Fear of missing out, or FOMO can be a challenge for people in addiction recovery, especially younger people. They often feel like the best thing in life is gone forever, like the good times will never be quite as good again. They see their peers drinking and having fun and feel like they can’t be a part of it. Celebrations don’t seem quite as good because they might be a little better with drugs or alcohol. These are all aspects of FOMO. No matter how good life is, you always wonder if it might have been better had you made a different choice. FOMO can lead to chronic dissatisfaction and cravings. If you want to stay sober, it’s better not to be thinking about all the fun you could be having if you relapsed. Here are some ways to get over FOMO.
Do a cost-benefit analysis. FOMO is usually a vague sort of feeling. You see a cheerful group drinking wine at dinner and you feel like they enjoy a permanent happiness that’s now forbidden to you. Maybe you’re sure you would have better luck dating if you could drink. It’s easy to fixate on the thing you feel like you’re missing out on. If you actually make a list of what you’re missing out on and compare it to what you would miss out on if you relapsed, sobriety will always be the clear winner. It might help to make such a list and keep it where you can look at it when you feel like everyone is having fun but you.
Practice gratitude. As mentioned above, FOMO makes you focus on the one thing you feel like you’re missing out on. Your life may have improved in every meaningful way since getting sober, but if you only think about what you lost, you will still feel sad. One way to counter that is to count your blessings. Switch your focus to the things that are going really well, the things you wouldn’t have in your life if you never got sober. If you think of the thing you’re missing out on as the price of all the good things, it will look like a pretty good bargain.
Balance the equation. No matter what choice you make, some part of you will wonder if you would have been happier with the other choice. Imagine having made the other choice, and really feel that you would still wonder if you should have made the other choice. Now add all the consequences of having made that choice and it will be clearer that sobriety was the right thing. Whichever road you take, you may feel a bit of regret you didn’t take the other, but despite that, you can choose the one that’s clearly better.
Play the tape. You can, of course, go back to using at any time. Before you do, really imagine what your life will look like if you do. You may fear missing out on the fun of a celebration, but think through what would happen in the hours, days, and weeks following that good time. You aren’t just missing out on a few hours of fun; you are also missing out on all the misery that’s inevitably linked to it.
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