So… it is that time of the year again, when drinking becomes the focus of all the holiday celebrations, company parties, Christmas events and let’s not forget, bringing in the New Year. Ugh. Don’t you just hate it all? I sure did!!
In early recovery it is hard for many to party without their favorite elixir. The idea that we, the sober folks, will be the outcast of the gathering can be quite overwhelming. In fact I remember having true anxiety attacks just thinking about it. I felt that I couldn’t, not go because then I would be lame for not going, and if I went, I would then be lame for not drinking. It seemed like an absolutely impossible situation!!
Then to add to all the chaos in my head, of course all my insecurities would flare up and I was a complete mess. Let me tell you – that is no way to live!
So, lets start with the first part of this issue – the not showing up for the parties. Yes, I did not go to a few parties my first year sober or so. And I am glad that I did not! First the pressure to be fun and sober seems so overwhelming – and guess who was doing all the pressuring? Me!! All in my head and stressed out to the max.
Listen. It’s OK not to go. Really. If you must have an excuse to give, you can say that you were not feeling well.
IT IS OK TO LIE IN ORDER TO PROTECT YOUR SOBRIETY
Because if you go to the party, and end up drinking, and drinking too much, and making an ass of yourself in front of your boss, you will regret that a whole lot more than not being there at all.
The second issue – going to the party sober may be a bit harder at first but with a few tools you can most definitely do it and have fun and I mean lots of it!
I would strongly suggest to first make sure that your feelings, and heart are in a good space. Be honest with yourself. Really honest!! 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. These emotions are sure triggers and have often lead to relapse.
DO A LITTLE PREP WORK BEFORE YOU GO:
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 extra confidence. Chances are that you will get some great support there, as well as new ideas on how to cope.
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.
Take a buddy with you. Having a support person right there with you is really empowering; there is always more strength in numbers.
ONCE YOU GET THERE:
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! With a drink in hand already, chances are that no one will be asking you if you would like a drink.
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.
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 explanation!
- 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!
Call/text your support person. 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.
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.
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!
For more great tips check out the full post 10 Ways to Stay Sober at Drinking Events HERE.
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