friends laughing

Making Friends In Recovery: 4 Qualities To Look Out For

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For those of us in recovery, there is an extra special quality about our friendships. Whether we found sobriety through online alcohol treatment or in-person care, navigating the world completely sober gives us access to intense, authentic feelings and openness to connection. I especially feel a kinship with others who are sober in a – I see you, you are recovering, doing the work, and continuing despite it all – kind of way. 

While I cherish the sober people in my life, most of my community is not sober or intentionally moderating. At the beginning of my recovery journey it was difficult to find the right support team. Some of my old friends at the time didn’t understand or make room for the changes I was making. Attending therapy was a great gift to myself, where I learned how to notice patterns, set boundaries, and let go of relationships that weren’t serving me. 

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With over three years of sobriety now, I’ve been able to identify who really does nurture and celebrate my sobriety. These friendships bring richness and social support to my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Through my personal recovery journey and having worked at a sober living facility and now Monument, I know the importance of community in recovery. I now have a refined radar for all of the great qualities that make for fulfilling and balanced relationships, which are the friendships we all deserve. These are the kinds of friends we need in recovery. 

people shaking hands

I choose friends who…

1. Celebrate my sobriety 

I’ve celebrated my sober anniversary differently every year. In my first year as a newly sober individual, I wanted to bar-hop. (Check out my tips for sober partying!) My second year, I got taken out to a pasta-filled dinner. Last year, I was greeted with non-alcoholic champagne, zero-proof negronis, and went on a long, wonderful hike. Each year that I’ve celebrated, my loved ones have made the day special, and told me how proud they are of me. They are relentless in the best way: this is something to celebrate, whatever that looks like. My loved ones take my lead and remind me of a wonderful reality: my sobriety is a superpower. I deserve to feel that.

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2. Make alcohol-free joy a priority 

My friends will look over menus before making a dinner reservation to see if they have a non-alcoholic beverage section. They will make sure there’s a mix of fun alcohol alternatives at housewarming parties, so I don’t have to worry about bringing my own seltzer (or lime wedges). If we’re out to dinner, my friends always taste a sip of my alcohol-free cocktail (and it always tastes better than theirs). All of this is to say, my sobriety isn’t an after-thought, but a bridge to joyful rituals we all get to embrace together.  

women by a bridge

3. Are willing to have those DMCs

DMC (noun): Deep Meaningful Conversation. I’ve had many friends in the past who I wouldn’t get real with. I used to spread my social energy far and wide (and thin!). Today, I like to preserve it so that I can actually show up for the relationships that fill me up. My friends now are unconditionally loving, emotionally intelligent, and know me for all of me. We laugh, but we can also have DMCs. They’ve put in the work to understand how to support someone in recovery. They know why I’m sober, and why it really, really matters. 

4. Will pull me out of the bar

I’ve asked myself with past friendships, if I were in a bar and ordered a drink — what would my old friends do? Let me be clear: friends are not responsible for whether or not I drink, or for identifying relapse triggers. What I mean is that friends shouldn’t just respect that I’m sober, but respect my goals to keep it that way and maintain a sober lifestyle. If that means dragging me out of a bar, so be it. If that means the night is over, I’ll thank them later. In the moments I do want to drink, a supportive friend will talk openly with me until I come to the answer myself: I don’t want to drink alcohol. And they don’t want me to either.

friends laughing

You are taking a truly meaningful step toward a happier and healthier you. Your loved ones should recognize, uphold, and honor that. If you aren’t finding enough support in your friendships or think you might have toxic friends, there are resources to help you find the support you deserve. 

In therapist-moderated alcohol support groups, you’ll be greeted with an entire recovery community that shares similar experiences and wants to encourage you in your journey. In alcohol therapy, a specialized therapist can help you identify supportive relationships, and teach you other valuable tools to support your sobriety. 

The benefits of sobriety are plentiful, and meaningful healthy relationships are among the most rewarding. You may find friends in recovery in your hometown, or via a digital community like Monument. They may be a close-knit social circle, or a wide network across the country. However you find them: hold them close. A healthy friendship that supports you through your recovery journey can make all the difference.

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Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

people having coffee

Lessons In Love: Dating While Sober

people having coffee

Note: until it’s safe to date in-person, these tips apply to socially-distant, or digital dating. 

In my three years of sobriety, I’ve done quite a bit of dating — much (…much) more than my sober peers recommended. I went on many dates that turned out to be flops, and it was hard not to take them personally. A ‘bad’ date would cause me to draw some pretty big (and unrealistic) conclusions: I’ll always have horrible luck, I’ll never find love, and so on. I felt residual shame from my former drinking habits, uncomfortable in my body, and unsure of who I was without alcohol.

