LI Addiction Resources - Dealing with Social Drinking in Recovery
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Encountering Alcohol in Social Situations While in Recovery

Silhouettes of social drinkers at a bar.

Alcohol is everywhere. It is a fact of life and it probably always will be. We live in a culture in which drinking is woven into practically every social interaction. This can leave those who are recovering from alcoholism feeling like outsiders. We can’t; however, shut ourselves off from life and the people we care about. As harsh as it may seem, the world doesn’t stop because we’re in recovery. What, then, do we do when we find ourselves in the presence of alcohol during recovery? And when do we start getting more comfortable in situations that involve social drinking?

The answer to the first question can be a little easier than the second. As far as our coping methods for social drinking, there are several things we can do. We can rely on the experienced wisdom of our sponsors. We can lean on our support system for objective insight. We can listen to our instincts and exercise and abundance of caution. Perhaps most importantly, we should talk to our therapists and seek their advice. If we’re feeling particularly vulnerable, we should make sure we have a reliable and quick exit plan in place for when we need to leave.

As far as the second question goes (when will be comfortable enough), the answer is different for everyone. Some are able to be around alcohol very soon after their recovery and some may take years to finally take the risk; it’s all a matter of our threshold, personal experience and history of substance abuse. Some may choose to avoid situations in which there’s alcohol altogether, which can be incredibly difficult in this day and age. If we’re a loved one of an alcoholic; however, we also have to do our part to keep our friend or family member on track.

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