Early recovery can be such a precarious and emotionally strenuous time. Addiction specialists recommend that those who have recently completed inpatient treatment transfer directly into a sober living environment. Sober living houses (also frequently referred to as halfway houses) offer newly sober men and women the opportunity to adjust slowly to drug and alcohol-free living. Living with drinkers is not a good idea for people that have recently become sober.
When it comes to transitional housing, residents are housed with several other sober individuals and are provided with 24-hour support from sober staff members that live in the house as well. In most cases, sober living houses provide a good amount of structure – they implement a curfew, require daily (or near-daily) 12-step meeting attendance, and mandate residents to get a job within a certain time frame.
If a newly sober individual returns to his or her previous living environment directly after rehab, the chances of relapse increase significantly. Because early recovery is such a fragile time, emotional and mental triggers may push an individual over the edge. So then, do people in recovery need to live with other sober people for their entire lives? Or will there come a time when they can safely live with drinkers?
The Mental Obsession for Alcohol
It is believed that addicts and alcoholics suffer from a mental obsession – they obsess over chemical substances, and uncontrollable compulsion leads them to use or drink repeatedly. This mental obsession is extremely powerful – however, it can be successfully overcome, and it can be overcome in the long-term. How? Most recovered addicts and alcoholics will agree that in order to heal their body, mind, and soul, they needed to go through some variation of 12-step programs – either Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, most commonly.
One of the 12-step promises is relief from the mental obsession. There has been an overwhelming amount of proof that this method of recovery does actually work, and that the promises do ultimately come true. However, it is important to remember that everyone’s timeline is different. Some recovered alcoholics may be able to work as a bartender with no temptation at all after one short year, for example. Other recovering alcoholics may not feel comfortable being around alcohol for five years – simply because the possibility for temptation isn’t worth the risk.
Am I Ready to be Around Alcohol?
How do you know you’re ready to live with drinkers or be around alcohol at all? Here are several rules to follow to ensure that you don’t potentially put yourself in harm’s way.
- Be honest with yourself — Honesty is truly the best policy, especially when it comes to maintaining long-term sobriety. Be honest with yourself when it comes to living with people (or a person) that drinks. Do you feel completely comfortable? Or do you still have some reservations? Don’t jump into anything that you aren’t sure of.
- If you feel uncomfortable, abort the mission — If you do decide to take the plunge and you realize that you may have made the wrong decision, there is absolutely no shame in changing your mind and backing out. Do what’s right for you – we all make mistakes!
- You don’t have anything to prove to anyone — If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, your ego may be eager to prove that you’re stronger than your urges. Remember that addiction is a relapsing brain disease – it isn’t about will power. Not at all.
- Recovery comes first — Your recovery ALWAYS comes first. So long as you remember to keep your priorities straight, you will be alright.
If you are interested in addiction recovery, or if you have been sober for a while and you’re looking for additional support or guidance, we at Garden State Treatment Center are available to help! Get in touch at your convenience, and our team of experienced and compassionate professionals will offer you all of the guidance you need.
How to stay sober while living with alcoholics?
Staying sober while living with alcoholics can present unique challenges, but it is possible with the right strategies and support. Here are some suggestions to help you maintain your sobriety in such an environment:
- Establish Boundaries: Clearly communicate your boundaries and expectations regarding alcohol use to the individuals you live with. Let them know that you are committed to your sobriety and ask for their understanding and support in refraining from drinking in your presence.
- Create a Supportive Network: Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, or a recovery community. Attend support group meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or seek out sober social activities to connect with others who share your commitment to sobriety.
- Find a Sponsor or Accountability Partner: Consider finding a sponsor within a recovery program who can provide guidance, support, and accountability. An accountability partner or sober friend can also help you stay on track and provide support during challenging times.
- Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care activities that promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Engage in activities that reduce stress, such as exercise, meditation, hobbies, or spending time in nature. Taking care of your overall health can strengthen your resilience and reduce the temptation to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism.
- Develop Coping Strategies: Identify healthy coping strategies to manage stress and cravings. This could include deep breathing exercises, journaling, practicing mindfulness, or seeking professional therapy to address any underlying issues that may contribute to the desire to use alcohol.
- Educate Yourself: Learn about addiction, recovery, and coping strategies through books, articles, or online resources. Understanding the science and psychology behind addiction can provide you with valuable insights and tools for managing your own sobriety.
- Seek Professional Help: If living with alcoholics becomes too challenging or jeopardizes your sobriety, consider seeking professional guidance. A therapist or addiction counselor can help you navigate the situation and develop strategies specific to your circumstances.
Remember, staying sober is a personal journey, and it requires ongoing effort and commitment. Focus on your own well-being and surround yourself with positive influences and a strong support system. Reach out for help when needed, and know that you have the strength to maintain your sobriety despite the challenges of living with alcoholics.