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Alcoholism: Losing Old Friends to Stay Sober

Alcoholism, like many addictions, is a disease of reinforcement. When you take drugs or alcohol, you feel better and when you stop drinking, you miss the feeling. By this same mechanism, the people you associate with can start to reinforce your drinking behavior.

Even though, for many, alcoholism ends up being a disease of solitude and loneliness, but it could start off completely differently. The divorced alcoholic that drinks half a bottle of whiskey every night before going to bed, probably started off drinking socially with friends.

That is not to say that everyone you might drink with is an alcoholic, but when trying to recover, it is wise to cut ties with people who could influence you to drink. If you have friends that you only saw on the weekends at the bar, these friendships reinforce your alcohol use. And when you’re trying to get sober, it can be challenging to be with these friends.

Aside from the obvious fact that you need to have great self control to be around other people drinking and not drink yourselves, often times your friends can try to persuade you to drink. This doesn’t make them bad people. It can be hard for someone who does not suffer from alcoholism to understand the disease. Most of the time, these friends just want you to be having fun with them.

Even if you are completely committed to getting sober once you’ve realized you have a problem, being around other drinkers can be too hard and lead to relapse. You might find yourself faced with a choice between sobriety or your friends. Usually, you end up either leaving these old noxious friendships behind and getting better, or maintaining your friendships and potentially giving up to alcoholism.

It is not easy to stop being friends with people. Some, when faced with this situation, just slowly phase out those old friendships. But this can be hard to do. It also helps to talk to your friends and try to make them understand the nature of your condition and why you cannot be around them when they’re drinking. This can cause a lot of fights, but in the end your real friends will see you through your recovery and those that only wanted the fun drunk you get phased out.

The important thing to remember is that you need to do what is best for you when you’re trying to recover. Friendships are great, but not if they are damaging your health and your body. Being sober trumps good times with your old drinking buddies.
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source: Associated Content

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