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Can You Handle Happy Hour? Recovering Addicts Talk About Social Life (plus 5 fresh ideas!)

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Recovery from an addiction is a process that you must take one day at a time

And when you finally get to the point that you feel like you are ready to socialize with people who may or may not be sober, you could face this question, “Do you want to go to happy hour?” Whether or not you are prepared to answer the question really doesn’t matter so, it’s a good idea to anticipate the changes you will face after leaving rehab.

In order to avoid a relapse, it is important for someone in recovery to avoid even the slightest temptations of alcohol, or another drug of choice. Even the simple words “Happy Hour” can send someone in recovery over the edge and trigger them to take a drink. Because social situations are one of the biggest triggers for relapse in those with addiction, people in recovery must learn to enjoy social time without drugs or alcohol. This may require that the person in recovery takes on new habits, or hobbies so that they can develop relationships with new friends, relatives, or even community members as a way of taking on a new path.

The road to recovery isn’t easy, “Many addicts are under the misguided impression that drugs or alcohol are necessary to have fun,” says Dr. Rod Amiri, a psychotherapist and addiction specialist at Malibu Hills Treatment Center in Malibu, California. “To their surprise, these individuals soon learn there is an infinite number of people, places and activities to enjoy during their recovery.”

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3 Fresh Ideas for Fun Social Time During Recovery

  1. Make New Friends. Everything in life is easier when you have a friend to help you along the way. Consider just how good it feels to have someone know what you’re going through, and understand how hard it is for you to stay sober. That is what scientists say an effective drug treatment plan may depend on. In fact, the quality of an individual’s interpersonal relationships during rehab may be a significant factor in maintaining sobriety.1
  2. Try Yoga. During recovery, your stress levels can hit the roof. Not only do you have to stay sober, but you also have to find new ways to relieve stress at the same time. Yoga is a mindful based stress reduction exercise that uses gentle stretching, and breathing techniques to develop self awareness. Also known as mindfulness, this type of exercise has been shown in clinical trials as one of the most effective ways to slash stress.2

Beyond that, mindfulness has been shown to actually change your brain. One groundbreaking study revealed that a mindfulness practice was associated with positive changes in brain gray matter concentration – after just 8 weeks!3

  1. Try a New Workout. Any exercise can make you feel good, but having fun while you do a workout is the best way to ensure you will continue to exercise. Studies show that regular workouts are clinically linked to an increase in “feel-good” brain chemicals including serotonin and dopamine, to help you feel happy.

“One key thing when starting out is to give new things a try,” noted Amiri. “Start simple. Take an exercise class, join a book club, go hiking or biking, take an adult education class – or volunteer to be of service to others.”

Running became a fun, sober social group for Kimmie and Samantha. “We started wondering how to challenge each other. Sometimes we would race, or other times just go really slow and see how long we could keep going for endurance. Regardless of what we were doing while we ran, our 2-person sober running group was super-fun! And over time, just being able to hang out with someone else who is sober and happy about it really helped me to stop wanting to avoid people all the time. Even if we were working out!”

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How Can I Avoid Happy Hour?

Completing a traditional 12-step rehabilitation program is no simple task. So, never underestimate the power of temptation for someone who is new in their recovery. It can take just one small trigger to bring on loads of old memories, and desires to go back to their old ways.

“Even if you’re convinced you won’t have a drink, or you’ve abstained while hanging out with friends in the past, in most cases it is just a matter of time until you become convinced you can drink responsibly,” noted Dr. Amiri.

So, take it in all in now… and ask yourself, “Do you want to go to happy hour?” if the answer is yes, welcome to recovery! It’s a long road but it can be filled with the best moments life can offer if you just keep taking it one day at a time.

References:

1. Sharon M. Kelly, Ph.D., Kevin E. O’Grady, Ph.D. The relationship of social support to treatment entry and engagement: The Community Assessment Inventory. Subst

Abus. 2010 Jan; 31(1): 43–52.
2. Pascoe MC, Thompson DR. Yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction and stress-related physiological measures: A meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017 Dec;86:152-168.
3. Britta K. Hölzel, James Carmody. Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Res. 2011 Jan 30; 191(1): 36–43.

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