Congratulations! You have completed your rehab process, and you are newly sober. Through your hard work and determination, you are in that most coveted goal: recovery. Doesn’t it feel great to finally be clean? No more hangovers so bad you have to drink just to cure it. No more blacking out and winding up somewhere you have no memory of going to. No more DUIs and altercations with the law. No more wait – what about your friends? Here’s some bad news. Returning to the scene of the crime, so to speak, is more than a foolhardy idea. It can totally kill your sobriety, so read on since you need to find more about it.
Alcoholic friends perpetuate an alcoholic lifestyle. What did you learn in treatment about avoiding the triggers that cause you to drink? One of the most basic is to make drastic changes in your lifestyle. That means you can’t be around others who drink.
When you come out of rehab and are in recovery, the worst thing you can do is go back to the bar where you hung out 5, 6, or 7 nights a week. Yes, admit it. You probably spent most of your time in places where your so-called friends, drinking buddies, would bend your arm and tell the most outrageous stories. You’d tip back a few beers, followed by a chaser, then switch to hard liquor toward the end – as much as you can remember – before you’d slither out and hope to somehow make it home in one piece.
What do you think those drinking pals are doing right now? Hanging out, doing the same old thing is more than just a guess. It’s a near certainty. They didn’t want to quit, and they won’t, until and maybe when they are down on their knees realizing what a mess they’ve made of their lives.
And you think you can be around them? Not in the cards, not even remotely. Once you step foot back in that bar, that club, or hangout where your pals drink, you’re a goner. All your coping skills and techniques will be wiped away like the drink mark the bartender swipes with his cloth. When your pals encourage you to have a real drink, your coffee or tonic won’t suffice. You’ll look enviously at their Ketel One on the rocks with anchovy-stuffed olive or the cheap whiskey chaser after an ice-cold beer. Pretty soon, faster than you think, you signal the bartender to pour you one.
But one’s never enough, not for an alcoholic. In no time flat, you’ve relapsed. You’re right back in the alcoholic lifestyle you worked so hard to escape. There’s just no getting around it. Those drinking buddies are toxic to your sobriety. Just being in the same room with them can kill your newly clean and sober life.
You don’t want that to happen. But what can you do about it? Without question, you need help, and you can make use of your support system at this stage. So, the best place to turn is your support group, either Alcoholics Anonymous or another non-step support group you joined and participated in regularly following your release from treatment. If you haven’t yet joined, do so immediately. These are people who know what you’re going through since they’ve been there themselves.