Some people think that in order to have a good time at a party or social event, there needs to be alcohol. Not everyone who thinks this is an alcoholic or even has a problem with alcohol. This makes it harder to draw the line between someone who does have a dependency and someone who is a social drinker. Either way, people with this mindset are mistaken. There is no shortage of ways to have fun and enjoy the company of others. But, this is easier said than done, especially if you are a recovering alcoholic. How can you learn to enjoy parties and get-togethers while being sober?
First, Know That You’re Ready
The most important element in all of this is knowing that you are ready to go to places where alcohol will be. Everyone is different. Some recovering addicts stay away from alcohol entirely while others are able to tolerate it. You must know yourself, your strengths and your limitations. If you’re not sure, talk to your mentor, your counselor or those in your 12-step meetings.
At The RS, we do recommend staying away from environments where drugs and alcohol are going to be in early recovery. It is too risky to put yourself in a position that you may not be ready for. That being said, there comes a time where you will have to go outside your comfort zone. If you feel like you are ready to venture out, here are some tips for having good, clean sober fun at a party.
Have a Non-Alcoholic Drink in Your Hand
One of the first things that people are asked when they walk into a party is what they would like to drink. Hopefully, you have been practicing your drink refusal skills, but you can also kindly request a beverage – a bottle of water, a can of soda or even a fun mocktail. Some people say that it helps to have something in their hand, otherwise they have nervous energy that they don’t know what to do with. They end up crossing their arms or putting their hands in their pocket, and this makes them look more cut off. Another benefit of having a drink in your hand: it stops people from offering you a drink, which can be uncomfortable.
Recovering addicts often admit that the reason they attended a party after treatment was because they missed being ‘normal.’ Fun comes in many ways, but sometimes it feels good to be where everyone else is. Take the time to make friends and talk to people, and don’t let the fact that you are sober and probably a bit self conscious hold you back. People often drink alcohol because they want to loosen up and be more social, but you can skip that step and go right to feeling confident and social.
Find Things to Do
One of the worst things you can do is cut yourself off from dancing or playing games because you’re sober and more aware of your surroundings. There is no reason why you can’t participate in things, so find something to do to occupy the time. Some recovering addicts suggest taking control of the music at a party. You can build a great playlist and keep everyone dancing and having a great time – and you need a clear, sober head to think of different songs to play. Plus, people will talk to you because they want to request songs. Or, take part in the drinking games and have someone drink for you.
Give Yourself a Curfew
Anytime you extend yourself beyond your comfort zone, it’s important to set limitations. We highly recommend bringing a sober friend along because the buddy system really works. If this isn’t possible, make sure you set limits beforehand, and an important one is having a curfew. Past a certain time, you’re more likely to get bored and have more opportunities to drink. Decide in advance how long you’re comfortable staying at the party and leave at that time. And remember – you won’t have to experience a hangover the next morning!
Have an Exit Strategy
You can’t control the actions of others, so if the party goes in a direction that makes you uncomfortable or you find that you weren’t ready to attend a party with alcohol, you need to leave. It’s not worth risking your entire recovery just to fit in or push yourself beyond your limits. Have an exit strategy in place before you attend the party, such as a reliable, sober friend on call. It’s also smart to drive yourself so that you have the option to leave when you want rather than depending on someone else.
Never put yourself in a situation where you will be uncomfortable. As you complete more time in recovery and feel that you are ready to go out more, rest assured that you can be the life of the party without being drunk.