On the road to a better relationship with alcohol, we lean on the people closest to us; our spouses, our friends and our families. When friends help, they get us through the difficult nights, help us move on from our mistakes, and push us not to give up on ourselves. However, if we’re not careful, our support network can also help us make excuses. Having a friend or a family member who is a sort of “partner in crime” can turn defaulting on resolutions into a shared experience, one that somehow feels more permissible than if you did it alone.
The essential takeaway: our support networks have a measurable effect on how we behave. Pursuing relationships with people who have similar goals, helps us achieve our milestones, while other relationships will need work to make sure they function as support and not as obstacles.
Humans are social beings. It’s how we were made. We form close connections because having these relationships make our lives better. Unconsciously, we mirror behaviours practised by the people in our social circle. We base some of our internal definitions of what is okay by looking at how people around us behave. What this means for someone who is trying to change their drinking habits is that the people in your social circle are capable of both helping you or slowing your progress. Communicating effectively about what you need, and how they can best support you, can make the difference between the two.
You can get closer to your goals when your friends help
How can your friends help?
Listen: Sit down with you and have a conversation about what kind of situations can trigger your need to drink. If they know about your triggers, they can back you up and help you cope with them when they occur.
Socialise: Encourage you as you expand your social life with new activities like exercise and events where drinking isn’t the main focus. You can even sweet talk them into accompanying you if you’re nervous to go alone.
Connect: Pursue new people and new experiences, but don’t feel like you have to leave your old mates behind. Ask them to be there for you even if you can’t drink with them.
Three ways your friends help at social events
- Understand that sticking to your goals is important to you, and they should not ask you to drink with them if you’re trying not to.
- Help you find a non-alcoholic drink to have in your hand to avoid awkward questions.
- A good way to hold yourself accountable is to volunteer to be the designated driver for the group. You’ll have additional motivation to stick to your goals, and you will be everyone’s favourite person for getting them home.
We are who we are around
In this day and age, we have a newfound ability to really reflect on who we want to spend our time with. We have access to more communities than we could ever possibly reach out to. What this means for us is that if we want to change who we are and what we do each day, we have the ability to reach out and find people who are doing the same thing. To make connections with people is to be human, and to fear losing these connections is more human still.
Changing what you do with your Saturday nights is scary, because you may lose people who expect you to drink as heavily as they do. The liberating aspect of modern society is that while you may lose some friends who can’t accept your changes, the number of people and communities for you to reach out to is limitless. Your potential to find new people, and new things to do with your Sunday mornings is limitless.
What can you do with this information? Talk to your friends, talk to your spouse. Telling them about your goals with alcohol is good, but telling them about how they can help is better.
Click on this link for more ideas on support.