10 Ways to Stay Sober at Drinking Events

Going to weddings, barbecues, concerts and parties may be an enormous challenge for you, especially in early sobriety. The fear of being exposed as the person that doesn’t drink, or possibly being so tempted that you actually end up drinking, is quite overwhelming.
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For me, there was always this uncomfortable time before the event, when my mind would go in circles, as I was trying to figure out what I was going to say, how I was going to say it, and even if I was going to be able to say it at all! And of course, how will the other person react. Will they push on? Will they ask why? Will they laugh at me? Will I have to explain? Will I feel left out? Will I feel uncool? Will I have any fun?! Ugh. Lots to worry about, right?!

But, one of the greatest things that I have learned in recovery was that whatever fear I carry about whatever situation I am facing, it always appears to me, to be way much bigger than what it actually ends up being! And drinking events are no exception! My great fear that I will be the only person not drinking, and that everyone will notice that I am the only person not drinking, and that they will all be staring at me, and pointing at me as if I had a huge pimple on the very top of my nose, just because I am not drinking, is completely NOT TRUE!!! What usually happens is that no one notices that I am not drinking, and no one cares that I am not drinking, and then I feel disappointed that no one noticed or cared that I was not drinking! LOL!

Nevertheless, I can completely understand and relate to all those feelings however absurd they may turn out in the end. So to help with some of the fear and anxiety I have picked up several tools to help me along the way.

Here are the 10 things that might be helpful to you!

1.  DON’T GO! This alone will save you every time! I know sometimes it is not possible not to go, or you might think that you absolutely have to go. Let me tell you first hand, NO, you do not have to go! The key here is to be honest with yourself. If you are not comfortable with it, and you feel like you might feel uncomfortable enough to pick up a drink, seriously… don’t go! You surely don’t need the extra pressure. This was and is still the most important decision I make. I have no business being at an event where drinking is the MAIN event, unless it is absolutely necessary.

2.  Make sure that your feelings, and heart are in a good space. If you are experiencing the onset of the fuck its, this means that you may be putting yourself in danger if you are already sad, mad, or resentful and go to a drinking event. Since we are used to using alcohol to self-medicated, and we tend to drink at things, or at people, a place where alcohol is readily available maybe an immense trigger. In this case, I would chose not to attend the event at all.

3.  Go to a meeting before you attend the event. If you are open to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), or SMARTrecovery, or any other support group, going to a meeting can give you the the extra confidence. Chances are that you will get some great support there, as well as new ideas on how to cope. It is always helpful to hear this first hand from people who have already done it successfully. This will help you feel stronger and more positive about getting through the event.

4.  Have a plan and be prepared to follow it. Play out couple of “what if” scenarios, make a decision on what you will do when it becomes too slippery for you to stay at the event. Whether you will call someone, or text them, or get some quiet time outside, or just plainly leave, make a plan so when the pressure gets overwhelming you know what to do.

5.  Take a buddy with you. Preferably a non-drinking one, and one that understands how important it is for you not to drink. Having a support person right there with you is really empowering; there is always more strength in numbers.

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6.  Bring some mints, gum or candy. I find that this helped me with the cravings lots of times, as well as it deterred me from eating too much food, which I have done on a few occasions, as replacement for drinking. This maybe important as we often tend to replace one habit with another.

7.  Get a non-alcoholic drink as soon as you get there. Get a coke, club soda, or cranberry and orange juice, then stick a lime on the rim and voilà, it looks like a drink! You can Also ask for the virgin (non-alcoholic) versions of Strawberry Daiquiri, Pina Colada or even a margarita. With a drink in hand already, chances are that no one will be asking you if you would like a drink.

8.  When asked if you would like something to drink, say Yes! Then ask for one of the non-alcoholic drinks mentioned above. If you are specifically being ask if you would like an alcoholic drink, say No, thank you, and that’s all. There really is no need for any explanations! And you might want to ask again for the non-alcoholic drink anyways.

  • In worst case scenario, and if someone is insistent to get you an alcoholic drink, just walk away, or change the conversation. For example, complement the waiter on their uniform. People love to hear complements and it often distracts them enough to forget what they were doing before.
  • Another helpful tactic is to say that you are taking medications that have adverse reaction with alcohol, or that you are or have been sick and are trying to get better.
  • Of course if you are feeling up to it, and I completely understand if you do not, saying that you are choosing to stay sober is probably the surest way to get a persistent person to back off, and maybe even get a high 5 and a congrats! Really, this has happened to me, and I strongly believe that all need be extremely proud of being sober!

9.  Call/text your support person. If you were not able to bring a buddy, have one available to contact while you are at the event. Sometimes just talking to someone who understands, or just talk to someone about something completely different, is all that you need to get your mind of the cravings. Remember, cravings are temporary, and they do go away.

10.  LEAVE! This action alone will save you from the temptations and the frustrations! This may not be always possible to do, but if you can, just sneak out, pretending to go to the bathroom, or get a call outside, or get something that you forgot in your car. Trust me, your sobriety is important enough to remove yourself from the dangerous situation at any time!

I know this may not appear easy at all, I understand! I avoided many events in the beginning, because I wanted to protect my sobriety at any and all costs. Of course at some point I wanted to have a social life too! So I was ready and willing to take all the necessary steps to ensure that my sobriety was #1 and not in any jeopardy!

Oh, and don’t forget to have FUN!

fun

What other tools have you used? Please share!


