Sometimes I feel lonely being the only person at my work or from my school friends who doesn’t drink or do drugs. Last night a bunch of kids from my school had a party and I wasn’t invited because I don’t drink. I guess some of my “normal” friends are afraid to drink around me because they think I’m going to go crazy and just grab the alcohol away from them and start chugging away. I know my limits these days, about what kind of situations I can put myself into, for how long, and how often. Being around alcohol now doesn’t really bother me because I have made a decision in my life to not drink or use. Over time in my recovery, it has become second nature. It’s just not something I do. This isn’t to say I spend all of my free time at raging keggers or raves- I have a deep involvement with a 12-step program and spend most of my time with my recovery friends mostly because we just get each other. I guess I just had a little flash of that loneliness I used to feel in early recovery when I really did have to cut myself off from people who drank or did drugs. It was a necessary precaution. As time has gone on, I feel more and more solid in my recovery identity and the occasional party where alcohol is being served doesn’t trigger me to use.
Finding a balance between my recovery life and my school or work life has been a challenge. If I spend too much time immersed in my recovery world, I miss out on other relationships and experiences. I don’t want to become a recovery zombie. On the other hand, I can’t devote all of my time to school and work. If I do that, I can easily lose focus on what is important, like my sobriety. I learned early on in adolescent treatment that if I don’t put my recovery first, I will lose it. Sometimes it has been hard to put it first when I see my peer group at school in Los Angeles going out drinking together. Sometimes I feel left out, but when I really think about it, nothing is as important as my recovery. When I feel left out or like someone my age should be out drinking and having fun, I have to remember where drinking took me, and all of the painful work I had to do to get where I am today. I may not have been invited to the party, but I have grown more in my early adult years than any of my work and school friends. I wouldn’t trade who I am or what I’ve been through for the world. I have very good friends in recovery and from my treatment center that love me and support me in my growth, and who will be there for me though all of life’s ups and downs. When I made the decision to go ahead and give rehab and recovery a shot, I lost my old life, but gained a new one that is better than I could have ever hoped for. So even though I felt kind of bummed out this weekend about not being invited to the stupid party, I ultimately feel grateful for the life that treatment helped me find.
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