How To Manage
Different Encounters
When You’re In Recovery

A guide to learning some of the best ways to handle different
situations you might encounter when in recovery.

Living a sober life can be challenging at the best of times, but when unexpected encounters occur that you’re not prepared for, it can be overwhelming. Running into someone from your AA meeting, seeing someone from your past that you’re not on good terms with…these are things that can make you feel like turning back to your old life, and that can be dangerous. It’s important to have a game plan for these instances and figure out a way to cope with them after the fact in a healthy way.
One way you can do that is to take care of yourself. Practicing self care is a great way to ensure you’ll be mentally and emotionally prepared for any occurrence, so exercise daily, eat well, get enough sleep each night, and minimize stress as much as possible. This sometimes means unplugging from technology for a little while, so turn off the phone, tablet, and laptop and refrain from constantly refreshing your news feed. Being connected all the time has its advantages, but often it creates anxiety and stress where there was none before.
Here are some of the best ways to handle different situations when you’re in recovery.
Seeing Someone You Know At An AA Meeting
Many people in recovery are unsure of what to do when they see someone they know at a meeting, and understandably so; it’s called Alcoholics Anonymous for a reason. But there’s no reason to make the situation uncomfortable for everyone involved; simply give a polite smile and nod to the person to let them know you’re acknowledging their presence, and if they feel comfortable talking to you, they’ll make the next move. In some cases, the two of you may even be able to help one another. It can be helpful to have someone you know in that area of your life, as you can hold each other accountable.

Seeing Someone From AA
Outside of a Meeting

This is always a tricky situation, but don’t let it cause you anxiety. As much as you would any acquaintance, give a little nod and smile if you catch the person’s eye, but don’t feel obligated to walk over and start a conversation. You can always speak to the individual at the next meeting, and if a friendship strikes up, you can take it from there.

Running Into An Old Friend
It can be difficult to know how to handle seeing someone from your old life, especially if things were left on shaky terms before you went into recovery. Don’t feel obligated to tell them about your journey or the changes you’ve made; if you feel the friendship is salvageable, gauge their feelings on getting together for lunch sometime soon. The best way to let them know that you’ve changed is simply by showing them.
If things got ugly in the past and you’re not ready to go there again, don’t be afraid to walk away. Your recovery and mental health are too important to jeopardize.
Finding Out a Fellow AA Member is Using
Once again, this is a tricky situation for everyone involved. You must ask yourself what the best way to help is, but be discreet and careful about it. If your fellow AA member has a sponsor, reach out to him and let him know that you think there’s a chance your friend is using again. Barring that, the only other way to help is usually a confrontation or, if you don’t feel comfortable doing it one-on-one, an intervention.
Remember that everyone who is in recovery is just taking things one day at a time. It’s a long, hard road that you’ll be on for the rest of your life, so finding ways to minimize stress is important. If you feel you’re in a situation that can’t have a good ending, get out. It’s okay to put yourself first.

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