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24 Comments Add yours

  1. jmcraig2014 says:

    I had one instance when I first stopped drinking where a friend who happened to be a persuasive sales person really tried to convince me that I should return to drinking. He was so insistent, luckily he was on a restrictive diet and I looked at him rather sternly and said I would not try to shove carbs down your throat so lay off about not drinking. I was so angry initially, but it really helped to keep me sober in the long run because after that I would not give him the satisfaction of ever seeing me have a drink again. So here I am almost 9 months later still not drinking and really preferring not to drink.

    Like

    1. Isn’t it strange how people see this, they wouldn’t tell someone allergic to nuts, to go ahead eat some, it would be ok, would they now! I love the way you turned it around on him! Good job!
      And congrats on 9 months! Woot woot! Keep moving forward! Hugs.

      Like

  2. robertlfs says:

    Okay, so I had this experience tonight. I am on a work project in very rural Peru – tonight I am in Caraz in the Andean highlands – and my Spanish leaves an awful lot to be desired. This evening we started out for one thing, but ended up at another – the opening of the town library. And primarily because of my colleagues who are known Peruvians from the area, and myself being the only gringo in the mix, we get seated in the front row next to the Mayor and Library/Museum Director. I listen intently to long speeches that I do not understand. Then I notice that there are glasses of wine being passed out for the toast. And of course, being a special guest that keeps getting referenced by the speakers, I presume in favorable ways, I get one of the real wine glasses full and not one of the smaller fruit juice glasses I see that many others receive. And now the Mayor gets up to speak and I know the “Salud” is coming, and I rationalize that I will bring the glass to my lips, let a bit of the wine touch my lips to mimick drinking then put it down – like I used to do when taking communion in church – though I even stopped that practice a few years ago. So, we get to the salud and I also raise my glass, and mock a drink, but the wine never even touches my lips. Then there are a bunch more speeches, and finally someone comes around with a tray to take the mostly empty glasses. Mine is full, but I also notice that the Mayor’s wife seems only to have taken a couple of sips, and there are quite a few glasses that have an inch or more left on the tray. And no one said a word to me, I continued having a good discussion through an interpreter with the Mayor after the formal presentations broke. My colleagues and I will meet with him and the Museum Director tomorrow at 4:00 PM.

    My experience seems to fall into your Point 2 – Make sure that your feelings, and heart are in a good space – I had every reason to be at the event. I was in a good space throughout. I had a worst case scenario game plan which did not even come into play. My sobriety is intact. In a couple of weeks, I celebrate 30 years of sobriety, one day at a time, through that amazing grace and the fellowship of recovery.

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    1. I love this story, thank you for sharing! This is exactly what happens to me, I get a plan for the wort case scenario and get all ready and nothing even close to it happens! Although I did go to my parents friends house once for a party, really not expecting anything major, turned out that my dad’s friend laughed about me drinking only a dcoke, and saying what kinda Polish person am I not to drink vodka! I stayed for an hour, have never been back! Whatever!

      I also always make sure that I am in a good place, spiritually fit and would be ok if someone pushed on. I think that is so very important, when I am mad or something, it’s so much harder to fight the temptations!

      Thank you Robert for this awesome comment! Hugs.

      Like

  3. momma bee says:

    This is so awesome! The fear it can relate too…. Most times no one notices and I was surprised. We play things out I be much bigger than they are. Awesome post I would like to share! Thanks M!!!

    Like

    1. Thanks Momma Bee! Its amazing what Cray scenarios I would create in my head! Lol! But oh, the fear was so real! Especially since I spent many years living with a drink in hand. I felt naked without it!

      The great part is that his too gets easier and you notice it less and less and you start feeling quite comfortable!

      Thanks for reblog! His!

      Like

  4. momma bee says:

    Reblogged this on momma bee and commented:
    A great read on how to survive social events, especially in early sobriety~

    Like

  5. Thanks for this post. I have been sober a little over 8 months and have my first wedding this upcoming weekend. I have always had a distaste for weddings although I am not sure why! This is a sister of a dear friend and opting out would be hurtful to say the least. My husband will be my on site support and since the wedding is in a neighboring town, we can have two cars there so I can leave when I want to. Thanks again; I needed to read the pointers to refresh.

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    1. Weddings, eh, lol! Sounds like you have a good plan and on hand support, woot woot! Now try to have some fun too! Congrats on 8 months! Hugs.

      Like

  6. I am only on Week 1 and am so happy I found this blog. I started my own blog to hold myself accountable, share my struggles and document my sobriety. (http://girlsgonesober.wordpress.com/). I am so grateful for blogs like yours. Happy Sobriety!

    Like

    1. Hi Brittany! Congrats on 1 week. Glad that you’re here and sharing your journey with us! I am following your blog and can’t waits to read what’s ahead for you. Keep up the good work. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. jana0714 says:

    This really helps confirm my decisions about this weekend. I just didn’t go to a girl’s get-together yesterday afternoon, and I am skipping a birthday party tomorrow ..trusting my gut, because recovery comes first. Thanks for this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely understand! I avoided many functions in the beginning, it just wasn’t worth the aggravation, and temptation and all the crazy head crap that drives me crazy and makes me think that this time, unlike all the billion of other time, this time for sure will be different! Ha! Lies!

      I hope you had a great weekend! Woot woot. Keep moving forward! Hugs.

      Like

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