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Can I Drink Socially While in Recovery?

One of the most frequent questions people ask during treatment is whether they will have to stop using certain substances forever. They may wonder whether they learn how to use it in moderation or drink socially in certain situations like while watching sports. Many people also wonder if they will never have fun again. These questions may surface for you when you’re thinking about your recovery and examining what it will mean in your life.

While abstinence is always the best choice, the reality is that desire or peer pressure can cause you to question the need for abstinence. This article will explore social aspects of recovery, being flexible with your definition of sobriety, and how that flexibility plays a valuable role in your life.

What Is Your Definition of Recovery?

Perceptions of recovery are different for everyone. Exploring what recovery means to you is important before you make your next life decision. It’s important to know that there is a consensus among most recovery groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) that abstinence is essential for recovery.

Maybe you are struggling with the definition of recovery because it has changed since you returned home. Perhaps you are lonely and want to drink socially to connect. Whatever your reasoning is, here are several ways to figure out your definition of recovery:

  • Set goals
  • Determine your values
  • Practice gratitude
  • Explore your passions
  • Pay it forward

If you are struggling with your definition of recovery, The Guest House can guide you to create your own meaning of recovery. The Guest House can also provide helpful connections during this part of your journey.

A Desire to Drink Socially as an Obstacle in Recovery

Several things contribute to a person’s addictive tendencies. Many people in treatment show their addictive tendencies early on in their lives. These behaviors may manifest in shopping, exercise, binge eating, gambling, and more. A person who exhibits these behaviors will continue to engage even if the outcomes are negative. Sometimes these outcomes are hard to acknowledge and therefore ignored.

Although you may or may not have an alcohol addiction, addiction is a real sequence of events. The brain is triggered to remember the “feel-good” substance and how that affects your body. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol is dually reinforcing because it can activate the brain’s reward processing system that mediates the pleasure center. It can also reduce the activity of the brain’s systems that mediate negative emotional states such as stress, anxiety, and emotional pain.

The brain is the mediator between repeating behaviors that produce a pleasurable experience versus eliminating behaviors that create a negative outcome. This role of the brain explains the varying level of alcohol consumption between individuals and why some people can drink socially and others cannot.

Your Recovery Plan Can Help You Not Drink Socially

Take a moment and think about when you were in treatment and your relapse prevention plan. Identify your needs and where your struggle originates. Your recovery plan will outline the people, places, and things that could cause a relapse for you.

It may be time to explore your thought process surrounding recovery and what that means to you personally. Perhaps your definition of recovery is to only have one drink socially while you are out and about. However, only you can determine whether this is a realistic plan or a formula for relapse.

What Is Your ”Why” for Social Drinking?

A positive and healthy sober support system is beneficial for creating a healthy long-lasting recovery. All too often, seeking connection is the reason for wanting to return to alcohol use. You may say that you want to be a part of a group or to feel accepted by your peers. Acknowledging your “why” for wanting to engage in such activities is important for understanding whether or not this choice is for you.

When it comes down to it, you may have solid reasons for wanting to drink in recovery. You may think it will help you feel normal or it will relieve some of the stress you are experiencing. However, it is important to understand that treatment is designed to equip you with the skills to achieve stress relief and connection on your own without a mind-altering substance.

Don’t Lose Hope, You Are Not Alone

You are never alone in this journey of recovery. At The Guest House, we strive to meet you right where you are at. That is why we offer treatment for every walk of life. You do not have to have anything specific, just a willingness to engage and be present.

Individual counseling can help you create a recovery plan that will be molded to your specific needs and help you to explore areas in your recovery where you are struggling. Even if you have been in recovery for a while, The Guest House can assist you through the alumni program. You will be greeted and accepted by people who struggle with the same things as you and who understand. Don’t lose hope; you are never alone in this fight.

Being in recovery can feel lonely. You may have many questions about your recovery. Abstinence is the best choice for most people’s recovery. However, that does not mean it is your choice. There are all forms of recovery and you know best what truly works for you. Just as you are unique and independent, so is your recovery. This can be a hard road, but you can learn how to adjust to your lifestyle with positive support. At The Guest House, we understand the difficulty of sobriety and how that can affect your daily life. If you or someone you know is struggling, do not hesitate to give us a call today at (855) 483-7800.