28 May Attending Parties Sober

Social engagements can feel a little overwhelming for a person recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, especially during your first few years of sobriety. You can try to avoid places where other people will be drinking or using drugs for a while, but chances are that you’ll eventually have to confront them in the form of a holiday party at work, a wedding, or some other event where alcohol will be served. Don’t feel guilty about turning down invitations until you feel like you’ve built up some resistance. When you are ready to take that step and attend a party, keep these tips in mind to make you feel more comfortable:

Before You Go Out: Let your sponsor know that you’re going out, give them your location, and tell them when you will be home. This will make you accountable for your actions during the party. This will also give your sponsor the opportunity to give you a much needed pep talk about all the progress you’ve made and remind you of your goals. If you feel like the pressure is getting to be too much while you’re out, call your sponsor and have them come pick you up.

Protect Yourself: Not everyone knows your situation, and it’s easy to end up with an alcoholic drink in your hand when you didn’t expect it. Sometimes it’s an honest mistake, and sometimes people will try to slip you some alcohol on purpose. Here are a few things you can do to guard against this.

Keep a drink in your hand to discourage people from offering you a drink. Sprite, Coke, or some virgin version of a fruity drink will work fine.
Don’t let anyone buy you a drink who doesn’t know that you have a problem and who you don’t trust completely.
Tell one of the bartenders that you don’t drink and order your drinks from him all night. Bartenders have seen plenty of people in your position and will help look out for you.
Never put your drink down so that no one can have the chance to put a shot or something else in it. If you forget and put your drink down, just go get another one.

Maintain Your Confidence: Don’t feel like you have to tell the other people at the party that you are in recovery if you don’t want to. It’s none of their business and you don’t owe them an explanation. As stated before, carrying a non-alcoholic drink around will keep the vast majority of people from noticing that you’re not drinking. If someone that you haven’t confided in asks you about it, lie. Say something simple like you’re on an antibiotic and can’t have alcohol or tell them you’re the designated driver for the night and you’ve already had enough. While honesty is paramount for those in recovery, you don’t have to tell your life story to a stranger.

Leave the Door Open: If you find yourself in an uncomfortable position while you’re out, or if you’re feeling pressured to have a drink, leave. Don’t waste any time or risk your sobriety, just say you aren’t feeling well and get out of there. Call your sponsor, a trusted friend or family member, or a fellow addict on your way and get yourself to a safe place. Sometimes we need to take baby steps and it’s okay if you can’t stay for the whole party.

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