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Three Tips for Handling Social Situations While in Recovery

Group recovery meetingIt’s Recovery Month!

In September, we celebrate the hundreds of thousands of people living in recovery, those interested in recovery, and the loved ones and professionals who work tirelessly to support them on their path.

Social situations can become awkward for even the most elegant among us. Trying to balance healthy boundaries with the natural desire to connect to others is a tough mix.

If you’re in recovery (or supporting someone who is), here are three tips for social situations that might make those moments a little easier:

  1. It’s OK to put yourself first. In fact — you should. The decision to skip substances and seek support is all yours — and it’s a decision to be proud of. You can’t control how others will react when you share that you’re in recovery. Expect to get a mix of responses in social situations: surprise, support, humor, confusion, frustration, rejection. Remember that you’re not responsible for how anyone else is feeling — you’re responsible for your personal health.
  2. Friction can reveal the bonds worth keeping. If you’re in crowds that don’t receive your news of recovery well, even after an adjustment period, it could be a sign that those relationships are ready to fall away. Pay attention to the people who support you for being yourself sans substances. People who build you up for taking the courageous steps needed to live in recovery are people you want to keep around.
  3. You don’t have to spill the beans if you don’t want to. There’s plenty of ways to participate in social activities without sharing in substance use. And you don’t have to tell the whole story if you don’t want to. You can offer to be a designated driver, or you can say that you have to get up early (general work or family obligations are solid stand-bys). Order a mocktail if you’re thirsty. Or, take the simple, genuine approach and say “I have more fun sober” or “I’m in recovery.” It’s hard to argue with that! And if someone does, well… see point #2 above.

If you want more inspiration to face social situations boldly, read about Holly’s journey on the blog Hip Sobriety. She is a substance-free social butterfly, and shares insights from her recovery journey. You might also enjoy this article, 8 Ways to Just Say No To Alcohol in Social Situations.