As someone in recovery, it will only be a matter of time before you start getting invited to social gatherings. From work related holiday parties and weddings to informal get-togethers and a last minute nights out on the town. These gatherings are a way to interact with old friends and form new relationships. Many times, alcohol and possibly other substances may make an appearance at these social outings, potentially causing negative consequences for someone in recovery who isn’t properly prepared. The good news is there are many ways to prepare yourself to be in social social gatherings with sobriety. The best way to prepare is to have a solid plan in place. Here are some tips to help you create that plan:
Be realistic and honest with yourself.
If you have been invited to a gathering where you know alcohol or other substances will be readily available, ask yourself how comfortable you truly feel being in that atmosphere. You always have the choice of not going. Remember, your sobriety and recovery come first over any type of social gathering, and plenty of other invitations will come your way.
Ask questions and prepare for the outing.
If you are planning to attend an event, don’t hesitate from asking the host questions to help you prepare and ultimately decide if you should attend. There is no harm in finding out if non-alcoholic drinks will be provided, who will be in attendance, and if there might be other people there who aren’t drinking. If non-alcoholic beverages will not be provided, feel free to bring your own. If you see other event attendees who seem to be staying away from alcohol, introduce yourself – you never know, you might make some great new friends who are on the same journey as you. Last, find out if you can bring a guest. Having an encouraging friend or family member with you can also help you feel more confident and offer extra support in case you feel tempted.
At almost any social gathering, people offer one another a drink. And, if you decline on the offer, you most likely will receive an inquire as to why. Be confident and assertive, while also being friendly. Plan your answers ahead of time. They can be simple responses, such as, “Just drinking (insert your non-alcoholic drink of choice) tonight. Have a big day tomorrow,” or “Not feeling the need to drink tonight, but thanks for the offer.” Most people will back off, and for those who seem extra pushy, feel free to remove yourself from the situation and get back to the fun.
To stay on track with your recovery and assure you have a good time at your social event, remember to always get your own drinks and make sure to watch the drink as it is being made. In addition, stick by the old rule: if you have walked away from your drink for any length of time, get a new one. Someone may accidentally put their alcoholic drink near yours or even put something in your drink to help you “loosen up”. While this may seem like a little joke to them, it could mean a major speed-bump in your recovery.
It may seem challenging at first, but you can have a great time without alcohol being involved. The tips above may seem extreme but over time, they will become second nature. Let your natural personality shine through, meet new people and enjoy the excitement of the gathering you are attending, all without any regrets the next day.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.