Social life is important for recovering individuals because it is beneficial for their emotional and mental well-being. When socializing, recoverees need to watch out for peer pressure that may trigger cravings.
Peer pressure is often thought of as something that mainly affects teens and adolescents. In reality, everyone can be vulnerable to negative peer pressure.
Peer Pressure Affects Everyone
Because most teens and young adults are experiencing a stage in life with a high rate of socialization, peer pressure can be particularly powerful. College students and young professionals who are recovering from substance addiction should be aware of the widespread substance use culture around them. Before attending social occasions, they need to think ahead to avoid potential problems.
Other age groups who are in recovery may also face peer pressure. For example, parents may participate in community social activities that present tempting substances that can begin substance abuse problems or cause relapse. Colleagues at work may pressure individuals into thinking that one-time use is manageable. Even experienced health professionals may need to stay alert while finding ways to unwind and relax.
Triggers in Social Life
Recovering individuals may have long been associated with people who also use substances. The all-consuming addiction has dominated their life to the extent that seeing these people or visiting certain places may trigger the memory of substance use and lead to temptation. This association occurs because the brain’s pleasure system has been reshaped to make such associations with substance-induced pleasure.
Recovering individuals should not isolate because loneliness and boredom can also trigger cravings and even relapses. When socializing, they need to pay special attention to people and places. They should learn to perform a mental screening, asking questions like, “Will there be alcohol and drugs on this social occasion?” “Are these people likely to be using?” and, “Is this location where I used to go and use substances?” If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” it may be better not to go.
Coping With Peer Pressure
Even with planning ahead, social occasions can still present unexpected surprises. Resisting peer pressure should be practiced. For example, a recoveree can imagine and rehearse what they would do if someone offers them a drink. Practicing polite but effective excuses in advance is recommended. This visualization exercise can help people cope with many possible stressful situations.
The bottom line: A recoveree should not go into a social event without being mentally prepared. If a recoveree foresees the challenge of peer pressure in a certain event that they do not have the option of not attending it may be a good idea to bring a sober companion. This can be a supportive family member, friend, a sponsor from a support group, or a sober escort. These people serve as a reminder of the intention to stay sober and provide extra accountability.
Resisting by Setting Healthy Boundaries
The journey of recovery is full of hard choices. It is critical for a person in recovery to learn how to say no. For example, a previous using partner may try to persuade their friend to give up recovery because it is hard work. This is a direct violation of the recoveree’s determination. The recoveree, having learned to say no, may prevent a relapse.
At the same time, the recoveree should remain compassionate in not projecting judgment and criticism on their previous using partner because shame and stigma can perpetuate addiction. Instead, they may share their personal reasons why they are refusing. If the recoveree does spend time around old friends with substance addiction, they should set boundaries while respecting others.
Expanding Your Social Circle
People can lose friends when they quit drugs and alcohol. However, recovery also allows them to make new friendships while staying sober. Connections can be made with many other sober people through their treatment center.
Recoverees may be encouraged to join community services, where new friends can be made. It is essential that they prioritize sobriety when forming new friendships. A sober person’s social life can be deepened by reconnecting with old friends who follow a healthy lifestyle. Dealing with peer pressure is a life skill that is developed over time. It takes great wisdom to pick who to befriend and how to deepen the connection.
Established recoverees should not withdraw just because socializing may present great challenges. People are constantly influenced by friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. It is vital for a person in recovery to set boundaries and practice self-care. They should explore how their social life affects their emotions. Coping with peer pressure can become a part of their self-discovery journey.
Are you aware that negative peer pressure may cause a lot of stress for you during recovery? Do you know how to cope, manage, or resist negative peer pressure? You need to stay connected to a strong recovery community for positive support. You can also work with recovery experts who can coach you on socializing skills that prioritize sobriety. At Casa Recovery, we have a group of experienced health professionals who specialize in supporting recovering individuals by addressing a wide range of issues in social life. We provide customized efficient and effective treatment methods that have been developed and applied in clinical settings. We also coach life skills so that clients can better transition to normal life without experiencing relapses. Our staff and sponsors can be your sober companions in necessary social events. Reach out now. Call today at (888) 928-2272.