When you give up drinking, it can be hard to come to terms with the fact that many people in your life probably won’t make the same decision. Even close friends that support you may still want to drink around you and have fun. How do you stay sober when you are in the midst of people who love to drink?
Depending on the stage of recovery you are in, there are different ways to handle the situation. Someone in the very early phases of recovery may need to take some time away from going to parties or bars with their friends who still drink. You don’t necessarily need to cut off contact with these people unless you feel that they aren’t supportive or are trying to pressure you start drinking again.
You might need to take a break or find ways to hang out with your friends in situations that don’t involve alcohol. Sometimes when you are going through a big change, your instinct may be to isolate yourself but when you are getting sober it is actually more important to have a support system of friends around. The trick is to find the right people and the right situations that can make you feel connected but not tempted to drink.
In the later stages of recovery you might be able to attend parties and even be around friends drinking and still be able to maintain your sobriety. It can take a while to get that to that point so don’t feel bad about saying no to certain parties or gatherings where you know that you’ll feel uncomfortable. Only allow yourself to be around alcohol and drinking if you feel secure enough as a sober person to handle it.
Finding Sober Friends while I’m Sober
Even though you don’t need to toss aside your friends that still drink, it can be helpful to make some new sober buddies to add to your social life. If all of your old drinking buddies go out to a bar and you have to say no, it can feel better to have someone to hang out with who is in the same position as you. If you are skipping out on a night of drinking you can ask a few sober friends to go to the movies with you or find a fun activity to do together.
A great way to find sober friends is to attend twelve step meetings or another type of support group where you are able to talk openly with other people who have quit drinking. These groups tend to foster close friendships with people who genuinely care about your sobriety. People in these groups can lean on one another and rely on each other’s support in times of need.
When you start to connect with sober people in your groups you can try to meet up regularly outside of the meetings to create your own social network. You can think of weekly activities and get-togethers that everyone will enjoy and look forward to. You can even invite some of your closer friends who still drink if they are supportive and understanding of your decision to be sober.
Letting Go of Problematic Friends
Ideally your closest friends will be sympathetic to your choice to quit drinking and will be there for you in whatever way they can. However, that is not always the case when people make such a big life change. Some friends may feel uncomfortable with your sobriety especially if they have their own drinking issues that they haven’t dealt with yet.
If one of your friends who still drinks is bullying you, making you feel bad about your sobriety or doesn’t agree with your decision you might have to take a step back. The most important thing is staying committed to being sober and if you feel pressure and shame from someone then take a break from them. You can tell them that you need some time to focus on your recovery and to put things into perspective.
A true friend will support your recovery journey and won’t pressure you to drink. If someone you love doesn’t understand why you are doing this then try to list the reasons why you chose to quit drinking and tell them about how much your sobriety means to you at this point in your life. If they don’t listen or don’t accept it then you might need to let go.
Quitting alcohol is a major life change and sometimes it can cause problems between friends. Stay focused on the people in your life you make you feel happy, supported and loved. Find sober friends or friends who accept your sobriety and keep them in your life so that you don’t stray away from your goals.