Ask an Addict: Returning to Social Life After Going Sober

This article is not meant to diagnose or provide medical advice—that responsibility lies with physicians. The author is not a licensed medical professional.

The advice column formerly known as Ask Katie is now over at Paste Magazine as “Ask an Addict” (spoiler alert: I’m the addict). Hope you enjoy!

Addiction is an issue that impacts almost everyone in some way. I’ve been in recovery from alcoholism/addiction since January 2008. During that time, I’ve gone through ups and downs but have fortunately managed to stay sober. I’ll be answering a reader-submitted question about recovery every other week (information on how to submit below). I’m not an expert or mental health professional, just a sober person offering advice based on my experience and the research that’s available. This week, I’m talking about getting comfortable with the social changes that happen after getting sober. Sure, you can have fun in sobriety, but what happens when your concept of fun changes?

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Dear Katie,

Two weeks ago, I completed a 28-day inpatient treatment program. I’ve accepted that I am an alcoholic and I’ve found a meeting that I enjoy attending. My friends and family are very supportive of my getting sober and have been great about inviting me out to do non-drinking related things. I used to be very social, but I’m just not feeling that excited about going out anymore (and when I do go out, I feel weirdly on edge). Is this something I am going to get over or is it just part of being sober?

From, Hermit

Dear Hermit,

Congratulations on your sobriety. Nothing is easy when you first get out of treatment and it’s great that you’ve found a recovery group that you feel comfortable in. It’s hard to overstate the importance of this, so well done on setting up this foundation for yourself.

The whole “being social in sobriety” thing can be complicated but before we get into that, I want to say something that might sound condescending but is also true: early sobriety is bananas. Engaging with the world as a newly sober person is exciting, confusing, terrifying and any other adverb you can think of, all at the same time. You won’t always feel as though you’ve wandered through the looking glass, but if you are feeling that way, it’s to be expected. It’s also why it’s so good that you have a recovery support group with whom you can commiserate about this process. Studies show that having social support in recovery increases the likelihood of a person staying sober. The key word, however, is support. Social connection is primarily valuable when the social group is supportive of your recovery. (continued)

 

Every other week I will answer one recovery/addiction related question posed by readers, based on my experience. Email questions to pasteaddict@gmail.com with Ask Katie in the subject. By emailing, you are agreeing to let Paste publish your email. Emails may be edited for length.

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