Whether you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, socialization is essential for your well-being. Unfortunately, most of their social interactions may have centered around substance use for many people struggling with substance addiction. When you are used to hanging out with friends who use drugs or alcohol, sober socialization may be challenging. However, sober socialization is a skill you can develop in addiction recovery.
Common Triggers During Socialization
Social events often include and normalize alcohol or drugs for entertainment. Exposure to these substances or other people’s use can be triggering. You may feel pressure or temptation to use it again. No matter how long you have been sober, placing yourself in such situations may create a lot of stress or anxiety.
Even when substances are not present in certain social events, being around certain people or circumstances might evoke difficult and triggering emotions. For example, even a social or party atmosphere where drugs are not present can call up cravings. However, you can mitigate these effects by recognizing your triggers and setting healthy boundaries about what you can control.
Low-Stress, Easy Socializing in Recovery
Though some forms of socialization can present risks, avoiding socialization or keeping to yourself is unhealthy. Your continued health requires you to rebuild your social life. Do not retreat into your cave if you discover socializing to be challenging. Instead, assess your unique situation and plan low-stress and easy social events with sober or recovering individuals. If you intentionally look for these opportunities, you may be surprised to find many options.
Not all social gatherings include alcohol and drugs. There is a wide range of sober activities to explore. For example, a museum tour can be a great way to spend time, learn something new, and connect with others. You could also organize a hiking trip with family and friends. If you are a book lover, join a local book club. Find sober activities you enjoy and set your boundaries for the stress level you can tolerate.
Navigating Inevitable Social Events
Have a plan when you have to attend certain social occasions where you foresee challenges or triggers. Consider bringing along a sober companion or a support buddy who provides accountability. Alternatively, call the host—if appropriate—and explain your situation. They will likely understand your needs and can help you make sure your sobriety stays safe.
You should also set boundaries for challenging situations that could trigger intense, negative emotions. For example, avoid toxic personal relationships or family dynamics. Plan an exit strategy and ways to excuse yourself from triggering situations gracefully. Your emotional and mental health should take priority over everything else. Build a support system around you if you must engage with these relationships, so they don’t become compromising.
Staying Connected to a Strong Recovery Community
Your peers can be excellent socializing partners if you are already connected to a recovery community. For example, many treatment facilities offer alumni programs that have regular meetings and sober activities. With shared experiences, you can build long-lasting, meaningful, supportive relationships.
Forming strong ties with your recovery community can benefit your long-term health. Whether it is an alumni program or a sober living home, invest in relationships supporting you through different recovery stages.
Sober Socializing Is Self-Care
Sober socialization is not a suggestion but an imperative. Finding ways to connect with others is an essential form of self-care. While staying away from drugs and alcohol, you can still use the benefits of friendships, shared experiences, accountability, support, and empathy. Without socialization, recovering individuals encounter loneliness, a hazard for relapse.
Relationships give life meaning and purpose. As an individual working your way through recovery, you must rebuild meaningful relationships to find purpose. Many recovering individuals struggle with low self-esteem and childhood trauma that sparks their dangerous relationship with addictive substances. Relearning healthy social skills and rebuilding relationships serve as protective factors against further harm from these past experiences.
Seek Help to Learn Social Skills
Many recovery programs now recognize the importance of community and include a social element to help individuals overcome significant stumbling blocks in recovery. For example, the Community Reinforcement Approach involves recovering individuals’ significant others and helps those people build social skills. In addition, support groups such as the 12-Step program have been known for creating a sense of community and belonging.
If you foresee socialization as a long-term problem, find a recovery program that values a strong social community. Then, once you achieve more stable sobriety, stay connected with health professionals and fellow individuals in recovery to aid your journey to a healthier social life.
Finding ways to connect with others is essential to the addiction recovery process. Isolation can only create stress and risks for relapse. Sober socializing, however, can sometimes be challenging for individuals who have struggled with drug or alcohol addiction. Laguna Shores Recovery offers sober activities with others in recovery to guide you through this journey. At Laguna Shores, our experienced mental health professionals and compassionate staff understand the science behind socialization and recovery. We apply evidence-based treatment and adopt an integrated approach to recovery. We will walk alongside you or your loved one to offer support and guidance. Our alumni programs include aftercare and connect you with a community of recovering individuals. Call us today to discover how you can be part of our community, as peer support is key to recovery. For more information on our programs, call 866-934-5276 today.