Not so Easy
Summertime and the living’s easy. These Sublime lyrics may be true for some, but for others, and especially those who have substance abuse issues, it can be anything but.
For many, the time between May Long Weekend and Labour Day is the time of year to get horizontal and catch up on some reading and absorb some rest, relaxation, and relation time. It just so happens that many of our country’s holiday weekends and countrywide celebrations happen in the same window. For those dealing with substance use issues, cottage/cabin trips, boating season, sporting events, weddings, and summer holidays can be a source of significant anxiety when there are expectations to drink.
Anyone heading home after addiction treatment in the summer is usually faced with this type of difficult situation. Recently, I have discussed this issue with many of our clients. Here’s an example of a typical conversation:
Client: I’m nervous about going home and how I will deal with the guys at work that always want to go for pints after work. It’s going to be so tough trying to explain everything I’ve learned here to them.
Me: I would imagine that could be a major source of anxiety for you as you transition back to day-to-day life.
Client: Certain situations I will be able to avoid, and just stay away from, but others like family gatherings, or birthdays, or holiday weekends, I will have to face it head on.
Me: At least, you are aware of the potential risks or dangerous situations. That is critical and will allow you to prepare yourself. Have you decided upon boundaries or any clearly defined stances on how you will navigate those situations?
Client: Kind of. I’m still working on it, but my close friends and family will be supportive of me.
Me: Awesome man! You know what? If you tell people about what your goals are and what you need from them, it goes a long way. Your real friends and family will support and encourage you along your journey. Actually, once you’ve made your intentions known to those in your life, anyone who tries to entice or encourage you otherwise are not truly looking out for your best interest, and are pressuring you to support their own self-interests, not yours..
Client: Yeah, I hear that. It will just be tough as some of these people I have been friends with since grade school.
Me: It won’t be easy, but this is an instance it’s ok to be self-serving. Would you really want someone in your life that doesn’t have your best interests at heart or that refuses to support you in such a crucial moment in your life? What type of friend is that?!
Client: No doubt! Thanks man.
Me: Just remember that some people have a hard time with others near them bettering themselves. These types of people would rather drag you back down into the quicksand with them than watch you work hard to dig your way out of the quagmire. For those stuck with their feet in the sand, there is nothing more frightening than the prospect of their partner in crime wriggling free from and walking away to more hospitable and stable terrain. 😉