One of the best strategies for staying sober is to avoid old friends who still use and make new friends who don’t. But even sober friends might have a drink or smoke a little marijuana in a social situation. Certainly, you can just be “too busy” for gatherings that take place in a bar or parties where you think there might be pot. But it’s tough to avoid having dinner or a barbecue with friends where there isn’t at least some wine or beer being served.
How do you just say no? The best strategy is to be ready with a few lines you’ve rehearsed in advance. Imagine yourself in various social situations where alcohol or drugs might be offered and think about how you’re most comfortable saying no. It might just be as simple as “No thanks,” or “No thanks, I don’t drink/smoke.” Practice saying your lines until they feel comfortable and natural.
Then, be prepared to go one step further: Have something else ready to say if you are pressured to take that drink or puff. Do you have to tell everyone you’re in recovery? Not if you don’t want to. You can simply say “No thanks” again and change the subject. You can say something like, “My doctor told me to cut back,” or “I’m really trying to get healthier and this is one way I’m doing it.” I fyou feel okay with it, you can also say, “I’m in recovery now and I’d really appreciate if you don’t endanger my sobriety.”
How much you do or don’t disclose about your situation is totally up to you. Think about what’s going to be comfortable for you to say, and then practice it until until it feels really natural you don’t have to even think about saying it.
And if your friends are pressuring you to drink or use, stop spending time with them. You don’t need to be around temptation, and you certainly don’t need to be pressured into relapse. But more than that, you need to have friends who respect who you are and how you choose to live your life. If you say, “No thanks, I don’t drink,” that should be it–no explanation needed, no questions to answer. Surround yourself with people who support you on your new path and their positive energy will speed you on your way.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach and author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.” She is the Life Coach on Celebrity Rehab on VH1 and has been an expert guest on CNN Headline News, Inside Edition, Fox News in San Diego, and KTLA News in Los Angeles. She has been quoted in the New York Daily News, the Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, E-online, and Elle online.