If you want to stop drinking heavily when you socialise, don’t socialise with other heavy drinkers!
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
But, in reality, how easy is it to leave one social circle, and join another?
“I was drinking excessively for eight years before I finally accepted that, unless I changed my ways, I was probably going to pay for my alcoholism with my life,” explains Angela, a 31-year-old Irish nurse working at Bedfordshire Hospital. “I desperately wanted to stop, or to at least massively cut down on my drinking, but my mates simply wouldn’t let me. I felt like I was in that film No Way Out!”
“I wouldn’t say I was completely ostracised, but when I stopped going out for a drink after work with my colleagues, I became isolated, no longer one of the girls. It was dreadful, to be honest, and sometimes felt like too high a price to pay for giving up alcohol.”
“It was only when I sought counselling as an outpatient at a Rehab treatment clinic in Luton that things began to change. At the clinic, they gave me brilliant advice on how to gain support for living a sober lifestyle.”
“I gradually made a new circle of friends, most of who don’t drink at all. The irony is that now some of my workmates are considering seeking help for their alcohol addiction! Yes; the same ones who as good as froze me out when I initially decided to tackle my alcoholism last year.”
Barry – a 33-year-old accountant in Cardiff – found himself caught in a similar situation three years ago, when he announced one day after rugby training that he was trying to give up alcohol and so would not be joining his team-mates for their usual post-match booze up at the club bar.
“Telling the lads that I’d decided to kick the booze was like announcing I’d opted to pack in rugby to take up knitting and needlepoint, to be honest!” Barry explains, in between sipping an orange juice at his local health club. “I was persona non grata for quite a while, which hurt like hell. But I knew deep down inside that quitting drinking was critical to both my physical and mental well-being. It had to be done.”
Both Barry and Angela gradually made new (non-drinking) friends by:
- Avoiding environments where alcohol is sold or offered
- Adopting a new structured healthy lifestyle (a balanced diet coupled with regular exercise)
- Focusing their minds on looking forward (personal goal-setting is a great way to do this!)
- Being realistic when setting those personal goals
- Helping others who also want to change their lives for the better (i.e. by quitting drinking) through working as volunteers for organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Drink Aware, and Alcohol Concern
- Using Rehab treatment aftercare support
It’s a gradual process
…As Barry explains:
“After returning home from a period of treatment at a private residential alcoholism rehab clinic, a brand new circle of teetotal supportive friends won’t suddenly appear. But, through beating your addiction, you will be ‘in the right place’ at long last to start building a new life, and to make connections with others who live a sober lifestyle.”
Do you feel trapped in a heavy drinking social circle and want to ‘escape’, but you’re worried about ending up lonely and isolated if you take that step?