When developing our healthy approaches toward life, it is beneficial to not set ourselves up with unrealistic expectations. While it would be useful for a recovering alcoholic to simply not see, smell, or be offered another drink, ever again, such is not likely to be the case. We live in a culture where partaking of alcoholic beverages is lauded as something that people do while socializing. It is integrated into depictions of fun, and into depictions of relaxation. Drinking is presented as something which is spontaneous, glamorous, and enjoyable. The darker side of the issues surrounding alcohol consumption are rarely spoken of.
We cannot control the entire culture which surrounds us, but we can control our own perspectives and responses to what our culture is presenting as a norm. Part of our efforts to abstain from drinking will be learning to avoid the temptation to associate alcohol with having a good time. We don’t need it to socialize, and we don’t need it to relax. Crafting a world around us in which this fact is apparent can take some time.
Be Open About Your Recovery
The easiest way to set about creating a reality which does not include drinking is to clear out your own space of any reminders of that old way of life. It can be much harder to control the behaviors of those around you. Family members may still be drinking, and old friends may still be expecting you to join them in their revelry. It is important that you safeguard your sober environment through making your intentions of recovery very loud and clear. Anyone who is genuinely concerned for your wellbeing will respond appropriately. Anyone who is not concerned about your recovery doesn’t belong in your immediate social circle.
While you don’t have to provide a full-on testimony for each person in your life, making them aware of your intentions can help to arm them with the information they need to refrain from putting temptations to drink in your path. You can provide them with education about the process of supporting someone in recovery, and can even invite them to join you in your abstinence.
Associate With Other Non-Drinkers
It is hard to effect change while we are on the inside of something. It is easier to be dragged downward than it is to drag someone else upward. For this reason, many people in the beginning stages of recovery will choose to cut ties with old acquaintances. The major idea behind live-in rehab centers and sober living communities involves this concept, as a person who struggles with substance abuse benefits from the initial boost of being separated from the persons and situations which trigger the desire to use.
Even though associating with former drinking buddies is not recommended, the last thing that a person in recovery will want to do is to isolate. Isolation is one of the major factors which contributes to substance abuse and relapse. It is too easy to decide to attempt to self-medicate our problems when there is no expectation or accountability to others on our horizon.
Some individuals in recovery find that their best socialization comes from members of their substance abuse treatment groups. People who are similarly involved in treatment come primed with the information about the damaging effects of alcohol, and the with the awareness of the need to avoid its influence. Other sources of positive socialization can include those friends and loved ones who have been hassling you, all these years, to give up the drinking. This is the time that their negative insistence has paid off, and it can be their time to show a positive side of their affections.
Engage in Activities Which Require Sobriety
You may have already noticed, but events which are high in alcohol inclusion also tend to be rather sedentary. Alcohol is consumed while sitting on a barstool, or standing idly by the dance floor. It is consumed while sitting in the bleachers or on a tailgate. It is sipped around a table, or in front of the television. Sitting and standing around provide the opportunity for a full drink to stay in hand. When you add in a lack of goals for your time, you have a perfect mix of temptation to go ahead and have a couple.
Drinking is a time killer. The key to remaining sober is to fill your time with activities which are purposeful. You don’t have to do something as drastic as going skydiving or climbing Mt. Everest, but you do need to find activities which provide some sort of lasting reward at the end of engaging in them. At the end of the next five years, you will either learn how to play the guitar, or not. The five years are going to go by, regardless.
The clarity of mind and optimism for the future which is accompanied by the decision to approach life with sobriety is fertile ground for exploring all of the items which have been piling up on your running bucket list. Sign up for those college courses, or start that new business venture. Travel to new locations, visit landmarks, or tour a museum. The more quality and achievement which is added to your new life, the less allure that returning to a life of substance abuse will have.
Focus On Your Mental Health
Overall, the best way to avoid alcohol is through losing the desire to include it in your life plans. Many use alcohol as an attempt to escape unpleasant emotions, thoughts, and experiences. Getting to the root of these issues – and eliminating their effects – can provide the best long term defense. Getting to the core of these issues takes time.
The need for mental health support doesn’t end when discharging from the treatment facility, or after attending a certain number of meetings. Tending to our mental health is a lifelong endeavor. Find a local therapist within your budget, or plug into a digital support system toward your regular mental health maintenance.