Dry People, Dry Places

‘Dry people, dry places’ is an important concept early in recovery. The idea is simple: if you want to stay sober, stay away from people who drink and stay away from places that serve alcohol. This isn’t always convenient. You will probably have friends who still drink and you are probably used to spending time in bars and pubs. You may not feel like you can connect with people anywhere else. If you want to stay sober, you will have to develop new habits, and dry people, dry places is a good place to start.

We always underestimate how much external circumstances influence our behaviour. We believe we’re in charge of our decisions and no one can make us do something we don’t want to do.

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The problem is that with addiction, you really do want to do it. You are fighting against not only your friends’ influence and your environment, but also your own habits and cravings. It’s just too much. If you go to a pub with your friends and intend to stay sober, you’re basically stacking the deck against yourself. You’re setting two major triggers against your delicate belief that your life will be better without alcohol.

You can only hold out for so long. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where a momentary weakness can lead to relapse. That’s exactly what you’re doing when you go to a pub. You see your friends drinking and that makes you want a drink. Social pressure is perhaps the most potent way to influence behaviour. Then, if you give in, you don’t even have to go anywhere. You can just order a drink. The gap between craving and consequence is extremely small. There’s no room for error.

This is not to say you can’t associate with people who drink. Depending on where you live, that might severely limit your network. It does mean you should mainly associate with people who don’t have to drink, and especially people who are willing to abstain in your presence. Of course, the bigger your sober network, the better off you’ll be. Just as being around people drinking can trigger a craving, being around sober people can be an incentive to abstain. The more positive influences you surround yourself with, the better your recovery will be. If you can be around people in places where sobriety is expected, you won’t have to rely so much on willpower.



Smarmore Castle Private Clinic in County Louth, near Dublin was founded in 1988 as a residential rehabilitation hospital treating people suffering from drug and alcohol purposes. Smarmore Castle believes in helping patients lead a life of abstinence through 12 Step programmes, detox and medical treatment, psychotherapy, and complementary therapies for mental illnesses. For more information, please call 041-214-5111. For those who live out of the country, the international number is 00353-41-214-5111.

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