Today’s topic comes from The SHAIR Podcast Private Accountability Group where one of our members posted about peer pressure, so today’s topic is all about peer pressure and the need to fit in. This is what was posted.

“Hey, everybody. I’m feeling very vulnerable, currently on my recovery. I’ve got a year and a half clean. Next week, I’m leaving my firm that I’ve been with for the last six years as I’m moving overseas and I’m not going to see these guys again.

“My colleagues and I have become quite close over this period of time and they are organizing a night out on Tuesday and my boss keeps mentioning how I should let my hair down for one night and drink wine with them and go all out. I broke three-month sobriety in 2015 on such a night with these same guys so although I’m protecting my sobriety with all my might, there’s a little piece of me that says, “Oh, fuck it. I can do this again and just be sober again after that night.” How bad is this?”

Well, I’ll tell you this much. It’d be a lot worse if you didn’t talk about it, didn’t share about it, didn’t ask for help because just the simple fact of asking for help makes all the difference in the world. When I was growing up in grade school, high school, I was bullied as a kid and when I started drinking, miraculously, it all went away. For me, the realization that I came to was that alcohol equaled confidence, alcohol equaled being a part of, so if they were doing it, I was doing it.

If they were going to go to a party, I was going to go to a party. If they were beer bonging, I was beer bonging. If they were smoking weed, I was smoking weed. I was terrified of being left out. I was terrified of being bullied or ostracized. All I wanted to do was fit in so I was willing to do whatever it took, compromise whatever principles I had to be a part of. When I got sober, that begs a question of, who am I now without the alcohol?

When I got sober, that begs a question of, who am I now without the alcohol?

I think in early recovery, that’s a big question for many of us. Anytime you’re in a situation like this, you have to ask yourself good questions, better questions. What am I afraid of? Am I afraid of drinking or am I afraid of not being accepted? There’s the cliché that we hear in recovery which is you can’t save your ass and your face at the same time. You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. When faced with a situation like this where you’re feeling the peer pressure, where your co-workers are saying, “Let your hair down. It’s just one drink. It’s just one night,” and in the deep recesses of your mind, you start to contemplate, “Well, maybe they’re right. Maybe it’s just one night and it’s just a few drinks. How bad could it be anyway?” if we peel the layers back, what we find is this deep seated need for acceptance.

  1. What am I afraid of?
  2. Am I afraid of drinking or am I afraid of not being accepted?

There’s the cliché that we hear in recovery which is you can’t save your ass and your face at the same time. You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. When faced with a situation like this where you’re feeling the peer pressure, where your co-workers are saying, “Let your hair down. It’s just one drink. It’s just one night,” and in the deep recesses of your mind, you start to contemplate, “Well, maybe they’re right. Maybe it’s just one night and it’s just a few drinks. How bad could it be anyway?” if we peel the layers back, what we find is this deep seated need for acceptance.

Am I afraid of drinking or am I afraid of not being accepted? There’s the cliché that we hear in recovery which is you can’t save your ass and your face at the same time. You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. When faced with a situation like this where you’re feeling the peer pressure, where your co-workers are saying, “Let your hair down. It’s just one drink. It’s just one night,” and in the deep recesses of your mind, you start to contemplate, “Well, maybe they’re right. Maybe it’s just one night and it’s just a few drinks. How bad could it be anyway?” if we peel the layers back, what we find is this deep seated need for acceptance.

There’s the cliché that we hear in recovery which is you can’t save your ass and your face at the same time. You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. When faced with a situation like this, where you’re feeling the peer pressure, where your co-workers are saying, “Let your hair down. It’s just one drink. It’s just one night,” and in the deep recesses of your mind, you start to contemplate, “Well, maybe they’re right. Maybe it’s just one night and it’s just a few drinks. How bad could it be anyway?” if we peel the layers back, what we find is this deep seated need for acceptance.

Now, because this was posted in the Facebook private group, there was a lot of suggestions. There were over 30 responses to this particular post. The thing to take note of the most is that we were all on the same page. Here is a topic up for discussion about a potential relapse due to peer pressure and the general consensus was, “Are you out of your fucking mind? Why would you do that?” That’s the most important question you have to ask yourself.

If it was me, this is where I come from.

  1. First of all, I have been in recovery for 14 years so I come from a place of absolute clarity and that clarity is that I’m an addict, that I’m an alcoholic and that I am powerless over that first drink or that first drug.
  2. Second of all, every one that I know, especially people that I work with, know that I’m an alcoholic in recovery, that I go to meetings, that I don’t drink under any circumstances, that I’m an alcoholic. I’m certainly more concerned with my sobriety than I am with my anonymity if that’s what the concern is.
  3. Once I make that declaration, once somebody asks me why I don’t drink and I say I’m an alcoholic, that’s the end of the conversation around drinking or offering me a drink and in almost every case, it’s a matter of respect. It’s somebody saying, “Good for you, man. That’s awesome.” I don’t say it to get an atta boy. I say it to protect myself and to protect my recovery.

When I was first getting clean, my sponsor said, “Do you love your daughter?” I said, “Absolutely. There’s no question about it.” “What would you do to protect your daughter?” I go, “Whatever I had to. I would protect her with my life.” He looked at me and he said, “That’s the way you need to look at your recovery. You need to protect it with your life because without it, everything that you worked for will disappear overnight.”

To entertain the notion that you could go out one night and just come back is the dubious luxury of normal men which we are not. Every alcoholic has this fantasy, this dream that someday, you’ll be able to drink like normal people. We are not normal people.

To give up a year and a half of sobriety for something as meaningless as a going-away party begs the question of how valuable my recovery is to me.

What value do I place on that?

There’s so many of us that have made that choice that have said, “I’ve got a year. I’ve got two years. I’ve got six months. I’ve got three months. I’m going to go out and celebrate this one night because of this one event and then I’ll be back on the wagon tomorrow.” These are the same people I’m interviewing on my show that say, “Seven years later, I lost everything again and almost died after one night of drinking.”

The truth of the matter is that we’re probably not even talking about peer pressure. Think about it. Is it really peer pressure or am I just leaving the door open for an opportunity by making the decision to not tell my co-workers that I’m an alcoholic, that I have a drinking problem?

Would it be conceivable that possibly, what I’m doing is holding on to a reservation?

Now, the best part about this particular post is the fact that it was posted. Many of us won’t even discuss it. Many of us don’t post, don’t call our sponsor, don’t reach out to somebody else and ask for help or ask their advice. Many times, we make the decision on our own based on supposed peer pressure because I have to be able to blame somebody or something. It was somebody else. It was peer pressure.

All that goes away once you open up and share because the minute you post, the minute you asked for help, deep down inside, you already know the answer. You know it’s going to come back to you and it’s such a liberating feeling to say, “You know, I’ve got this great idea,” and getting the feedback of, “That’s a terrible idea,” and going, “Yeah, I know but I figured I’d ask anyway,” because the minute you put it out there, you crush it. You kill it.

Let’s do a quick recap. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself.

  1. First of all, is it peer pressure or am I just leaving the door open for the possibility?
  2. Do I have reservations still about drinking?
  3. Is it more important for me to be sober or for me to be accepted?
  4. What value do I place on my recovery?
  5. Why would you give up a year and a half of sobriety for one night of drinking?

I think it’s very clear that unless we’re willing to stand up for ourselves and be loud and proud about our recovery, we are opening ourselves up for relapse.