One of the most common problems in early recovery is struggling with friends who still drink, and it usually emerges when we first leave treatment. Unless you were the rare loner drunk that stayed at home, you probably had drinking buddies. Now you’re sober, they still drink, and they’re encouraging you to come out. Maybe you go out with them, maybe you don’t, but major anxiety ensues either way. And why wouldn’t it? First off, prepare for a few of your friends to not understand the concept of sobriety. I recall a quick story of when I first got sober:
I was only in recovery a few months when friends who still drank invited me to a nice restaurant for a birthday. They knew I just got sober, but when I got there, they ordered a bottle of wine for the table and someone handed me a glass.
“Dude, what’re you doing?”
“What? It’s just wine.”
He didn’t get it, and that’s okay. Some friends won’t get it, others will be super chill about it, and others will get downright uncomfortable. If you notice friends getting squirrelly when you talk about sobriety, chances are it’s bringing up similar personal issues they may have themselves that they aren’t ready to face. With that said, if you suspect some friends have addiction issues, try not to tell them about it. They may be years away from hearing the truth as you once were.
Stay connected when you get uncomfortable. Call your sponsor and other fellows before hanging out with drinking friends. Make a game plan before going to bars.
By Clint Fletcher, Editor-in-Chief, Recovery Club America