It’s bound to happen sooner or later. Are you ready?
The annual family barbeque comes around, your ten-year high school anniversary is next weekend, your best friend’s birthday party is coming up, or maybe you were invited to go tubing down a river. You’ve been living a sober lifestyle maybe it has been a week, maybe it has been months, but for the most part, you have avoided places where substances will be. This time you can’t, you really should attend this event, you can’t just stay locked away alone in your house. Following these tips for relapse prevention can help you through that challenging event.
Socializing is a good thing and getting out to have some fun is a necessity, but maybe you were using for so long that you don’t know how to socialize or have fun without substances anymore. It feels like your first day of high school all over again, or like learning to walk. The good news is, it is not as hard as it may seem, parties and social events are often much more enjoyable sober.
You will notice things you never noticed before; activities will be more fun when you are focused on the activity itself, and conversations with people are more intimate and memorable when sober. Sober life does not mean goodbye to fun; on the contrary, living sober can be far more fulfilling and enjoyable than wasting time with substances.
Strategies and Tips for Relapse Prevention
- Is there a legitimate reason for you to be around substances?
Number one is a question you should ask yourself when you get invited. Is this event one that you SHOULD go to, or are you sending yourself into a trap just to save face? Let’s use alcohol as an easy example. If you have been sober for only a couple weeks, and you get invited to a pool party at your old drinking buddy’s house, do your research on the event.
Who is attending? What sorts of activities are planned? If you know your friend and their typical group well enough to understand that this pool party is just an excuse for them to drink on a Friday night, then skip it and catch them on the next one. Or better yet, take the initiative and host some of your own events where you bring people together.
Not only do you get satisfaction in helping to bring your friends together but you can plan things so that there are plenty of alternatives to drinking. Chances are the only thing happening there is a group of people drinking heavily for the sake of getting drunk, and you would be peer pressured to do the same.
- Make a plan A, B, and C
After doing your research on the event, make yourself a plan. Bring your own beverages. Find a friend who is also living sober with you. Having a friend who is staying sober with you as a support system can be very beneficial. Know how you are getting there, as well as how you are getting home, and definitely have a way to leave early if you need to.
It will also help if people at the event know you are sober, but there is a distinct possibility that some people will not be aware, or maybe there is a bartender or server doing their job and wants to see a drink in everyone’s hand or old friends who you used to use with maybe there, and perhaps they are not happy that you chose a different lifestyle and left them behind.
If you are afraid of peer pressure, or that someone may get aggressive, have a plan of attack. A way of refusing already devised in your mind, and if you need to go to a different part of the party or leave early; DO.
- Know Yourself
Before you leave, make sure that you know you. Know your warning signs, pay attention to how you react to tempting factors around you. If you need to have something to sip on, then keep a beverage in your hand or some gum handy. Along with sobriety comes an incredible chance to get to know yourself in a way that most people never can.
- Have Fun
The most important thing to do and the whole reason you went out in the first place is to learn how to have fun sober. So, go have fun! Dance, socialize, play games, and relax. Discover that you do not need to use substances to unwind after a long week, or to have the courage to talk to people you do not know very well. If you keep your mind and body busy, it will be easy to avoid temptation.
Attending events where you know there will be substances can be frustrating and stressful, following our tips for relapse prevention will help you through those moments. The best safeguard you have is loved ones who are aware of what you are going through. Knowing yourself in conjunction with a support system is the best way to avoid relapse and discover how to live your life sober while having more fun than you ever did with substances.