Leaving old habits behind might be challenging and tricky. If you used to mix alcohol with drugs, it can be really uncomfortable to go out again. Can night life ever really be the same? If you’re in recovery, you actually might want to pass it up for a while.
Being near the scene can be dangerous. Just exposing yourself to triggers can lead you to relapse. If you are in treatment, it’s highly advisable you stay away from direct triggers. Sounds. Smells. Images. These are the things that can jeopardize the effort and progress on your road to reaching and maintaining sobriety.
So how do you party when in recovery? Is it possible to have a good time without the influence of drugs and/or alcohol?
Of course you can. Keep reading further to find out how to protect yourself when the environment and people around you act as a temptation. Plus, read about alternative fun activities that do not include the use of alcohol and drugs. All your questions and/or personal experiences about partying without mixing alcohol and drugs are welcomed at the end.
Can I Party In Drug And Alcohol Addiction Recovery?
Recovery programs exist to teach addicts that sobriety is not boring! On the contrary, recovery opens up a lot of new opportunities. You just need to learn and practice some alternatives to bring you fun and joy without exposing yourself to danger.
Q: Who should refrain from partying?
A: If going out endangers your recovery, maybe you should stay home.
At least for now.
When you make a decision to quit mind-altering drugs, some situations are just not healthy. Seeing a set of friends who look like they are having fun. Or, hearing the sound a lighter hit glass. Or, listening to that song that brings back nostalgia and a desire to get high.
These are all triggers that might set off a desire for you to reach out for drugs and alcohol again.
Theoretically, there are two types of triggers:
1. Internal triggers, which usually manifest themselves as negative feelings.
2. External triggers, that include people, places, things, and situations that provoke you to get back to your old substance abusive behaviors after a period of abstinence.
When you are in early addiction recovery, you’ve just started developing a sober lifestyle. You aren’t quite used to feeling subtler emotions. We who are in recovery have all been through it. You’re used to getting high…and dealing with the lows. But, we just don’t have healthy habits ingrained into our brain pattern yet.
So, it’s best to avoid:
1. Parties at clubs where you used to drink alcohol or use drugs.
2. Acquaintances that still drink and take drugs.
3. Visiting places while you are in an emotional period where drugs and alcohol are expected to be present.
In fact, a night out can be super confusing. While it can be a learning experience, you need to be in a really stable place in early recovery. This is because hitting the night life can make you feel vulnerable. It might even lower your enthusiasm for change, or impact your self-esteem…both of which eventually may increase the possibility of relapse.
The Cycle of Craving
So, here’s a little deeper explanation into why you might want to wait. I’m not suggesting that you not have fun. I’m just saying that changing the way you have fun can be worth it.
Addiction triggers involve high-risk situations. They are viewed as stressors that spark a thought, feeling, or action which makes you desire drugs/alcohol over and over again. When a trigger strikes in you get a sudden and unexpected urge to use again, it’s called a “craving”. In short, addiction triggers usually lead you to cravings and cravings stimulate your urges to use.
This is why one of the main focuses of rehab is to teach you to become more aware of your specific triggers. Once you identify the trigger, you can learn how to control the sequence of events. Perhaps you can avoid the trigger totally. Or, you can learn how to change your related thought pattern. Or, maybe you intervene on the behavior-level.
This is possible only through education. If you learn successful craving or coping management skills, you’ll necessarily learn techniques for fighting craving in recovery.
Refusing an Offer
Learning to say NO takes a little practice. Relapse prevention tips and refusal lines are taught during every addiction treatment program. But we’ve noticed that you need to actually practice these lines BEFORE you’re in a tight spot. Here are some suggestions about what you can say/do in different situations.
1. First, go to events where there are no drugs and alcohol.
2. Second, connect with friends who support your decision not to use drugs. Ask for support from these friends when others become pushy in their offerings.
3. When in a problematic situation, make an excuse to leave. Just get out of there.
When you are offered with drugs or alcohol, use definitive refusal lines such as:
No, thank you.
I have some medical issues right now.
I made the mistake in early recovery of trying to “explain it all”. No one who’s using wants to hear why you’re not using. They just want you to join them so that they can feel less alone.
So, the bottom line is that you don’t feel like you need to explain yourself. No one needs to “get it.” They probably don’t want to.
The sober community has many members. Most of us know what it’s like to wake up the next morning, blacked out. But just because we’re not using doesn’t mean that we’ve lost the will to have fun. Recovery is about building a new life, one that drugging and drinking parties are not a part of any more.
If you want an alternative way to party, think about hosting your friends at your house. You can be the host of a sober party. You don’t need to socialize with just people in recovery. But make sure people know that substances are off limits.
Some people like board games. Other people just party around food and music. Still others meet and then go to an event together. Whatever. Just get some people together and find something you all like to do. Talk to people at the party and connect. That’s more than a party; that’s creating a community.
Or, find hobbies that don’t involve alcohol/drugs but are still entertaining such as: table sports, darts, card games, going to the zoo, or to the movies. Dancing is one of most recommended ways lifting your mood.
Finally, be prepared. If you’re going to an event where psychoactive substance will be present…resolve to:
Choose mocktails instead of cocktails.
Use your refusal lines.
Plan an escape if temptations gets too great.
At some point, mixing alcohol and drugs gets old. It leads you down that same dead end.
But maybe you have questions about what you’ve just read. Maybe you have an experience to share? Feel free to leave your comments below. Me and my team will make sure to get back to you with a personal and prompt response.