSA hotline at 1-800-662-HELP. There is someone there 24/7/365. If you have an overdose, call 911.

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