Forget the FOMO: Adjusting to Sober Life After the Program

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Whether you just completed an inpatient stay or an outpatient program, adjusting to life outside of treatment can be difficult. It is important that we try our best not to romanticize or obsess over the “Fear Of Missing Out” (FOMO) if we see people out partying or posting on social media about it. We know that life and we left it behind for a healthier one! That being said, learning how to have fun without drugs or alcohol is one of the many lessons that we learn on the road to recovery. As people in recovery, we are constantly learning good habits and unlearning bad ones. For us, fun and substance use are mutually exclusive, despite the messages we may be exposed to after we leave a program and reenter daily life.

Let’s Be Honest: We Aren’t Missing Out on Much

After completing an inpatient or outpatient program, we reenter a world that condones and endorses drinking and substance abuse. We see it in our media, hear about it from our peers, and see it on our social media pages. This is all a part of the recovery process. We cannot expect the world around us to bend to our needs, so we must strengthen our resolve by following the 12 steps and attending meetings regularly.

However, this is sometimes easier said than done.

FOMO is the feeling you get when you see friends, family, or even strangers “having a good time” without you present. As people in recovery, we might happen across a social media post where our friends are drinking on a boat, partying at a bar, or having some beers and watching the game.

There are two things that we must take inventory of in order to process this “FOMO” and prevent it from causing a relapse.

First, you can have fun and be a part of the festivities without drinking. Your friends who love you are not going to force alcohol or drugs on you or try to coerce you into partaking. If you feel uncomfortable in these settings though, that is fair and valid too! Getting to a point in our sobriety where we can be around those who are drinking takes time, and everyone’s progress is different. But remember, you do not need alcohol or drugs to have a good time.

Second, you aren’t “missing out” on anything by not partaking in drugs or alcohol. As men in recovery, we know the life that we are working to put behind us. Whatever “fun” that we had while we were in active addiction is now something that we are trying to keep in the past. Our journey into recovery requires us to do hard work to rewire our brain’s understanding of what “fun” is, what “celebrating” is, and what “relaxing” is. None of these things require a substance, despite the fact that we associated all of these things with them for a long time.

Making New Friends in Recovery 

As adults, it can be difficult for us to make new friends. Jobs, errands, and obligations are things that didn’t exist when we were children or teenagers. It can be especially difficult for people in recovery. It’s worth considering that if you’re starting to see your friends less and less as you become a better version of yourself on the path to recovery, they may not have had your best interests at heart. But, understanding this doesn’t make the hurt go away.

When we start on the path to sobriety, some of us may have to (at first) rework the ways in which we spend our leisure time. Making new friends is paramount to a long-lasting recovery. Time spent alone shortly after leaving a program or dedicating yourself to getting sober is, oftentimes, not conducive to recovery. That’s why it is recommended that we try our best to make an effort to meet new people and have new experiences that are not centered around drugs or alcohol. These new experiences can be uncomfortable, but that’s a part of the process. Living a life of active addiction and then switching to a life of sobriety forces us to unlearn unhealthy associations of concepts like “fun” and “drugs” or “relaxation” and “alcohol.” Part of that unlearning process is figuring out how to have fun with others without resorting to either of those things.

FOMO is going to happen. It is natural and to be expected when we enter recovery. However, in order to prevent this feeling of missing out from causing us to spiral out of control, we must always remember that the real good times are sober times.

When we leave active addiction and enter recovery, it can seem as though the world around us is hellbent on convincing us that we need alcohol to have a good time, celebrate, and relax. This “FOMO” can lead to intense feelings of depression, anxiety, and insecurity about our friend groups and support networks. This, in turn, can make long-lasting recovery very difficult to maintain. At Jaywalker lodge, we take a multi-step approach to recovery that involves inpatient and outpatient programs combined with a 12-step, community-driven approach. We specialize in building long-lasting recovery for men who have found it especially difficult to maintain their sobriety. Our team of caring addiction counselors and professionals is here to help our clients achieve recovery by working to create an individualized plan that works for them. If you or someone you know is struggling to maintain their sobriety, reach out to us today at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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