Peer pressure is often the reason why young people begin drinking or using drugs.
Everyone likes to feel as though they belong or that they fit in somewhere among society. Adolescence is the time that we become hyper aware of our place in this world, and this is most often the time that people begin experimenting with drugs. When young people get in with a crowd that parties, they feel like they belong and have found their place. Drinking and getting high may be fun for a while, until it is not fun anymore, and is causing physical, emotional, financial, and educational problems. Thus comes the time to make a decision to stop, get clean, and change our lives.
When people in recovery try to keep the same friends that they had while partying, they will probably be judged. Our friends will make excuses and tell us that we really did not have a problem. This is because they want the “old” person back; the one that they can get high or drink with. Recovery programs tell us that we have to be mindful of “people, places, and things.” What this means is to keep our sobriety, it is helpful to let go of anything in our life that is related to our using days; disconnect from the people we got high or drank with, don’t go to the places that remind us of partying, and stay away from things that might entice us to use.
Sometimes we can’t just ditch a friend because we got clean and sober, even if that friend is judgmental of our recovery. For instance, my oldest, dearest friend and I have been friends since I was seven years old. She does not have an addiction problem. In our teen years we drank together, smoked together, and got high together. From day one, I drank alcoholically, drinking to the point that I got sick. I did not realize this when I was young. I thought that is what happened to everyone when they drank. As the years progressed, so did my addiction. When I finally got into recovery, my friend did not understand. In her mind, all people that went to meetings fit into a certain category, and I guess she did not want her best friend to be in that “category”. She would tell me that she knew people who quit alcohol and smoked some weed instead, and that they were just fine. She did not understand the concept of sobriety. Until this day, when the topic of my sobriety enters into our conversation, she still judges me and the concept of addiction and recovery. I have learned to let it go, and we accept each other as we are. She can have a wine cooler, and leave half of it. It doesn’t bother me that she can have a drink when she wants to, and it doesn’t bother her anymore that I can no longer smoke with her. We are still friends, for 42 years and going strong.
When we enter into recovery, we enter into a new world where we can make friends who are traveling the same path of a clean and sober life. Going to twelve-step meetings opens us up to a new world of sober people. We learn how to have fun in sobriety. We can make real friends who care about our well-being. When these people become our peers, there is a non-judgmental common understanding of being in recovery.
At the work place, it may be another story. The twelve-step program instills living an honest life. This does not mean that we should go shouting recovery slogans from the roof top, or barge into the boss’s office stating our sobriety date and our involvement in NA or AA. These programs are called “anonymous” for a reason. We should use logic and discretion when deciding who to tell that we are in recovery. The work place may be very judgmental about having someone on staff who is an “alcoholic” or “addict.”
The bottom line is that everyone judges everyone in some form or manner. Maybe it is part of human nature, or was a survival mechanism at some time in human development. Being mindful of with whom to share your recovery, and “judging” who your real friends are will go a long way.