Ways to Handle High-Risk Situations

High risk situationsIn previous articles, we have discussed the importance of walking into situations with a plan. Managing relapse triggers is essential to staying on a sober path. But even with the best planning and intentions, you may still find yourself in settings that you didn’t anticipate—settings that present challenges and test your will. While we encourage people to avoid testing themselves, we know sometimes those circumstances are unplanned or inevitable.

When you find yourself in a high-risk setting, what steps can you take to manage the situation? Here are our tips for standing your ground in unforeseen challenges.

Come armed with alternatives

Going to parties or gatherings that turn out to serve alcohol can present obvious challenges for staying sober. When you’re a recovering addict, one of the strongest pulls to relapse is the feeling of wanting to belong, and situations where everyone else is drinking may feel awkward or lonely when you aren’t prepared.

If you know there is a chance other people might be drinking, consider bringing an alternative option to avoid feeling empty-handed. If you are headed to someone’s home, bring your own non-alcoholic beverage in case those options aren’t offered. If you are visiting a restaurant or other venue, don’t force the discomfort of explaining why you are empty-handed. By ordering a non-alcoholic beverage, you can show participation and still stick with your plan.

Practice the buddy system

The buddy system isn’t only for crossing the street. Making a partner aware of the situation can be helpful for accountability—even if it’s as simple as texting a friend. Consider attending events with a sober partner by your side or having a sober partner on call when you need some encouragement. Including someone else supports you in your sobriety and shines a light on the situation, making your actions accountable to another person.

Anticipate an exit strategy

Nothing is more frustrating than feeling stuck somewhere you don’t want to be. As a best practice for any occasion, always plan ahead of time how you will get home—especially if an event could put you in an uncomfortable position. Having an exit strategy may mean it’s best to arrive with your own transportation so you aren’t relying on someone else to drive you home. This allows for a way out without feeling guilty about making someone else leave early on your behalf. Being your own designated driver also creates a quick, easy response to why you aren’t drinking. Having that response ready will help you feel equipped with a natural answer to anyone’s questions.

Lean into coping skills

If you have exhausted your options and can’t find a getaway, remind yourself of the coping skills you have learned. Retraining the mind is critical in recovery, and using thought stoppers can be a powerful tool in trying situations. Learn how thought stoppers can help you develop a more mindful perspective on tough days in recovery.