Connection, Community are Essential to Staying Sober in Austin

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One of the many challenges of recovery is learning how to maintain one’s sobriety in a culture in which alcohol and other drugs are prevalent and easily accessible.

This challenge can be particularly acute in places such as Austin, Texas, which features a large population of young people, a vibrant art and music scene, and an abundance of bars and clubs.

While many people are attracted to Austin due to its reputation as a party city, it is possible not only to survive, but also to thrive in Austin without relapsing into substance abuse. Staying sober in Austin or a similar hotspot can require some extra planning and effort, but it can also yield surprising benefits.

In a June 30, 2016, article on the website of Austin-based radio station KUT 90.5, writer Ashley Lopez profiled three Austin residents who are in recovery who are working to help others to protect their sobriety while enjoying this great city.

While all three of the Austin residents who were profiled in the KUT article have unique backgrounds and different ways of guarding their sobriety, they all agreed that connecting with other members of the recovery community is essential.

“The biggest part of getting sober is really just finding a new group of friends who are your age who you have fun with,” said the appropriately named Austin Berry, who moved to the town in 2010.

When he found a group of people who were in his age range, who had similar professional objectives, and who enjoyed the same types of recreational and leisure activities, Berry discovered an unexpected benefit to remaining in recovery.

“I had a lot more fun sober than I ever did drinking and using,” he said.

The fact that Austin’s population skews younger than many other areas contributes to its reputation as a place to party – but this same demographic factor can also be an advantage to people who are attempting to build a solid foundation in recovery. As Austin Berry noted in his comments for the KUT article, the abundance of young adults in the Austin area makes it easier to find others in the same age range who have a history of addiction and who are working to remain strong in recovery.

Austin, Texas, is not the only place where people in recovery can find support amid prevalent drug and alcohol use. For example, fans of the Grateful Dead and Phish, two legendary groups who are closely associated with substance abuse, have created support groups for those who want to continue to enjoy the music and other aspects of the culture without falling back into addictive behaviors.

Members of group of sober Grateful Dead fans, which is known as the Wharf Rats, maintain a presence at concerts of Dead-affiliated bands. They are there to provide support to Dead fans in recovery, and often hold 12-step meetings at concert venues. At Phish concerts, a group called The Phellowship performs a similar service.

In Austin, at rock concerts, and in other areas where a person is likely to be tempted with alcohol or other drugs, the difference between relapse and successful (and enjoyable) recovery may be found in two concepts that are also essential to the 12-Step Model: connection and community. Finding others who share your values or beliefs, who have a similar worldview, and who are also walking the path of recovery can turn a potentially destructive situation into an opportunity for progress, improvement, and joy.

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