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.
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!
Here are the 5 things that might be helpful to you!
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.
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 asking 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 the 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 compliments 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 an 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 congrats! Really, this has happened to me, and I strongly believe that all need to be extremely proud of being sober!
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!
What other tools have you used? Please share!
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles.
*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).