How to Avoid Relapse with Alcohol in Social Settings

March 3, 2023

Alcoholism requires long-term commitment and effort to overcome. Even after completing an alcohol addiction treatment program, social gatherings can be a trigger for relapse, as most people around you will have a drink on them. It’s important to utilize different methods of relapse prevention in order stay on track on your journey to sobriety, so we explain five ways to prevent alcohol relapse in social settings.

1. Plan Ahead

One of the most effective ways to prevent alcohol relapse in social settings is to plan ahead. Before attending a social event, it’s essential to plan what you’ll drink and how much you’ll consume. Having this plan can help you avoid impulsive decisions that could lead to relapse. For instance, you could opt for non-alcoholic drinks, like water, soda, or juice. Additionally, you could bring your own drinks or offer to be the designated driver.

It’s also important to plan how you’ll respond to potential triggers or peer pressure. You could rehearse a polite decline or diversion tactic, like changing the subject or excusing yourself. If the social event involves alcohol, consider bringing a sober support person or telling a trusted friend or family member about your concerns. Having someone to watch over you at a social gathering will make you think twice about taking a drink.

2. Build a Support System

Having a strong support system can be crucial to prevent alcohol relapse in social settings. Your support system can consist of family members, friends, or anyone you trust that understands you’re on your sober journey. It’s important to communicate with your support system regularly and let them know about your progress and challenges.

Always make sure your support system consists of people who push each other to stay sober. It’s essential to surround yourself with positive influences and avoid people who encourage or enable alcohol use. Building healthy relationships can be an essential component of recovery, and can help you make it through social situations.

3. Take Some Time to Yourself

If you need to step away from the crowd, don’t feel any shame in doing so! When you’re at a social event where alcohol is being consumed, it can be challenging to resist the temptation to drink, especially if you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or bored. Excusing yourself from the party for a brief period can give you the space you need to collect your thoughts and take a deep breath.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or triggered, stepping away can help you regain your focus and composure. You could take a walk, go outside for some fresh air, or find a quiet space to sit down. This brief pause can help you regain your sense of control and remind you of your reasons for staying sober. It can also give you the opportunity to check in with your support system. If nobody from your support system is at the party with you, you could call or text a trusted friend or family member who understands your situation and can offer you words of encouragement or advice.

4. Avoid High-Risk Events

While certain social events can be casual, others can be particularly high-risk for alcohol relapse, such as parties with heavy drinking, bars, or clubs. Therefore, it’s important to avoid or minimize exposure to such situations. For instance, you could suggest alternative activities, like going to the movies, playing board games, or having a picnic. Additionally, you could invite friends or family members to social events that don’t involve alcohol.

It’s not always possible to avoid high-risk situations entirely. You may also want to attend these events to get firsthand experience on how to navigate through urges to consume alcohol. If this is the case, it’s crucial to have a plan in place to minimize the risk of alcohol relapse. For example, you could limit your time in the situation, bring a sober support person, or have an exit strategy.

5. Take Care of Yourself

Above all else, remember to take care of yourself physically and mentally. Having good mental health greatly decreases the urge for alcohol or other mind-altering substances. This includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising regularly, and well as taking care of your mental health by practicing self-care, seeking professional help, and engaging in positive activities.

Additionally, prioritizing your recovery and setting realistic goals for yourself contributes to good mental health. Celebrating small successes and milestones can be an effective way to stay motivated, such as avoiding alcohol at a social event. If you’ve attended a social event and made it through alcohol-free, congratulate yourself and use that accomplishment as fuel to keep it up on your road to recovery!

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