How Can We Stay Sober Once Things Are Normal Again?
If you were lucky enough to get sober during the pandemic, the idea of going back to normal can seem like a daunting task. With everyone getting vaccinated and businesses opening back up, the temptation to drink will be present again, in conditions you can’t control anymore. So what can we do?
The takeaway from this is that you might need to treat this experience as if you’re going sober for the first time. Here are some tips and tricks for newly sober people and those who quit drinking during these unprecedented times.
Have conversations with those close to you about your sobriety
One of the first steps when you’re going sober under normal circumstances is to have a conversation with those that you’ll be hanging out with, especially those that you might have been drinking with before.
You might want to keep quiet about it and pretend like there’s nothing new in your lifestyle but there will be that pressure to drink again. You might feel compelled to drink and not mention that you’ve been sober if you don’t make it known. Putting it out there in the beginning not only helps you keep to your lifestyle, but also start the process of convincing people that you have really quit because we all know that in the beginning at least, people aren’t quick to believe that you’ve really gone sober.
I’ve also found that speaking to people I hang out with regularly significantly helped establish this change and those people were generally comfortable with it. If they aren’t, it’s a great time to think about the connections you’ve made with people and establish friendships that aren’t based on alcohol.
Look up the restaurant’s menu before
Oh, look. It’s that thing we haven’t been able to do for over a year now — go to restaurants.
But now that it’s becoming more of a thing of normalcy, it’s important to scope out your options when you’re alcohol free, especially if you’re newly sober.
Checking out the menu, the drink options, and the vibe of the restaurant you’re going to are key items to check off before going. If you’re newly sober, it might be okay to go to a sushi restaurant, but maybe a bar and grill might be something you can work your way back to. And if you’re okay with going to a bar, it’s good to make sure you can drink something there. I made the mistake of going to a live show when I was first sober and didn’t scope out the drink options. There was one water cooler, empty, and only carbonated soda, which the bartender begrudgingly gave me.
Take your time being social again
There’s no rule saying that just because things are opening up again, that you need to go back into the fray.
Take your time, and with the pandemic, it’s a great excuse if you don’t feel comfortable talking about your sobriety yet. You can choose to go out when you want to, and you don’t need to feel pressured by anyone or anything.
It’s generally recommended when you first quit alcohol to be careful about the events you go to in the first month and to avoid places that have large amounts of alcohol. Even if you’ve been sober for an entire year, I’d recommend treating the pandemic ending like you’re newly sober. This is an entirely new way that you’ll have to live in your sobriety, it’s best to take things slow and figure out what makes you happy and feel comfortable.
Speak with a mental health professional
If you went sober during the pandemic, you’ve done something that any of us who went sober before, have never experienced. We can give you all the guidance on how to approach relationships, eating out, and everything else with sobriety but this is a new experience that’s specific to you. You’re in new territory and having someone who can walk you through it can be essential to maintaining your sobriety.
Speaking with a mental health professional like a therapist can help you navigate these times that sobriety veterans haven’t even experienced.
I’ll always recommend speaking with someone regardless of what you’re going through but especially if you’ve just gone sober.
These tips are useful if you’ve just gone sober, been sober for a year, or have been sober for a decade. This pandemic has thrown us all into uncomfortable territory but like going sober, this is also something we will get through and come out better than before.