My friends and family are still big drinkers

How to Swim with the Sharks you still Love!

So, you just got out of rehab; you managed to disconnect from all your old drug buddies, but your close friends and family are still big drinkers, how do you handle this?

You made a tremendous amount of change while in treatment, but your close friends and family are still be the same. They haven’t changed. Of course they will know your current situation in life and will be helpful, while also being supportive.  What you will soon face is that there lives will still be the same and what they do and how they act will not have changed much.  Now it comes down to you handling it from the perspective of a person who is now clean and sober.  This does take a lot of doing, while knowing your own limitations, but more importantly having the confidence in yourself it can be done. Here are some useful tools you can use to handle this situation.

Take a look at who your friends are; if these are the people you grew up with and know very well, then you do not have much to worry about as odds are they will respect your choices to not be apart of the heavy drinking scene.  If these are not your close friends or family and are maybe distant or simply just random acquaintances, you may have to re-evaluate whom you want in your life now that you are clean and sober.  This is not meaning you disconnect from these people, but you will have to make some tough decisions about who you will want to socialize with.  People who have never been addicts or have been through what you have will never fully understand what it takes to maintain sobriety.  Evaluating your social network and close friends will help you decide the best way of handling the situation. Keep your inner circle small and tight.

Pick and choose your battles, you can still have fun and not take part in the wild nights your close friends may still go out on.  If you know they are going bar hopping or out on the club scene, you can just do something as simple as meet up with them prior for dinner or grab a quick bite to eat, before they head out.  This way you are still spending time with them and you are not putting yourself in any difficult spots afterwards.  One of the best methods is to organize some sober plans such as going out into the wild, camping, fishing or hunting, throwing a dinner party, or an afternoon bbq.  If they are married and have kids, putting together some family trips or outings, something that everyone can take part in.  This is all about being creative and looking at life as something else other than partying all weekend, and getting messed up.  It can be little things like going to the movies, grabbing coffee, going to play paint ball, go-karts; whatever may bring out the kid in you.  With you hosting, you are not setting a precedent that alcohol will be involved, you are just looking to have a clean and fun time.

More importantly, and as I have come to recognize; your best friends are those for a reason.  I have a few very close friends who I grew up with and have known for over twenty years, and they have always been supportive and helpful, and have watched out for me, and actually care about me being sober.  I have been clean and sober now for ten years; my best friends have families now and are not the party animals I grew up with anymore, but more specifically they respected my choices to stay clean, especially from alcohol.  If there is any chance of anyone really understanding what you are going through it is those who are close to you, and it is ultimately up to you to help them understand.

Just because your friends and family are still big drinkers, this doesn’t mean you have to swim with the sharks, it means you need to figure out which one’s are a threat, and which one’s are Great Whites.

My friends and family are still big drinkers ©

My friends and family are big drinkers