Staying clean and sober in early recovery
Avoiding alcohol during social occasions
Have you recently stopped drinking or using drugs? Are you recently out of an private alcohol rehab centre or private drug rehab centre? Have you recently started attending AA or NA and decided to give total abstinence a try? If so, you will need to get used to living life without drinking or using drugs on both a day to day basis and on social occasions.
It can be quite daunting in early recovery to face all those occasions that we traditionally used for a good old drinking or using session. And knowing we are not going to drink or use drugs. If you are tempted to think it is going to be awful being clean and sober on social and so called special occasions you need to remember how often those so called special occasions were spoiled by your drinking or using. And not just for you but for many people around you. Were they really so fantastic? And if they seemed so at the time, most of us would have suffered the awful effects afterwards when we woke up the next day. Feeling embarrassed and ashamed and were in the ‘dog house’ with our families because of what we said or did.
A potentially daunting experience
That said, it can be daunting facing those social and special occasions without the relaxing effect of a drink or drug. We have to face not only the occasions which everyone celebrates such as Christmas and New Year, but the personal occasions too. Such as birthdays, funerals and other occasions at which we would have had a drink or drug to help us face them. And we have to face them clean and sober. We also have to cope with the ‘firsts’ in recovery. The first argument or break up with a partner, the first really bad day at work etc etc – and all without blurring it all out with a drink or drug.
It gets easier with time
So how do we do this? It will get easier with practise. As children we did not need to drink or use drugs to get excited and enjoy parties. We need to relearn that ability to enjoy ourselves without an artificial stimulant. By staying clean and sober, we actually have a chance of enjoying and appreciating a special day or event with a clear head. While at the same time making it a pleasant experience for those around us too.
Second, surprising as it is in early addiction recovery – we discover that while we are worrying about not drinking, who will notice, what will they say etc etc, for most other people this is not important. It is only us who obsess about alcohol, who is drinking what and how much etc. Most other people don’t notice and don’t care as they are not alcoholics. Most of them can have one or two drinks and then just stop! Amazing.
Create a back up plan
However, if you are still worried about surviving a special occasion without a drink, then have a back up plan in place. Arrive a little late and leave a little early. Have your car available so you can get away if necessary – and have a reason ready to use. Even better, go with a sober friend who does not need to drink to get some back up and support.
As time goes by you will not find these occasions so daunting and will begin to enjoy them. And you will also enjoy being able to remember everything the next day, not to be on the backfoot with your family and not to have a hangover!
Good luck and enjoy!