Sobriety Can Seem Harder if Your Roommates Aren’t Sober
One of the most important parts of recovery is sober living; however, this is not always an option for everyone. Living with roommates or a significant other who is not sober can be especially challenging for those in recovery. A lot of people drink and with housing expenses so high, it can be difficult to find a sober roommate. However, it is important not to share a living space with people who are heavy drinkers, drug users, or may have a substance abuse problem of their own.
Living with someone who drinks, uses marijuana, or are moderate drug users, is still a risk factor. There can be many temptations and pressures that come along with living with a person who engages in these types of behaviors. But it is possible to live and be friends with others who are not sober through proper communication and relapse prevention planning on your part. Here are some issues to consider and how to stay sober when your roommates are not:
5 Challenges of Living with People Who Aren’t Sober
- You May Feel Left Out. Your non-sober roommates will likely participate in social events that involve alcohol or drugs, which they may ask if you would like to go with them. These types of social situations can come with several relapse triggers and pressures to partake in substance use. Whether you choose to go or stay home, depending how you can handle temptation, you may still feel left out.
- They May Not Understand Recovery. Most people do not understand addiction as a disease and how fragile your sobriety may be. You should be prepared for a lot of questions and for them not to understand why you can’t have just one drink, or why you need to go to AA meetings every day or why your routine is important.
- Your Roommates May Keep Alcohol and Drugs in the House. Non-sober roommates are likely to keep drugs or alcohol around the house which may be a temptation for you. For some people in recovery, even just seeing barware or drug paraphernalia is enough of a trigger. You may also accidentally pick up the wrong glass which has alcohol in it or inhale second hand smoke from marijuana.
- They May Have Parties with Alcohol and Drugs. Be prepared for your roommates to have their friends over, which may include alcohol or drug use. They may ask you to participate in the party which may have new people who do not know about your sobriety and may ask you many of the same questions about why you do not drink or why you cannot have just one drink.
- Your Roommates May Pressure You to Drink. This is especially true if they do not understand addiction and recovery. Your roommates may pressure you to have just one beer or smoke some marijuana. When people drink or do drugs, their inhibitions are decreased which means they may forget about your recovery and keep asking you to partake.
7 Ways to Stay Sober When Your Roommates Are Not
- Openly Communicate. No one knows what you need for you to keep your recovery better than you and no one can read your mind about how to support you. You need to explain to your roommates clearly why your sobriety is important to you, what having an addiction is, and what you do to maintain your recovery. You should also keep them informed when a trigger arises and which behaviors or situations are triggering.
- Set Boundaries. Before you move in with non-sober living roommates, you need to make them aware of your sobriety and what boundaries you need to maintain your sobriety. This can include keeping alcohol and drugs in their room instead of common areas or refraining from binge drinking in the house. You can even compromise that you need to know about a party ahead of time so you can make arrangements to go somewhere else.
- Be Aware of Your Triggers. Understanding which situations, behaviors, emotions or thoughts are potential relapse triggers for you, can help you either avoid them or develop the proper tools to effectively overcome them.
- Practice Daily Self-Care. Stick to your daily routine and stress relief methods, such as journaling, exercise, eating well, and meditation to keep your mental health in check.
- Have a Sober Community. Having sober friends to lean on or recovery meetings to go to can provide the daily support needed to maintain your recovery. This is a great way to have a social life outside of your roommates so you do not feel left out every time they do a non-sober activity.
- Have an Escape Plan When Temptation is Getting to be Too Much. When relapse triggers or temptations are getting to be too much, you will quickly know where to go or stay until you can get a better handle on it.
- Find a New Place to Live. If your boundaries keep being crossed or you find it is too much temptation living with non-sober roommates, it is important to find a new place to live. Whether that be on your own, sober living housing, or find sober roommates.