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How To Deal With Friends That Use When You Are Sober

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

When you successfully complete a drug treatment program, it is an important milestone that needs to be acknowledged and celebrated. Whether you have been clean and sober for just a day or have many years clean, there will always be obstacles in your recovery journey that will test your meddle in regards to protecting your sobriety. No matter how strong your individual recovery plan may be or the strength of your resolve, there will be moments where you will be tempted to use substance again.

One of the biggest obstacles that you will encounter is having friends, family and other acquaintances who use drugs and alcohol. While you do your best to avoid those type of situations, there will be times where you must deal with addicted friends in your recovery. Whether they acknowledge that you are in recovery or not, they may tempt you to use drugs and alcohol once again. Dealing with addicted friends in your recovery can be stressful, but fortunately, there are many ways that you can deal with these situations while keeping your sobriety and sanity intact.

Tips For Staying Sober Around Using Friends

Plan Ahead

If you have received an invitation to a social function in which alcohol use (or other substance use) will be occurring, you must make a solid plan beforehand in order to minimize the dangers of relapse. Have a mental picture in mind of the event; imagine yourself having a non-alcoholic drink, having some appetizers, engaging in conversation and staying away from the bar area. Place the focus on having conversations with friends over your desire to drink or use other substances. You should have the phone numbers of your sponsor or supportive friend programmed into your cell phone and you should have a time frame in mind in regards to how long you plan on staying. You may want to make your exit if people are getting buzzed in order to minimize the temptation to join in the fun.

Have an Ally

When you are dealing with addicted friends in recovery, it is best to have an ally in your corner in social situations. If you are heading into a situation where you know your old using friends will be present, bring along your sponsor, someone from your 12-step group or a supportive family member or friend along for moral support. When you bring someone who is supportive of your recovery, they can act as an extra set of eyes and ears and they can be your safety net if you are feeling vulnerable and need to leave the event.

Learn to Say No and Mean It

In recovery, you will learn that the word no can have tremendous power. In times of temptation or times where you may feel pressure from using who still use drugs and alcohol, being able to say no and have meaning behind it is your best defense against relapse. Saying no in recovery takes practice and you need to take the time beforehand to rehearse saying no until it becomes second nature. When you turn down the offer of a drink or drug, look the person square in the eye and be firm–don’t leave any room for discussion. If you need to give a reason for why you aren’t drinking or drugging, you can approach it in different ways. While being honest is usually best, you can say that you are a designated driver, taking medicines for a cold or you need to get up early the next morning.

party at a concert

Avoid Triggers

If you are in a situation with friends who still drink or use drugs, there can be certain cues in the environment that may cause memories of substance use to flood your memory. These triggers are events that produce a flashback that will transport you back to those days when active drug and alcohol use occurred. These trigger memories can be induced by any of the five senses, and triggers represent different things to different people. In the realm of substance abuse, you may have drank a six-pack before the big game or may have smoked cigarettes during an episode of drinking or drug use. In those situations where you are with using friends in your recovery, avoiding those activities that were closely paired with your substance use is the best way to avoid temptation.

Be A Designated Driver

The option of becoming a designated driver for friends who drink may be a tactic that may not work for some people. Nevertheless, it can be a way in which you can adopt a more positive role. If you take on the designated driver role, you must set up firm rules. First and foremost, you need to tell friends that you are leaving at a certain time. Be sure that you use your own means of transportation, and if using friends don’t want a ride provide them with numbers of local taxicab companies.

Be Positive

When you are surrounded by addicted friends in your recovery, it is important to think positively and focus your energy on the reasons why you have decided to stay away from drugs and alcohol. Some big benefits include not feeling hungover in the morning, having money in your wallet and being saved the humiliation of being the part of embarrassing moments. When you focus on your recovery and initiate a plan to safeguard the sobriety that you have worked hard to achieve, you can work into a situation with your dignity and self-esteem intact.

Effective Drug Treatment Will Help You Gain Confidence in Your Recovery

People who are successful in their sobriety have one thing in common; they have the tools and support they need to be empowered and confident in recovery. As one of the premier drug treatment centers in California, First Steps Recovery provides all addicts with quality drug treatment programming, expert care and a compassionate treatment staff fully committed to helping addicts break the vicious cycle of drug addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, call the addiction professionals at First Steps Recovery today.

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