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What to Do When Friends Lead You Astray

Posted in Alcoholism

A very common and difficult situation involving drinking occurs when your own friends inadvertently lead you astray. What can you do in these situations? First of all, don’t panic. Recognize that there will undoubtedly be occasions when your well-meaning friends will offer you alcohol, consume alcohol in your presence, and even get drunk while you are there. Depending on whether or not they know you are trying to avoid alcohol, or have quit drinking altogether, this may just be an oversight on their part. Sometimes, however, it may be a deliberate attempt to get you to drink.

It’s important to recognize that once you’ve made the decision to stop drinking, or have already quit altogether, you have committed to a change in lifestyle. This may also mean that your social obligations will change. You may need to find new friends, ones that are more like-minded or who do not drink. This is a tough resolution to follow, but one that may very well be necessary.

Otherwise, here are some suggestions for what you can do when friends lead you astray.

  • Avoid situations where friends are drinking – If you know that your friends will be consuming beer or hard liquor, avoid the occasion completely. Give them a reason: you’ve made other plans, you just don’t feel like going, or, you don’t feel like drinking. This last comment may provoke some resentment on the part of your friends who feel like you’re abandoning them. Don’t actually tell them that if you don’t feel you can handle it. The key is not to put yourself in a situation where you’ll be tempted to drink.
  • Drink non-alcoholic beverages – Try a special juice with carbonated water, or your favorite juice. Drink iced tea with lemon or lime. Drink water. It’s important to remain hydrated, especially in hot weather or during strenuous exercise. If anyone comments on your choice of non-alcoholic beverage, simply say that it’s better for your health, that you’re watching your caloric intake, or some other reason.
  • Eat food – When your friends are downing alcoholic beverages, put some food in your mouth instead. Better yet, especially if the food is appetizing, encourage them to eat as well. By eating, you’re satisfying an urge – and keeping your body free of the effects of alcohol. You will feel full, and less guilty. It’s a better way to cope. Do not accept an alcoholic drink, even if you intend to just leave it there. The temptation is too great that you will eventually pick it up and drink.
  • Engage in other activities – What we’re talking about here is distracting yourself from the likelihood that you’ll drink. Take a walk or hike, engage in a sports activity (as long as no alcohol is consumed), help others prepare a meal, such as a picnic lunch or barbecue.
  • Get involved in conversation with others not drinking – Look around your gathering of friends. There are certainly those who are not drinking alcohol at all. Strike up a conversation with them and stay engaged in it. Really listen to what they are saying. The time will pass, and you will learn something new in the bargain. Maybe you will even discover that you have a new and stronger friendship with the individual.
  • Remind yourself of the benefits of not drinking – It’s normal to wonder about whether or not you’ll be able to avoid drinking when in the presence of others, especially friends, who are consuming alcohol. Remind yourself of the benefits of not drinking. This will help you counter the temptation (by yourself and others) to pick up a beer or a cocktail.
  • Reassure yourself your feelings are temporary – When your thoughts seem directed like a laser beam toward drinking, reassure yourself that the temptation you feel is only temporary. Give it enough time and they will go away – especially if you engage in a distracting technique like conversation with other non-drinking friends, physical or creative activity.
  • Journal – If the occasion is one where you can go off by yourself, use the opportunity to write in your journal. You can put on paper what you are feeling, what you are doing to overcome the urge to drink, even chart out suggestions that occur to you for coping strategies you can employ in the future. This is a positive step and, while you’re journaling, you’re being creative and assisting yourself in your desire to quit drinking.
  • Make new friends – If all else fails and your current friendships continually lead to situations where you find yourself encouraged to drink, it may be time to find new friends. After all, you’re embarking on a totally different lifestyle, one that is not dependent on alcohol for having a good time. You need to discover new individuals who can share your enthusiasm for an alcohol-free lifestyle. This is an exciting opportunity to forge new relationships. Embrace it.