In an ideal world, your family and friends should be overwhelmingly supportive when you commit to sobriety. Your closest relations can serve as an important reminder of why you want to get sober and can help you identify the signs of relapse earlier than you might notice them yourself.
However, perhaps you’ve experienced some of your less supportive peers trying to pressure you into drinking again. This type of peer pressure can really impact your commitment to a sober lifestyle, especially if you’ve struggled with alcohol abuse and are finally on the path towards sobriety.
You can resist peer pressure and navigate tricky social settings while staying sober by practicing assertiveness and cultivating a supportive circle. Modeling this type of behavior can increase your self-esteem and help you commit to saying “no” when folks are trying to pressure you into a pint.
Creating a Support Circle
If you’ve been through a period of sustained sobriety after addiction, you already know the value of a support group. A group of trusted friends and family can give you the emotional support you need when you feel yourself inching towards a relapse.
If you’ve recently encountered some peer pressure to drink, reach out to a trusted friend or family member who understands the journey you’ve been on. Tell them what happened, where you are, and whether or not you’d like immediate help. Never feel ashamed to reach out, as your real friends would much rather pick you up from a work event or office party than see you hungover or facing legal repercussions the next day.
Reaching out to trusted friends can actually provide positive peer pressure. Positive peer pressure forms a powerful protective barrier and helps negate unpleasant experiences with people who want you to start drinking. Ideally, these folks should help you make other positive lifestyle changes that minimize your risk of relapse and occupy your time. For individuals needing added accountability, Soberlink is a great resource. Soberlink is a remote alcohol monitoring system that allows you to send instant results to a trusted circle of specified individuals, helping you reinforce positive peer pressure in your life.
Designed for ease-of-use, Soberlink tests are scheduled, helping to reduce testing anxiety and create a routine. Devices also have facial recognition and tamper detection built-in, helping to rebuild trust with the submission of each test.
Changing Your Lifestyle
Making lifestyle changes when you become sober is key. You most likely can’t afford to spend your evenings twiddling your thumbs in the early days of recovery and shouldn’t have to go to a bar to see your friends. Instead, try to reduce the risk of experiencing peer pressure by replacing bars with healthy activities like running, weightlifting, or cycling.
Start small when making lifestyle changes to dodge peer pressure — you don’t need to become an Olympian overnight. Instead, focus on meeting the minimum exercise recommendations for adults like:
- Aerobic activity: Get your heart rate up a few times a week with activities like brisk walking, jogging, and cycling.
- Strengthening exercises: Resistance training and weightlifting twice a week can improve your health and reduce your risk of age-related conditions like osteoporosis.
- Balance: Activities like yoga can help you destress while working on your balance. You can meet new people and widen your friendship circle while in class, too.
Regular exercise gives you something to look forward to other than drinking. Knowing you have a run scheduled in the morning can help you fight off peer pressure and give you a good excuse to say “no” when people are trying to buy you a drink.
Assertiveness doesn’t come naturally to many people. Many of us are hardwired to say “yes” when someone offers to buy us something or asks if we’d like to go out. However, you must learn that practicing assertiveness is necessary, not rude if you want to stay sober.
Increase your assertiveness by positively reframing your addiction journey. Reframing your relationship with addiction can help boost your self-esteem and help you regain a sense of control over your choices. Boosting your self-esteem can help demonstrate to others that you won’t be bullied into drinking again, too.
It’s important to note that assertiveness doesn’t always lead to conflict and arguments. Sometimes, being assertive simply means that you do not respond to requests for a night out or cut heavy drinkers out of your life entirely. Remember, you do not have to justify your decision to folks who pressure you into drinking again. Instead, consider limiting or ceasing contact altogether if you feel that a former friend is putting unnecessary peer pressure on you.
Everyone has their own set of triggers that can snap them back to a time when they were reliant on alcohol. Avoiding these triggers when in social settings is key if you fear that your friends and family might peer pressure you into drinking again.
Increase your chances of overcoming triggers by better managing stress in your personal life. Destressing can help keep you mentally sharp and alert when others are starting to drink around you. This is essential during early recovery, as sobriety fatigue can increase your risk of relapse.
Start by getting enough sleep. Sleep plays a pivotal role in your recovery and protects you against peer pressure to start drinking. However, many people struggle with sleep problems during recovery and suffer from some form of insomnia.
Increase your ability to resist peer pressure by addressing sleep stress directly. Create a relaxing routine before you go to bed and practice exercises like meditation, gentle yoga, and journaling. If you have stress dreams, jot them down and try to write a better ending. Consider reaching out to a counselor if your sleep is undermining your ability to resist peer pressure as trained medical professionals can give you the help you need.
Resisting peer pressure is a part of every person’s sobriety journey. Maximize your chances of staying sober by practicing assertiveness and eradicating bad influences from your life. Replace the time you would’ve spent at the bar exercising or relaxing with supportive friends or family. This will help build your support circle, increase your mental resilience, and help you say “no” when it matters most.