If you find that your addiction recovery is being questioned, there are a few simple ways you can respond in certain situations.

Rehabilitation facilities for addiction recovery, such as sober living homes or residential programs, can be a much-needed escape from situations or environments that trigger substance use. However, the return to day-to-day life usually happens at some point, and this can be difficult for many people. When going back to school or work, you’ll see a lot of people you knew before sobriety.

During early recovery stages, facing the past can seem overwhelming. Though you’ll now have strategies for overcoming certain situations and triggers, you’ll still find yourself faced with them. People may invite you to use drugs or ask you why you no longer want to use substances with them. These situations can lead to relapse, so figuring out how to navigate them when they occur is key. Here are a few tips for explaining your newfound sobriety.

Going Back to School

When going back to middle school or high school, you’ll inevitably see people you know. People you’ve used drugs with in the past may invite you to continue these old habits, which is when you need to make it clear that you no longer use substances. You could just say no instead, but they may continue asking, and this negative peer pressure can push you into a relapse. Other situations, such as a high school party, can also create pressure to use drugs.

Though you can make excuses about why you are sober, your school friends are people you see often. You may need to tell them, firmly and directly: “I no longer drink or use drugs. Please respect that.” If they are truly your friend, they should be supportive of your decision to lead a substance-free life. By being honest, you might even help others come to terms with their substance misuse or addiction.

During recovery, support from friends and loved ones is important. If your old friends do not support your recovery, it may be a good time to find new ones who will be better influences.

New to College

Going to college is a big change that brings a brand-new environment full of potential friends and opportunities. However, there is a lot of peer pressure among college students to use substances in fraternities, sororities and other gatherings. Though college drinking and drug use can be prevalent, this is a place where you can begin a new chapter — one free from substance use.

By being upfront about your sobriety, you can find other sober people and even help others find reasons to be sober. In addition, joining a collegiate recovery community will help you align yourself with other sober people. With these groups, you won’t have the temptation or peer pressure of using substances.

Going Back to Work

When going back to work after rehab, you may want to speak with your boss about your sobriety. Though it isn’t required, communicating with your boss can help them when planning future events or work parties. For example, they make rethink work happy hours or plan activities that don’t revolve around alcohol.

By talking to your boss, you can also make yourself feel more comfortable during recovery. They will know you’re undergoing some big life changes, and they may be more understanding if you’re experiencing problems that can arise during newfound sobriety.

If you do find yourself at a work function that involves alcohol or other substances, you may need to let others know you won’t be partaking. You could make up simple excuses, saying, “I am a designated driver tonight,” or, “I have to be up very early tomorrow.” You can also directly tell them about your sobriety by saying, “I don’t drink or use drugs anymore. Please do not try to pressure me.”

At a Function With Alcohol

Even though you’re sober, many other people still choose to drink. It’s likely that you’ll find yourself in situations such as holiday parties where alcohol is involved, and it’s important to find a support system at these events. These people can also help you explain your sobriety to others.

When attending a function with alcohol, you may want to plan on going with others who won’t be drinking. If that’s not a possibility, be prepared to avoid temptation. If you don’t want to tell others about your sobriety, simply explain that you’re a designated driver for people who have been drinking.

Regardless, you may also want to plan an escape route if you feel your control is slipping — maybe you “need to let the dog out,” for example.

You Don’t Have to Justify Your Sobriety

The bottom line is that regardless of the reason, sobriety is your decision and it’s your choice to share this information with other people. Though sharing recovery stories with others can help them understand why you chose sobriety, it’s not necessary. You made the decision for your own health and wellbeing, and that’s all that matters.

Overcoming addiction is different for everybody, but you are never obligated to tell people your reasons for getting sober. If people are unable to accept that you are no longer using substances, they are likely not the kind of people you want to continue being around.

If you or a loved in struggling with a substance use disorder or co-occurring mental health condition and want to live a sober life, The Recovery Village is here to help. Contact us today to learn about treatment options for your specific needs.

a man wearing a blue and white striped shirt.
By – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
a woman with long brown hair smiling at the camera.
Editor – Renee Deveney
As a contributor for Advanced Recovery Systems, Renee Deveney is passionate about helping people struggling with substance use disorder. With a family history of addiction, Renee is committed to opening up a proactive dialogue about substance use and mental health. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.