Addressing our struggles with alcohol and other drugs can be very challenging. It can be especially difficult when we aren’t feeling supported by those people who are close to us. Having people in our lives who push substances on us, or try to make us feel bad when we choose not to partake, is something many of us encounter. How can we deal with people who seem to want to sabotage our efforts to cut back or cut out drugs and alcohol?
Firstly, it’s important to set boundaries with the people in our lives around drug and alcohol use. Have an aunt who really puts the pressure on everyone to drink at holiday parties? It might be an idea to let her know in advance that you are not going to be drinking at that upcoming party for your health. Ask that she not offer you alcohol. Meet up with a friend and they offer you some marijuana? A simple “No thank you, I’m not smoking right now” can do the trick (although not always). What our boundaries look like, and how firmly we have to set them certainly may vary, but setting boundaries with those we love really is the first and most important step.
Secondly, it is important to think about why we are making these changes. What truly is the motivation for doing what we are doing? What will the benefits be? When we are solid in why we are making these changes (before temptation strikes), it becomes much easier to resist when those around us are tempting us. Sometimes, it can be helpful to keep repeating these benefits to ourselves when in challenging situations. This can actually look like a mantra. “I will feel better, I will be able to sleep, I will preform better at work if I don’t use” as an example. Often, writing down our ”whys” for doing something and keeping them somewhere we see it frequently can also be helpful for keeping us motivated.
Having a heart to heart with the people we love, and not only setting boundaries with them but also sharing why we are choosing to do what we are doing, can also be helpful. Sometimes, hearing all the important reasons we have for making these changes, rather then just hearing “no thank you” when offering something, really can help the people around us understand why we are making changes. Then in that understanding, begin to be more receptive and respectful of our choices. Certainly, this doesn’t mean everyone around us needs a lecture about why we aren’t using, but for those closest to us who we do feel comfortable sharing more with, giving them more information about why we are making this choice can helpful. Along with that, it can be very helpful to verbally enlist their support. Let them know how important it is to you to have their support in this endeavor, and be very specific about how they can be helpful.
That said, sometimes part of making these changes also means choosing not to put ourselves into tempting situations/people. For example, choosing not to attend a party if we know our desire to not use will not be respected by people there, may be the best choice. Have a friend that refuses to stop offering weed when you spend time together? Then not spending time with them, at least for the time being, is perhaps the best choice. This again comes down to boundaries. Enforcing our boundaries is as important as setting them in the first place! If we set a boundary and someone is not respecting that, then not spending time with them may be what’s needed at least in the immediate future. While it is wonderful to have the support of others, sometimes we may not, but standing in our belief that we are doing what's best for us is what truly matters.
Questions about support in sobriety or anything else related to drug and alcohol use or recovery? Feel free to get in touch!