Choosing to become sober is empowering. But, it can also be overwhelming when you’re just starting and recognize the long road you have ahead of you.
There are plenty of reasons people choose to become and stay sober. Maybe you’ve struggled with substance abuse in the past. Maybe you have a family history of addiction or alcoholism and you want to avoid going down that path. You simply might not like the way drugs or alcohol make you feel. Your decision to live a sober life is a personal one. Unfortunately, the social aspect of it can cause challenges.
Knowing ahead of time what you might experience during your sobriety journey is important. It’s estimated that over 70% of Americans have had at least one drink in the last year. Trying to be a part of the other 30% will come with challenges. So, how can you navigate those waters, maintain a social life, and stay strong and confident in your decision to be sober?
Staying Strong in Your Convictions
Think back to when you were in high school. Chances are, you went to at least one assembly or had someone come into your class to talk about peer pressure. We all learn about it from an early age. You might have ignored how serious it was at the time because you didn’t think it would affect you. Many people also think peer pressure is something that affects kids and teens, not adults.
But, you can feel just as pressured into doing something when you’re grown up as you can when you’re a kid. That includes drinking or taking drugs.
That’s why it’s so important to know exactly why you want to stay sober. If you’re not firm in your convictions, it can be far too easy to waver and give in. Again, those reasons are personal. But, take some time to really think about them, and why they are meaningful to you. If you find yourself teetering back and forth and afraid you’ll cave under the pressure, consider some of the additional benefits of a sober lifestyle, including:
- The time and effort you’ve already put into it
- Knowing you’ll make better decisions in other areas of life
- Staying safer
- Maintaining relationships with people you love
- You might be someone’s role model
- You’ll have goals to work toward, which can lead to bigger accomplishments
Being sober will also improve your physical health. You’ll sleep better, your skin will look healthier, your memory improves, and you’ll have more energy. Even your eye health can improve because you’re less likely to have nutritional deficiencies. So, the next time you’re offered something, think about these reasons as well as any personal convictions that caused you to want to become sober in the first place. It will make saying “no” much easier.
Creating a Plan for Going Out
You don’t have to give up your social life or things you enjoy doing just because you’re sober. First, you have to develop the right mindset. Believe that you can have fun without drinking and that your friends won’t pressure you. When you develop a plan from that perspective, moving forward will be easier.
One of the best things you can do is to have an honest conversation with your friends. You can decide whether or not you want to share the reasons behind your decision. But, all they need to know is that you’re not drinking, and they need to be okay with that. Make sure they know you still want to hang out, but maybe it should be somewhere besides a bar or club for a while.
Hopefully, your friends will be supportive from the start. But, it’s important to prepare yourself for negative responses, too, including:
- Peer pressure
Those things will fade after some time, so you can continue to focus on your plan. There are plenty of ways you can make going out easier on yourself, from always having a non-alcoholic drink in hand (people will be less likely to question you if they see you drinking something) to entering each situation with a positive attitude. Your plan could also include trying new things with your friends. Take a fun class together, go camping, or head to a museum for the day. It will show everyone (including yourself) that you don’t need drugs or alcohol to have a good time.
Having a Strong Support System
Ideally, your friends will support your decision to live a sober lifestyle. But, if they don’t, it’s important to lean on people who will. Think about your health goals, including taking care of your physical and mental health rather than just giving up drinking or drugs. When you’re headed to social events, surround yourself with people who will help you reach those goals – a real friend is the one who will hand you a mocktail.
Leaning on your family is a great place to start when you’re looking for support. It also might be time to find some new relationships with other like-minded people. Thankfully, you’re not the only one out there trying to live a sober lifestyle! Check out other people at social gatherings who aren’t drinking, or look at message boards and groups online to find others in similar situations. It’s important to know you’re not alone so you can have the support you need to keep going.
Living your life as a sober person can be extremely rewarding, but it isn’t without its challenges. Keep these ideas in mind as you give up drugs and alcohol, and you can enjoy the benefits of your sobriety rather than worrying about what your social circle might think.
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