Ten Ways to Avoid Social Triggers
Maintaining friendships and taking part in social gatherings – be it family functions, work events or the classic Australian backyard barbeque – is an important part of recovery.
However, it can also be one of the most complex aspects, as these occasions can be highly triggering for those recovering from substance use disorders.
Consider the following strategies to enjoy socialising without jeopardising your recovery process.
Bringing your own beverages to a gathering is a safeguard against well-meaning offers of alcohol or being cornered in an environment where no alcohol-free options are available.
You are perfectly within your rights to let people know that, while you are happy attending the get-together, you will not be partaking in alcohol and/or drugs and would like your hosts and other guests to respect and support this choice.
If you’re not comfortable announcing your recovery status to the entire party, choose a trusted friend or family member as your moral support. If anyone offers you alcohol and/or drugs or tries to pry into your motives for abstaining, your buddy can provide distraction or simply whisk you away.
If you suspect that certain parties at a gathering could compromise your recovery, plan your escape. Set an alarm on your phone and claim a work or family emergency for a quick exit.
It is unlikely that your loved ones will give you a hard time for abstaining from alcohol and/or drugs; but open communication is always a good idea. If you are comfortable talking about your recovery journey, your loved ones will gather valuable insights and be able to support you more effectively.
There is no need to attend every get-together you’re invited to. To avoid getting overwhelmed choose your social events wisely and save your energy for occasions you are genuinely excited about.
If you are feeling anxious about a social event, have a chat with your support group, mentors, or fellow recovering addicts. Knowing you are not alone with your feelings can be tremendously helpful – as can exchanging coping strategies.
Truthfully, the first attempts at socialising during active recovery can be challenging and awkward – and that is perfectly normal. Learning to socialise without alcohol and/or drugs takes practise and does get easier over time.
Scheduling a call or coffee with a supportive friend or fellow recovering addict to recap your experience of a social event can be very helpful in identifying particularly potent triggers and reinforcing your recovery momentum.
Trust Your Gut
If you’re have a bad feeling about a gathering, don’t go. If you feel like leaving half an hour into a celebration, do it. If, to your surprise, you find yourself having a great time and would like to stay longer than planned – fantastic! Treat yourself kindly and trust your recovery instincts.
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