Social events pop up frequently and many a time our calendars are filled with them. It may be your best friend’s birthday, your niece’s christening or simply a back garden barbeque. Whatever it is, most of us have some sort of social engagement to go to every now and then. Now, this really is not a big deal to the average person and in fact these events are something we generally look forward to. However, for a recovering addict these social events can be the bane of their very existence.
People who have recently come out of addiction treatment often avoid social gatherings and events for the first few months, which is totally understandable and often encouraged under the circumstances. However, there is going to come a time when you want to stop missing out on milestone celebrations, and you also may find that you feel the need to start socialising again. The problem is that many of these social events include alcohol and if you are in addiction recovery this could prove a huge stumbling block.
It is important to remember that it is entirely possible to stay sober at a party or an event and still have fun. Every individual has a different personality and if you are a social person who would still like to go out and mingle, there are some really good tips that will help you to stay sober (and have fun) at social events.
A Survival Guide to Staying Sober at Social Gatherings
Having fun at these gatherings is definitely important, but first and foremost you must remain sober. Which is why, before we get to the ‘fun’ part, we are going to ensure you stay sober with these four incredibly important tips:
1. Be Aware of the kind of environment you are going to.
Before accepting an invitation to a party, you need to be sure about the circumstances you will find yourself in. Do not be afraid to ask questions about the people going and the type of party it will be. If you feel comfortable to do so, ask if there will be any alcohol-free drinks available, and if there will be any other non-drinkers there. Once you have ascertained the kind of environment that it will be, then you can easily decide if you want to attend and can prepare yourself in advance. One good question to ask yourself is this: ‘Would these people still be getting together if alcohol was not involved?’. If the answer is no, then it is probably not the safest place for you to be.
2. Bring a buddy.
It is always a good idea to take a friend or family member along who knows of your situation and will support you by also not drinking. This will put you at ease since you are not the only one remaining sober, and they can help you get some sober fun activities started. As well, they will be a sober person to talk to if the other guests have had a few cocktails too many and are too much to handle. And if it should come down to it, they can also be your second will power should you feel the urge to take a drink.
3. Be in control of your own drink.
While you may think it is silly to be so pedantic about your drink around friends and family, the fact of the matter is that it is very easy for someone to forget you are staying sober and pour you something alcoholic by mistake. Always make sure you get your own drinks and watch the bartender while it is being poured to ensure that no alcohol goes into it. Also be aware that some of the people around you may not understand your circumstances, and your previous alcohol or drug addiction, and slip some alcohol into your drink in a joking manner in an attempt to help you ‘loosen up’. And – do not put your drink down on a table and return for it later. You could easily mistake your glass for one full of alcohol and be headed for a relapse with just one unintended sip.
4. Have an exit plan.
One of the most important things when staying sober at a social event is to have an exit strategy. If it gets late, or you simply start to feel uncomfortable with the level of inebriation around you, then you need to pack up and leave. Immediately. Have an excuse ready before you get to the party – you have some work to finish up, or a friend of yours needs help. If you brought a friend or family member with you, simply tell them you need to go. If you do not get to say goodbyes, do not worry. Send an email or call the hosts the next day with a heart-felt thank you, and an apology for not saying goodbye before you left.
Tips on How to Have Fun Sober
Now that we have got the real important stuff out of the way, we can continue with tips for how to also have fun when staying sober at these social gatherings. Check out the following tips on how to have fun while also maintaining your sober living goals:
One of the best ways to stay sober and have fun when you are recovering from a substance abuse disorder is to ask the host to plan some fun activities or games. Or better yet, you can bring them yourself. It will help you feel included and ensure that everyone has heaps of fun, while you are able to stay sober.
2. Make some mocktails.
Get our your (freshly washed) martini shaker or blender, and get creative with your own beverages. Bring some great juices, fresh herbs and fruits to the party and see how you can dazzle your friends with delicious, non-alcoholic ‘mocktails’ that will make even the biggest booze-enthusiast forget about alcohol for the time being. Not only will your friends thank you for providing a great addition to the party, but it is also a great way to meet new people – and you have already got an icebreaker! Not to mention, you will get to sip on delightful beverages all evening while staying sober.
3. Relax and be yourself.
Being the sober one at the party might make you feel like you are under a spotlight. ‘Is everyone looking at me? Are they talking about my illness?’ etc… But the fact is, nobody else at the party really truly cares whether or not you are drinking. They are, and that is all that matters. Having fun sober at parties can often be all about the mind-set that you are in. Be confident and engage in games and/or conversation every chance you get. There is no reason to feel shy or awkward because you are the sober one! The drunker they get (and the more secrets and embarrassing stories they share) the more dirt you have got on them the next day.
4. Get involved.
Being at a party after recovering from drug and/or alcohol addiction can be trying as we all know. However, the best way to handle the situation is to get involved. Play DJ on the stereo, or help the hosts bring out the food, clean up, or anything else they could use a hand with.
If everyone is getting too drunk and disorderly, suggest a simple game that can be played with ordinary household objects such as ‘Telephone Pictionary’. At the very least, a few people will be interested in playing, and it gets you away from the people who are there solely to get drunk.
The best way to have control over alcohol at an event, is to host the party yourself. Is it your aunt’s birthday? Offer to host it at your place. This way, you can place the main focus of the party on beautiful decorations, delicious food and creative mocktails. Plan ahead and have a day full of games and fun activities planned. It is a perfect way for you to stay sober, while also having a great time with all your family and friends.