How Do I Navigate Social Situations While Maintaining Sobriety?

How Do I Navigate Social Situations While Maintaining Sobriety?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

After treatment, it can be difficult to navigate social situations. One reason it’s so difficult is that so many social events revolve around alcohol consumption or drug use. Maintaining sobriety, though, can be achieved post-treatment, and it does not need to be anxiety-provoking. One thing that helps is discovering new healthy sober activities while in treatment. After treatment, those hobbies and activities can be incorporated into daily life. Additionally, it is helpful to learn new coping mechanisms during treatment. This can help people better navigate social situations while maintaining sobriety and provide a smoother transition to post-treatment life.

At First Steps Recovery, clients are exposed to healthy sober activities as well as new coping mechanisms they can use when facing stressful scenarios. 

Maintaining Sobriety and Learning How to Navigate Social Situations Post-Treatment

Recovery is a process that is long-term and ever-changing. What works for a client at a certain time of their journey may not be beneficial to them at a different stage. This is normal. However, clients need to consider their unique needs and possible triggers throughout their recovery in order to maintain sobriety. For some clients, this may look like picking up different hobbies that help promote sobriety. This also may include avoiding stressors that lead to destructive thoughts and habits. Overall, it is crucial to understand oneself in order to accommodate one’s recovery appropriately. Setting goals and practicing healthy habits are also crucial elements in maintaining sobriety.

Maintaining sobriety requires many lifestyle changes, and having a support system that promotes sobriety is one of these changes. One’s support system can help them engage socially and navigate social settings without the presence of drugs or alcohol. A support system can also offer stability when there is alcohol or substances present at an event. Maintaining sobriety is about surrounding oneself with hope, health, support, comfort, and stability.

Coping Mechanisms to Help One Navigate Social Situations in Recovery

At times, there may be addictive substances present at social events, such as work parties. During these stressful moments, it is important for clients to turn to healthy coping mechanisms. These coping mechanisms are also useful when clients feel frustrated or irritated, or when they find themselves craving alcohol or drugs. The main purpose, overall, of coping mechanisms is to reduce stress.

Coping mechanisms are divided into four categories:

  • Problem-focused coping involves addressing the root of the stress with a more logical, “planning” focus.
  • Emotion-focused coping helps reduce negative feelings associated with the problem and involves acceptance and reframing strategies.
  • Meaning-focused coping involves using cognitive strategies that create perspective and meaning in a situation.
  • Social coping involves enlisting the support of the people around oneself.

Sober Lifestyle Habits Learned at First Steps Recovery

First Steps Recovery provides evidence-based clinical services as well as a number of holistic and experiential therapies. All of these services introduce clients to different coping mechanisms and lifestyle habits or activities that support the recovery process.

Holistic therapies can be especially valuable, as clients learn self-care strategies they can use outside of treatment. First Steps Recovery offers the following holistic therapies:

  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Equine therapy
  • Mindfulness therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Recreation therapy
  • Wilderness therapy
  • Yoga therapy

Recreation Therapy

Recreation therapy helps people enjoy life experiences and social settings while sober. Through this therapy, clients explore different recreational activities that help them feel better in both mind and body. This is helpful because when addiction takes over one’s life, it is difficult to engage in activities that nurture the mind and body. Recreation therapy helps clients learn to feel more comfortable in social situations while remaining sober. When communication or self-esteem challenges arise, therapists are available to work through those issues.

Recreation therapy exposes clients to new hobbies and ways to relate in the “real world” through outings that include hiking, walks, and group gatherings in nature. People gain increased physical fitness, a sense of community, better cooperation skills, and improved leadership skills. What’s more, after treatment, clients can bring these sober recreational activities into their normal routines.

Mindfulness Therapy

In mindfulness therapy, clients are introduced to learning how to detect problem behaviors, counter their triggering thoughts, and cope with cravings. Mindfulness can bring clients back to themselves in the present moment and dissolve stress. Clients learn how to remain in the present moment; stay attentive to their bodies, feelings, and surroundings; and assess their attitudes. This helps free them from any challenging feelings.

As part of mindfulness therapy, meditation and breathing techniques help people achieve a calm state of being. These calming techniques are useful for clients navigating social situations. Breathing and being objectively aware of their bodies, minds, and surroundings allows a sense of tranquility to arise. As one continues practicing, they have a chance to process their triggering feelings and come out on the other side.

Here at First Steps Recovery, our main goal is for clients to lead sober, healthy lives free from drugs and alcohol. However, these substances won’t necessarily be entirely removed from their lives. Clients may face social settings where drugs and/or alcohol are present, and this can be triggering. That’s why it is important to have a solid support system that helps promote sober living. In stressful situations, these support people can be someone to lean on and turn to. In treatment, clients learn about healthy coping mechanisms and sober activities they can continue using outside of treatment. A few of these include sober recreational activities and mindfulness habits. To learn more about maintaining sobriety, please call us at (844) 489-0836.

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