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Now, I know that my sobriety should be honored and celebrated. Looking back, if a date wasn’t down with it (‘it’ being, my sobriety), I shouldn’t have been down with them. I can now recognize that not everyone is “my person,” and that isn’t a reflection of my character or my decision to live alcohol-free. I’ve learned to look for red flags: like if I tell this person I’m sober, and they say “oh sh*t”, then I probably should unmatch with them. I’ve had to get comfortable in my ability to walk away from any situation. Dating is complicated, and doing it sober can often feel even more complicated. I’ve been in a relationship for over two years now, and with more experience in both dating and recovery, I’ve come to understand that the authentic me is the best me. And someone will recognize that — the right person. Now, I see that sobriety is not an inconvenience but a superpower, and that I’m totally, 100%, dateable. 

How can you get there yourself? Well, there’s no easy answer. But to get started, I’d like to share a few suggestions of how I do it (and what I wished I’d known). 

couple in restaurant

My Best Practices For Dating in Sobriety:

  1. Call your hype man beforehand. It’s common in the early days of sobriety to feel lost about who you are as a romantic partner, or as a sensual or sexual being. Prescribe yourself daily doses of hype — before a date is the perfect opportunity to begin. Your close friends are the ones who know you best, and can remind you of all the amazing qualities you bring to the table. Spend a moment relishing in the wonderful person you are, especially without alcohol.
  2. Trust your (sober) instincts. A gift of sobriety is that people, places, and things are no longer seen through an alcohol-induced haze. So, trust your instincts. If you arrive at the date and feel uncomfortable at the venue, share openly that you’d like to go elsewhere or text a friend to crash the date or meet you nearby. If you become uneasy with the way your date is drinking (I’ve unfortunately experienced this), you have every right to leave. A gift of sobriety is the ability to honor your truest instincts. This is your power, especially when it comes to something as vulnerable as dating.
  3. Remember that you do not owe anyone an explanation. It’s no secret that drinking is commonplace, and oftentimes unhealthy, in the dating world. If your relationship with alcohol is brought up on the date, honor your own needs first. Remember that you are entitled to decide for yourself how much you’d like to share or not share. Whatever your reason for not drinking, whether because you’re sober, cutting back, or simply don’t want to drink that evening, that’s your business — and yours alone — to talk about.

couple walking

I went through a lot of trial and error while dating and newly sober, and fortunately had guidance from a therapist. Recently, I asked Sabrina Spotorno, licensed therapist at Monument, for her clinical perspective. She had invaluable insights to share.

Tips from Sabrina Spotorno, LSW, CASAC

  1. Envision what you want the date to look like: What environment, time of day, or other factors will allow you to feel most free to connect with your date? Try dating in nontraditional, alcohol-free environments. The more creative you can be, the more you can engage in genuinely fun and dynamic activities. Environments that include alcohol aren’t completely off limits, but it might save you some added stress. Plus, you’ll likely impress your date for going above and beyond the obvious!
  2. Order an alcohol-free beverage: Set the precedent early with what you prefer to drink. If you’re not comfortable talking about your sobriety, that’s completely okay. Beverage names and appearances are so vague that the other person will most likely not be able to tell if it’s non-alcoholic. Having your favorite delish AF drink in mind can ease any discomfort when it comes time to ordering. Once it becomes something that doesn’t feel like a priority, you can get back to the good stuff… getting to know each other!
  3. Choose joy: Sometimes sobriety can be wrongly associated with limitations. Moreover, the fear of judgment can prevent a candid conversation about alcohol-free lifestyles. What would it look like to genuinely celebrate your sobriety? If we want to live in a more inclusive world, we get to practice seeing the joy in our positive choices. You are choosing to be authentic and not hide what you need to feel good. What could be sexier than that?

Couple by a bridge

With these tips in mind, I hope you will feel more prepared and excited to date either now or in the future. Remember that there are so many parts of you, and your relationship with alcohol is only one piece of the puzzle. That said, your sobriety is something to take great pride in. Know that you are bringing your truest self to the occasion. The right person will celebrate that.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911. 

dance club

My 4 Tips For Going To Your First Party Sober

dance club

Note: until it’s safe to party in-person, these tips apply to socially-distant, digital events. 

