There’s a huge misconception that if you are sober you must decline invitations to bars, concerts, clubs or any other social gatherings where your friends are getting together and alcohol may be served. This is just plain wrong. You can still party with the rest of them and protect your sobriety. In fact, social interaction is essential for maintaining one’s physical and mental health – both of which must be in good order to maintain a successful recovery.
Often those in early recovery avoid social gatherings and events because they’re worried their sobriety will be compromised which is completely understandable. However, there does come a time when the hermit life gets old and you want to stop missing out on social celebrations. It’s important to remember that you can still have fun while being sober. You just need to equip yourself with the proper tools and info to preserve your sobriety.
So, spread your social butterfly wings and hang with friends safely by keeping these tips in mind for staying sober when in social settings:
Know What You’re Getting Into
Prior to attending an event, find out the circumstances you’ll be in. What type of party is it going to be? Who will be attending? Will there be other sober folks there? Will non-alcoholic beverages be served? Knowing what kind of party you are going to attend is essential for preparing mentally and practically. Another important thing to consider is asking yourself, would the event still occur if alcohol wasn’t involved? The answer to this should clearly indicate whether or not you need to be there.
Bring a Buddy
Bringing a friend who is supportive of your recovery to an event is a good way of having a wing-wo/man who is by your side and there for you supposing you feel vulnerable. Having someone on hand who is firmly established in their own recovery is a great way to ensure that you don’t find yourself in a compromising or challenging situation because they have your back and want you to stay on track with all the progress you’ve made in your own recovery life. If you can’t bring a date to the event itself, bring a virtual date and stay connected with a sober friend or sponsor via text throughout the affair. Let them know your feelings beforehand and during so that they can be there to support you with encouraging words.
Get Your Own Drinks
Never let someone else who is not in recovery get you a drink. In fact, just get your own drinks at all times throughout the evening. We are not implying that someone is out there to get you and wreck your sobriety. But we are acknowledging that mistakes do happen and you need to be accountable – which is exactly what got you to this awesome place of sobriety to begin with. By having a drink in hand you’ll also avoid people constantly offering to get you a beverage. Take care to watch your drink as it is being poured because the bartender doesn’t know your sober unless you say so. Also, hold your drink, don’t take the chance of grabbing someone else’s drink mistakenly or someone ‘topping you off’ kindly but with devastating results.
You’ve come a long way and you have every right to be proud of your achievement. Share your progress with those that you trust. Those who are truly supportive will congratulate you. Be confident and say ‘no’ to those things that make you feel uncomfortable. By sharing your own recovery journey, you may inspire someone else to seek treatment, you never know. Your confidence may be just what they need for themselves.
Have an Exit Strategy
Decide prior to the event when you plan on leaving and how you’re going to leave. More often than not, as the night goes on behaviour gets wilder and people tend to get more inebriated. Rather than putting yourself in a compromising situation, just go. When the witching hour strikes and you’re feeling too close to relapse for comfort, leave. Having an exit strategy means planning beforehand when you’re going to leave and how you’re going to leave. You don’t want to be waiting on a friend who wants to stay. You want to be able to exit the event when you’re ready to go.
If at any point you feel like your sobriety is being threatened, leave the event immediately and reach out for support. Engage with your sponsor, your recovery friends, your family, or anyone who supports your sobriety and talk to them about your feelings. This way you can better understand yourself and in doing so, better strategize how to deal with the same situations in the future. Stay strong and sober on.