We live in a culture that celebrates and encourages us to “grab a drink.” Advertisements glamorize drinking, Facebook memes humorously renaming a glass a wine “mommy juice” go viral. Alcohol is everywhere and there is no denying that getting sober is counter-cultural.
In very early sobriety, complete avoidance of high risk situations might be necessary in order to abstain. However, at some point you have to get a life, otherwise your resentment towards sobriety will continue to grow and relapse will be inevitable. With more confidence in sobriety you can relearn how to experience a concert, baseball game, or business conference forgoing that cocktail or beer that you have come to automatically associate with those events. It will be uncomfortable at first. Time, practice and having a plan is critical to successfully navigating these situations. Most of my clients report that with practice they have learned to enjoy the things they did before and experience them with new clarity and an increased level of engagement. One of my clients told me, “It’s really nice to actually remember the concert I went to the next day.”
The people in your life who have a healthy relationship with alcohol will not care that you are not drinking. The people who have previously relied on you being their drinking buddy will definitely care that you are not drinking. They are will question your decision, they might even have to evaluate their own drinking. This may cause some changes in the dynamic of your relationship with that person and you will have to reconsider what the depth of the relationship is when you remove alcohol from the equation.
These social challenges are best confronted with help and support. Having a group to discuss these difficulties with is critical in recovery. Because sobriety can feel isolating at times, having a community of people who understand these challenges can be both informative and reassuring. Sobriety does not mean that life gets smaller, just the opposite in fact!