Before the first party I went to sober, I hadn’t had a drink in five months and was starting to feel socially unfulfilled. A friend of mine was a drummer in an alt-rock band and posted his upcoming show on Instagram… which I took as an invitation. Immediately, I knew I wanted to go, but my mind began racing. I hadn’t been to a bar in over 150 days. The principle of staying away from people, places, and things associated with drinking is rational. It’s simple: don’t F with fire. In the first few months of sobriety, if something held the potential to destabilize my emotional wellness, I told myself to stay far, far away. And I think that was wise. What became clear over time, however, was that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for getting and staying sober. I once believed that dancing and drinking went hand-in-hand. Now, three years later, sober as ever, I’m a born-again partier.


Whether you’re attending a socially distanced soirée or a digital happy-hour, here’s my guide on navigating sobriety (and parties). 

Bring A Buddy 

I felt some shame prior to choosing to go to that alt-rock concert. With full transparency, I cried… hard. I worried about judgment from my sober peers — that going to a concert would be reckless and that I wasn’t serious about my sobriety. Don’t F with fire, Daisy. 

Then, a dear sober friend of mine offered to go with me. She assured me that we have no obligation to stay, whatever the reason. If we felt overwhelmed, uncomfortable, or of course, tempted to drink, we would leave. No questions asked and we’d leave together. She also promised me Red Bulls. 

Without a buddy (sober stars and sober-allies alike!), attending parties can feel daunting. Assurance of safety, compassion, and understanding helped me walk through fear and not around it. 

It also doesn’t hurt to have a friend from Philly who can dance to rock music like a pro. 

friends

Abundance Mindset V. Scarcity Mindset

I had tried to quit drinking numerous times before. Previously, one of my primary roadblocks was that I believed my world would get smaller. I thought that opportunities for friendships, romance, good times, dancing…partying would take a major hit. The truth of the matter is, alcohol and drugs rarely brought me an abundance of anything other than shame, loneliness, brutal hangovers, guilt — the list goes on. Maybe you can relate. The short story is that once I got sober, gifts revealed themselves. Sure, they didn’t arrive right away, but eventually, with patience, they did. And the most unexpected gift I was given was joy (and a lot of it). 

Life doesn’t stop when you decide to change your relationship with alcohol. And that means all parts of life. There is still sadness, anger, and loneliness. I’m human. I feel things. Only now I’m fully present for all of those feelings, including the joy which today feels infinite.

dancer

Freedom Over Fear 

Fear of setbacks is real. And it’s not any less real for someone ten days sober or ten years sober. A skill I’ve learned over the years from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (thank you, Marsha Linehan), is that the path between the emotional mind and the rational mind is a wise mind. Now, I wholeheartedly believe in honoring that voice inside of us which says I’m scared. That emotion is real. I can also recognize the importance of reasoning with yourself: if we don’t feel ready to go to a venue where alcohol is going to be served, that too is real. My wise mind is in the middle of the two paths. 

Oftentimes I pause before I commit to a plan, or even moments before I step out of the house (which is okay! You can change your mind about the partying thing, always). I take a moment and decide how to hold the two truths at the same time: that with honoring the emotional mind and the rational mind, I can take action from a place of internal wisdom. I’ve worked for it and I’m still working on it.

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Not all paths are linear, and perhaps whatever decision you come to may feel like it was the wrong call. That’s okay. Compassion, compassion, compassion: we’re all learning. If you hate the party, sob at the party, run out of the party (and I’ve done all three at the same time), take note. Tap into your wise mind: do alcohol-friendly venues make you feel unsafe today? 

wedding dance

H.A.L.T (And Eat) Because: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired = Not Good For A Night Out. Ever. 

And prior to any party, take a moment and HALT (quite literally). Are you hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? If any of the above, determine what you can control. If you’re hungry, eat feel-good food. If you’re tired, consider an alternative evening plan (might I suggest Reality TV). If you’re angry or lonely, ask yourself what best serves your mental health. Maybe that is going dancing. Perhaps that means sitting with yourself and self-soothing through the discomfort. Establishing routine self-care check-ins like H.A.L.T. has been instrumental to my sobriety. 

So, when the time comes to attend an alt-rock concert (and who really knows when that will be possible again) or a socially distanced gathering, know that maybe there’s no right answer. You have made an admirable decision to show up for yourself by changing your relationship with alcohol, and no matter how you facilitate joy — whether through red bull-induced dance moves or not — you deserve that. My greatest memories have been made throughout my sobriety. Without alcohol, I have had more fun, made more fruitful connections, and have danced harder: completely and shamelessly myself.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911. 

