Deciding whether or not you should accept a party invitation is dependent on where you are in your journey of recovery.
For instance, if you are newly sober, it would be in your best interest to stay away from any event where there might be alcohol or substance use—even if the substance is not your preferred substance. Peer pressure could cause one sip of wine to become a total downward spiral into calling an old dealer.
This need not mean that you isolate yourself from all social activity. Loneliness can prove detrimental to your psychological and physical wellbeing.
To gauge whether to go to an event where there may be drugs or alcohol, consider your recovery process and how you’ll handle any uncomfortable situations that may occur.
Know Your Triggers
If being in a large group amps up your nerves, take caution when accepting invitations. Connections are harder to make sober, especially when you’re a natural introvert states an article in the Huffington Post. You might be more inclined to risk having a drink in order to loosen up or break the ice. One night of pleasure is never worth endangering your sobriety.
Reconsider Before Going to an Old Hangout Spot
Have you been invited to an old haunt? While it may be tempting to go drop by and visit an old hangout spot or reconnect with friends of the past, consider whether or not these friendships were based on more than just substance abuse.
Alcohol and other drugs cloud your vision. When you’re sober, you are more interested in finding people who relate with you on larger goals in life outside of getting hammered.
Even if it’s been five years since you last used, you are always one second away from relapsing. Don’t forget that. There are plenty of people out there who would make good friends. You need not have a whole group in the beginning. Just start with building one true connection.
Create a Plan of Action
Once you’ve decided to go to a place, it’s critical to create a backup plan of action should things turn awry. Think of as many possible worst-case scenarios that you can and know what you will do if something happens.
For instance, if someone pulls out a joint or a bottle of pills, know that you must get up and leave. Do not worry that you are being rude or feel like you need to offer any excuse as to why you’re leaving. Your real friends will understand. Staying put is just playing with fire.
Consider Your Emotional State
While you may be more inclined to seek out social interaction during times of boredom or feeling down in the dumps, negative emotions make relapse more likely, according to a study published in the US National Library of Medicine.
It’s important to take stock of your emotional state before going out. If you just suffered through a bad day, you may be subconsciously yearning for relief. In the past, you likely used substances to comfort you. Now, it would be better to go to a support group instead of a party. Your intentions could be good, but emotional vulnerability leaves us fragile. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Considering your state of emotions requires you to be brutally honest with yourself. Remember, we are our greatest illusionists. Are you going out in order to find connection or escape?
It’s not just negative emotions that leave us vulnerable to using—it’s also peaks. If you are feeling high from landing a new job, the endorphin rush might push you into wanting to increase that feel-good high. Celebrating can lead us to being overly optimistic about our state of wellbeing, luring us to believe that one drink can’t hurt—but it can! Don’t forget that.
Invite a Close, Sober Friend
If you’ve been invited to a hangout with some co-workers or other people who you do not know so well, consider inviting someone you trust to come with you. Knowing that you have support will increase your confidence should a sticky situation arise.
Reaffirm and Ground Yourself in Your Beliefs and Achievements
Rather than letting fear of relapse consume you, remind yourself where you are in journey of sobriety. Perhaps even create a list of all the times you felt utterly hopeless in your battle with substance abuse. Then, look in the mirror and congratulate yourself for your achievements. Every second you remain sober is a grand achievement. Think about how much your health and relationships are improving on daily basis.
It is no small feat getting sober. Having to socialize without the fog of substance use is nothing compared to how much you’ve already achieved.