Friends Can Be the Biggest Trigger for a Recovering Alcoholic
For the alcoholic that is trying to quit or the alcoholic in recovery by far the hardest thing to overcome are triggers. Triggers are things that set into motion our prior drinking patterns such as when we drank, why we drank, where we drank, who we drank with and other things of this nature. Triggers are not just mental; they are incredibly physical as well. When an alcoholic is faced with a trigger they go through phases that can range anywhere from wanting a drink to feeling that they need a drink. In the physical sense, a person feeling the effects of a trigger can feel nervous, depressed, anxious, angry and uptight. Triggers can cause a person to relapse so easily and they are hard to avoid.
Triggers come in the form of the people we associate with drinking. If we had a select group of people that we drank with, anytime we see them, or even just talk to them on the phone, we can be faced with a trigger. In my own case I had to literally amputate everyone that I used to drink with because it was too easy for me to fall down the rabbit hole again. This is extreme, but if you aren’t strong enough to handle being around your friends that are drinkers without feeling like you need or want a drink this may be the extreme measure you have to take to avoid the triggers that are set off by being in this person’s presence.
Another solution is to ask for their help. Tell them what you are doing and why. If they are truly your friend they should support you and do everything they can to help you. The problem with this is the fact that people don’t like to drink alone so they set themselves in social situations where they are enabled by fellow drinkers to imbibe at will. This is also true of drug users. Enablers like to party and they want their close circle of drinking friends around them, thereby making it ok for them to drink freely without feeling guilty. If you chose to stay within your circle of friends that drink and are enablers, chances are the minute you tell them you quit drinking they will drop like flies. This isn’t always the case, but most alcoholics have a group of friends that are alcoholics themselves who don’t want to quit or don’t think they have a problem. Telling them you don’t drink anymore may seem like rejection to them. You are, in a sense rejecting their way of life, and in the broader picture rejecting them.
Removing yourself from a group of friends that still drink is one of the safest and most failsafe ways to avoid a relapse. It will be hard, but nothing about the uphill battle to sobriety on a long term basis, for life, is easy and you need to accept that you are going to have to make severe lifestyle changes. Losing enablers is one of the first steps a person in recovery or one who desires to quit should take. It comes down to your sobriety or your friends feelings. You have to run the risk that they may feel rejected and may be hurt. You should prepare yourself for that. In the end, when you are strong enough and far enough into your recovery you may be able to be around those people. You have to ask yourself what is more important, your sobriety and life or the other persons feelings? It’s a hard choice to make but in the end isn’t your life worth more to you than continuing on in a destructive pattern to spare your friends’ feelings?