I would never tell someone relatively new to sobriety from alcohol and drugs to hang out at places were either were abundantly present. But that’s not true for those who have worked solid 12 Step programs, as one of the goals of recovery is to learn how to be around those things again without feeling the desire doing either.
The first few years of my own recovery were spent avoiding bars and parties where any type of alcohol or drugs were present. About the only place I ever was around either was at a bowling alley where I was in a league. I just didn’t feel strong enough yet to resist the temptation of being around all that energy of people who were still enjoying them.
Thankfully, that’s no longer true for me. I have no problem going to a bar or a party where people are doing things like drinking or smoking weed. In fact, I was at a gathering recently where both took place and I still had an immensely good time. But, I also set boundaries for myself, which is an important tool in recovery from an addiction. What that means is to know one’s limits and respect them. In my case, that meant leaving the party after spending four or so hours there, notably right around the time I started feeling myself become a little tempted to engage in some old behaviors.
Nevertheless, the point I’m making is that while it may be a healthy thing to initially avoid being around all the people and places that trigger a person into their alcohol or drug addiction, eventually everyone can find freedom through the 12 Step work to be around them again, except this time having healthy boundaries in place.
Healthy boundaries can include setting time limits of how long to remain in various places or be around certain people that may be triggering. It can also mean going with someone who is sober or even calling a sponsor before arriving and after leaving. And it can mean leaving a situation if certain conditions arise like when hard-core drugs show up.
However one chooses to set healthy boundaries for themselves, one should never spend frequent time around bars or people where alcohol and drugs are regularly present, no matter how short or long their time in sobriety is. Because that old saying still continues to prove its validity in that the longer one hangs around a barbershop, the more they are assured of getting a haircut.
Overall, the point I’m trying to make is that 12 Step recovery can and will help a person coexist in a world that will always be filled with alcohol and drugs. Today, I can coexist successfully amongst neighbors who occasionally drink and smoke pot. I can coexist successfully at parties and other social functions where both are present as well. And I can even coexist amongst friends and loved ones who like to have an alcoholic beverage here and there, such as when we’re out to dinner.
In the end, it all comes down to me being ok with it, because I’m ok with my recovery. I have the strength and foundation of a program under my belt and a Higher Power guiding it, whom I choose to call God, that constantly supports me and navigates me through life where alcohol and drugs will always be present. And that alone is one of the main reasons why I continue to stay active in my recovery, one day at a time, for over 22 years now…
Peace, love, light and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson