Recovery is a lifelong endeavor that is not finished when you leave treatment. Treatment does not guarantee you will never be triggered again. Nor does treatment guarantee that others will be so supportive that you will never have to avoid events that might trigger you.
Upon leaving treatment, you will be faced with social situations that you will have to relearn how to navigate. Family gatherings during holidays and group events to celebrate birthdays or anniversaries are just a few examples of some large social events you will have to face. Understanding how to navigate these social situations can help you avoid relapse from being around possible triggers. Also, you need to understand your limitations and be prepared to manage your boundaries.
3 Coping Skills for Social Events
#1. Have a Support Person
Knowing in advance of these social gatherings allows you to take someone with you. This someone might be a friend or family member who knows about your struggles with alcohol or other substances and wants to see you have a successful recovery, as well as enjoy the party. Taking a supportive person gives you accountability and someone with whom to talk about triggers either at the event privately or afterward when you may be struggling with urges to relapse. You need and deserve support at these events.
#2. Have a Plan
Going to social events without a plan to deal with triggers will set you up for triggering emotional responses or a relapse into old behaviors. Having a plan to leave if a trigger arises or setting a certain amount of time you will stay will help you maintain boundaries for your personal wellness. Setting boundaries is one of the key elements to success in recovery. Having boundaries with friends and family members — and, ultimately, yourself — will enable you to have a safe and successful recovery in the face of social events.
#3. Be Positive
Social gatherings are not always going to trigger you. Some social gatherings can be really fun and help you understand that you are not alone. Spending time with loved ones or even new friends in safe locations will boost your confidence in your ability to recover. Having these fun and relaxing gatherings is proof that you have other options to enjoy yourself. Not all gatherings will be negative or triggering. This concept is important to remember as you enter recovery from alcohol or substance abuse outside of treatment.
Social gatherings can be triggering, especially if you are unable to avoid some of your previous triggers. Avoiding people, places, and things is essential but cannot always be done when at family events. However, if you have completed treatment, you already know some of those triggers and can be prepared for them. Understanding that you are at risk for relapse in these situations helps you avoid it by making you aware of potential problems that might arise in social situations.
Avoiding social gatherings is not always a viable option. As humans, we were created to be social creatures. We are not meant to traverse this life alone. The key to navigating life is to find sources of social support that are uplifting and hold us to a higher standard.
When you go to a 12-Step meeting, you have practice engaging with large groups of people. These meetings are safe and intended to provide you with that group support you need in navigating life’s ups and downs. When you reach out for a sponsor, you ask for even more support. You deserve to have people in your life who support you. Your Higher Power does not desire for you to be alone.
When you attend social gatherings, be aware of those people who will support you and those who are not supportive. If you know a gathering is full of triggering people and situations, you might want to avoid that event. However, avoiding all social gatherings is not a long-term solution. At the beginning of recovery, understand that you are vulnerable and practice strong judgment in how you go about attending social events. Reach out to your sponsor or someone supportive in your life to help make decisions about attendance at these events.
Man was not meant to be alone, but you need to practice good judgment to avoid relapse. When you are considering attending social events or planning to be around people, be careful that those events do not involve alcohol or other substances early in your recovery. You are valuable, and your recovery is valuable to you. Do not put yourself in a situation where you may be triggered just to make other people more comfortable. Your values are equally as important.
Leaving the protection of treatment means facing new triggers, especially in the form of social events. While man was not meant to be alone, you need to be cautious in the early stages of recovery not to set yourself up for relapse. Reaching out to your sponsor or a fellow recovery member will help you stay safe and avoid a relapse into the use of alcohol or other substances. At Renaissance Ranch, we provide support for every stage of recovery, whether you are just beginning or are an alumnus. We provide a sober living home, outpatient treatment (in-person and online), and brotherhood for those who have completed treatment. We know the value of having support and offer it for every stage of recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, reach out to Renaissance Ranch. We offer a variety of services to ensure your recovery success. Call us today at (801) 308-8898.