Establishments will open at full capacity on different dates depending where you live. But in the coming months, more people around you will go to bars. The pandemic has caused addiction rates to go up; still, several of the people I interviewed for our Sober Stories series said that not being able to go out provided a useful barrier to drinking.
There will be a lot of things to consider as the world begins the slow process of reopening; one is how to cope when you can go to spaces where lots of people are drinking.
Are You Ready to Be Around Alcohol?
First, it’s important to figure out if you’re ready. You may be new to sobriety—or you might be in long-term recovery but out of practice being around alcohol. Whatever your position, take some time to decide if going out will put your sobriety in jeopardy; your recovery should take priority.
If you don’t know, try talking with your therapist if you have one. They will have a more objective sense of where you are and what you might be able to handle. You can also try journaling with specific prompts like, “How do I imagine I’ll feel stepping into a bar?” “What will I do if someone offers me a drink?”
Continue Building Coping Skills as Preparation
You can also try journaling about ways you might cope if you decide to go out. This year has been filled with uncertainty, but we can say with some sureness that the end of lockdowns will eventually come. It’s important to plan what you will do when triggered, and to continue to practice those coping skills.
According to the Soberful podcast, “When lockdown ends, everything is going to be hugely exaggerated. That’s going to mean that your boundaries are going to have to be stronger than normal.”
It may feel that we’ve been out of practice on some interpersonal things this year, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, the pandemic has prepared many of us for difficult conversations; asking people to get tested before seeing you, or to wear masks around you, are boundaries.
The Soberful podcast goes on to say that you don’t have to worry about missing out on the celebrations. You just have to make a plan so that you can celebrate in a way that doesn’t hurt your sobriety.
Marking new freedoms and renewed hope is not reserved for people who drink. Recovery provides real joy and connection—and is itself cause for celebration.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will set you up with supports to thrive in long-term recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.