Halloween dance

Why I Got Sober On Halloween And Never Looked Back

Halloween dance

Three years ago today, I stopped drinking. It was after an incredibly uninspiring Halloween party — so uninspiring that I’m still surprised that that was it: the last time I drank. 

That evening wasn’t a rock-bottom. I’ve had countless “rock-bottoms.” I’d tried to quit drinking, substitute my drinking, limit my drinking, only-drink-one-drink my drinking, text-my-therapist-after-one-drink my drinking many times before. These declarations to change typically came after the nights one might expect (i.e., I never want to have a night like that ever again.) Yet what was distinct about this time, on October 28, 2017, was that I didn’t declare anything. I’d given up on expectations. I wanted to feel better — physically, mentally, and emotionally — and that’s the only declaration I needed to stay sober, if only for those twenty-four hours. 

carved pumpkins

What I’d learn is that life wouldn’t stop when I stopped drinking, and of course, neither did the Holidays, which are so infamously complicated. Drinking may simply feel like par for the course. That makes sense. Drinking was for me, and it is for many! You are not alone. If, however, you’re on the fence of whether to do a clean Halloween, here’s why I think it’s worth it. 

Your alcohol-free decision-making is the ultimate superpower

Of course, with the pandemic happening around us, questions of “do I go out?” or “do I stay in?” might feel less relevant. This year, your options may feel particularly limited. Nonetheless, we’re still confronted with: do I have a drink? What should we do tonight? Without drinking, I can make decisions about my night with certainty. “What do I want?” “What do I need?” and “What do I do?” can all be answered — authentically. Hey, I don’t want to go to the Virtual Village Halloween Day Parade, or hey, I definitely do want to watch what’s on Syfy’s 31 Days of Halloween. I assure you, whatever celebratory options come your way, your alcohol-free discernment will be a superpower.

Your costume won’t lose its luster

My final, pre-sobriety Halloween costume was Michelle Graham as Felicity Shagwell from Austin Powers. Naturally, by the end of the evening, my shoes were off, my hair poof had deflated, and I started referring to myself as “a go-go girl.” It just so happened that last Halloween I dressed up as Felicity Shagwell, that’s right, once more. Only this time, nothing missed in action. Now, as it happens, last Halloween, I dressed up, again, as Felicity Shagwell, and nothing fell by the wayside. Boots stayed on. Hair stayed poofed. And, I remember seeing Bjork from across the dancefloor. Repeat: Bjork. Dancing. Next to me. And I remember it. 

candy corn

Relish in all-you-can-eat candy-eating

Perhaps you’re like me and were the kid who divided their candy haul into categories: snickers bites, snickers bars, kit-kat singles, the giveaway pile (almond joy, peanut m&ms, gumballs), etc. Growing up, I broke down Halloween into two clear, equally essential factions: 50% costume, 50% candy. Shouldn’t it always be this way? 

So, when Halloween comes around, I enjoy every single bite from every single bag I pick up for myself at CVS. Who doesn’t want sweetness and nostalgia, all in one wrapper? In my sobriety, I have reframed the idea of treating myself. Instead of booze, it’s the simplicity of drugstore candy, good music, and great company. And trust me, with time, it does the job. No tricks about it. 

nighttime moon

The bottom line is, spending Holidays alcohol-free can be spooky. Your first AF Halloween may have its challenges, and that’s a part of the process. Sure, my first Halloween sober was different — I stayed in with friends, watched Harry Potter IV, ordered artichoke pizza, and demolished a few bags of candy. But it was like it was as a kid, and how remarkable is it that I’ve gotten to reclaim that? I can choose who I want to be and how I’d like to spend it. Sobriety gives me that freedom. 

I now savor the days designed for fun. And hey, I got to savor my first sighting of Bjork. And now you Possibly Maybe can too.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

How I Have Fun, Sober And Quarantined

I assumed that within my first 60 days sober, I would become a girlfriend. I thought I would lose weight, become not depressed for starters, and of course, fall into an extraordinary amount of money.

Unsurprisingly, those things didn’t happen in the first 60 days and sure, a few still haven’t come true, now three years later. I will say, however, that my life has gotten exponentially better, and yes, stay with me here…fun.

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Pre-COVID, having fun felt fairly easy. I enjoy dancing, eating. Obviously, going dancing and Friday night restaurant-hopping date-nights with my girlfriend aren’t pandemic friendly.

