Life After Alcohol
For a person who falls heavily in to an abusive, dependent relationship with drugs or alcohol, the prospect of sobriety is about more than not using. It’s a complete and total life overhaul that few people are fully ready for when it comes time to face the music. In fact, one of the biggest sources of resistance is facing the idea that you’ll have to become a completely different person when you give up the crutch.
Recovering addict, Brenton, remembers the alienation in those first few months of sobriety. “I didn’t just lose the bottle and the mental edge it gave me, I lost all my friends and hobbies too. It had become so central to my lifestyle that, when I had to give it up, it felt like I lost everything.”
One of the biggest hurdles recovering alcoholics face is the culture that surrounds them. America glorifies drinking and being drunk beyond all other party activities. Even the more tame side of social encounters often involve a glass of wine or a beer. We drink to celebrate, we drink to mourn, we drink to get to know each other. Alcohol is a cornerstone of a weekend recreational lifestyle and when it’s time to put it away for good (because your health and wellbeing require sobriety), it becomes time to face a whole host of new challenges to structuring your life and social circle.
Adjust Your Friendships
Your good friends will always be your good friends, no matter what. They might be disappointed that you aren’t the same drunken party animal you once were but they understand, support your sobriety, and want the best for you. These friends will be happy to hang out in situations without alcohol. They’re also the ones you’ll be able to trust yourself around when it comes time to adjust back into situations where you know temptation will be there. It’s important to rely on these strong friendships because they will help you adjust to a new lifestyle without losing the things that really make you who you are.
Other friends and colleagues who aren’t as close to you won’t be as understanding or sympathetic to your recovery and these are the ones you need to be careful of. Don’t hang out with people who drink all the time or encourage you to relapse into drinking. It’s not worth it to sit there struggling with yourself for people who can’t even see what you’re trying to accomplish. Re-structure your circle of friends to keep the good ones and cycle away from those who pose a threat to your hard-won and heavily guarded sobriety.
Form New Rhythms
You’ll have to find new ways to enjoy yourself outside of the bar but it’s not as hard as you think. The first few months will be the most difficult, as you’re fighting the momentum of your ingrained habits and patterns. You’ll have to avoid going to your favorite restaurant because you always ordered that awesome Margarita there and the temptation will get to you. Pick somewhere new and fall in love with their non-alcoholic options.
It’s not easy to re-forge your character and lifestyle but after a while you begin to develop new sources of fun and pleasure that have nothing to do with your old life, patterns, and the alcohol that came with it. Throughout the process, you’re not losing yourself. You’re finding yourself in the clarity of sobriety where before all you could see was the drink.