But! Here’s the but — I am still having fun. So, I’m sharing the activities that are keeping me in good spirits. Peppy, even. Let me preface this with, I still get sad and lonely and confused and furious like anyone else. Take one look around. But, I promise, one of these will scratch the itch. Even if it’s a half-fake smile or a single laugh — that’s enough for me. You’ve officially had fun and I’ve done my job.

Ok, so first, cook something new

I hate chopping things. That’s probably my least favorite part of cooking (In the event that I do cook). And what requires little chopping? Yep. You guessed it: Sour cream and onion biscuits.

Biscuits are great; I love biscuits. But, I also wanted to prove myself to myself. Like I, Daisy Gumin, can make biscuits and if I don’t have fun making them, I will undoubtedly have fun eating them.

Back home in New York City, I fell into the humdrum of egg, oatmeal, toast, smoothie (but no shade to Daily Harvest. Excellent smoothies.). A silver lining of quarantine is that wherever you are, you can make the time for things. The days of I don’t have time to make sour cream and onion biscuits are canceled.

In other words, make the biscuits — whatever your biscuit thing is.

Play Jackbox

I am not proud to say that I am occasionally a nay-sayer when it comes to traditional games. Ask me to play Monopoly? No. Uno? Eh. Scrabble? Have to be in the mood to be creamed by my family.

Now, Enter Jackbox.

Ah, Jackbox. The king of all games. The ultimate unifier. The games that don’t care if you’re young or old or funny or not. Jackbox games are the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time).

And no, I am not an ambassador.

Jackbox is a series of games that you can play with anyone (together or not) at any time, as long as everyone has the “room code.” These are drawing games, fill-in-the-blank games, laugh out loud competition games, trivia games. Believe me when I say, if all else fails, Jackbox will be your lifeline. And, if you don’t know where to start, try Jackbox’s “Quiplash” and “Drawful.”

Make an AF drink (Hold your horses, it means alcohol-free)

One of my favorite rituals of Friday night restaurant-hopping date-nights was asking the bartender, I’d like a cocktail without alcohol. Whatever you want to make, just no alcohol. Go Crazy.

I’ve had tons of success with that opener. I’ve had muddled tomato and lavender in elderflower tonic. Pineapple, Thai tea, and coconut milk in a Moscow mule gauntlet. Citrus on citrus on citrus adorned with boysenberries.

It’s safe to say I was devastated when shelter-in-place went into-place and I could no longer do my proud, I want a delicious bev and hold the alcohol introduction. The good news is, the AF beverage industry is booming. Spirits, wines, beers, all AF.

Alas, in quarantine, I had to become my own bartender. But let me tell you, there’s nothing better than passing your drink around a table of alcoholic cocktails and getting the, “yours is the best” remark.

Like, yes. Thanks. I know.

Looking for inspiration? Download Delicious AF for FREE for 11 beautiful recipes you can bring to life at home.

Date (but very, very, for the love of god VERY, safely)

I love dates, whether with my partner or a friend. Pre-COVID, dates were my highlight of the week. Dates bring that sweet anticipation, the opportunity for spontaneity, and joy.

Spontaneity is somewhat impossible in the time of Coronavirus. *Safety is wildly more important than a last-minute plan for the sake of adventure.

So, my partner and I adapted (with the advice of some other couples-in-quarantine) and started putting together COVID friendly date-nights. Here’s my advice.

  1. Get dressed (dressed, dressed. Like, changing from the clothes you slept in, dressed)
  2. Order take-out
  3. Put the phones away
  4. Make your AF drinks

…and date.

Workout to Youtube

Before shelter in place, I wasn’t working out. Sue me.

I was doing triple overnight shifts at a sober living home and thought if anyone is busy, it’s me. Upon reflection, I think everyone believes they’re the only busy New Yorker.

But, if you want to flex that muscle (no pun intended), Youtube is a great place to start. You might surprise yourself. The 20-minute MadFit video could turn into two. Maybe you end up mixing and matching with Chloe TingPOPSUGAR Fitness, and a full-body 5-minute boost to “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, as the finale.

Lastly, serve up some nostalgia

Do something that brings you back. A flashback Friday kind of thing.

For me, I’ve started rollerblading again. I think the last time I rollerbladed I was 11-years-old and had just officially gotten over my unicycle phase, for better or for worse.

Anyway, get back in touch with that childlike you, before well, this pandemic. Or long before this pandemic. Let yourself look dorky. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Some lighthearted goofery never hurt anyone.

I promise, there’s fun out there (especially sober). Because who are we kidding, booze is so un-fun.