5 Helpful Tips for Staying Sober at Social Events

March 16, 2017

What do birthday celebrations, holiday parties, and office socials all have in common? All these events pose potential problems for a recovering alcoholic. Sometimes the easiest thing to do would be strict avoidance of all social functions, just in case the temptation to drink alcohol is too strong. If you are in your first year as a recovering alcoholic, then perhaps avoidance is the best solution.

In my first year, I could not attend any events where alcohol was being served. The longer I stayed away from drinking alcohol, the easier it became to enhance my refusal skills and improve my self-confidence. I learned to appreciate being around people as a sober and rational party animal. First, your commitment to yourself is more important than to any social commitments.

But in contemporary society, staying away from all alcoholic enticements may not be always be realistic, especially if your coworkers or friends like to socialize with alcohol. So how can you continue to attend social events where alcoholic beverages are served? It is possible to strengthen your resolve while being in close proximity to alcohol. For multiple reasons, even non-alcoholics should strive not to get drunk at a social event. Here are five tips that anyone can use to stay sober at a party.

Create a workable plan

Before you even arrive at the party, develop a strategic response to possible scenarios. Role-play potential questions and your responses. “Would you like a beer or a cocktail?’’ to which you reply, “Thanks, but I will just have a Coke.” Also, rehearse your actions when your coworkers or friends start to get drunk. Will you leave or stay at the event? Be prepared with a written list of how you can respond to various questions and scenarios. Then you will not be frazzled when someone hands you a glass of wine and says, “Try this–you will like it.” After all, practice makes perfect.

Enlist support

Everyone needs a friend, especially recovering alcoholics. When I was trying to stay sober, I had two close mentors, plus several more understanding coworkers.

This network of support got me through many traps–especially at parties. When I felt like ordering a drink, I would either text or talk to one of these close friends.

Since I didn’t have alcohol at home, my main temptation was at social functions, and I could always count on one of these friends to be there for me.

Sometimes when we were together at parties, a friend would lead me away from the beverage area, so I would not be tantalized with the aroma of alcohol. Ask members of your support group to hold you accountable with daily or weekly updates on your sobriety progress.

Help yourself

It’s important that you don’t drink anything you didn’t serve yourself. Someone might accidentally, or intentionally, give you something with alcohol. If you feel pressure to conform, you can drink a nonalcoholic beverage and make it look like what everyone else is drinking. Before the party, do online research to find a non-alcoholic drink that you like and order it at the bar.

My favorite is a glitzy pink sugar-rimmed Cosmo (short for Cosmopolitan) with a maraschino cherry. If fooling fellow partygoers is your aim, then a drink like this just might do the trick. The big difference is that you will be enjoying the party sober!

Be ready to bolt

If all else fails, bolt. This might seem simplistic, but it actually can work. If you feel the need, offer a vague reason why you need to leave, but don’t worry too much. Your true friends will understand your actions as to why you have to leave suddenly.

Most important is that you leave the alluring alcohol scene without being tempted to drink. Avoiding or ignoring the attractive snares of alcohol is sometimes possible, but when it is not, then run away. Quickly.

Reflect on being sober

The Greek maxim of “Know Thyself” is a reminder of the need to reflect on our actions and ourselves. By reflecting on the value of your sobriety, you can gain a powerful motivational tool. By being more in touch with yourself, you can ask questions such as “How does alcohol make me feel after I get drunk?” Often a negative physical association can lead to a positive change of behavior, namely to refuse any alcohol.

When I was in sobriety mode, I told myself that I would actually vomit if

I ever drank any alcohol. In this way, I convinced myself not to be tempted. This plan actually worked for me. Reflect on what methods might work for you, and write them in a journal. Then keep track of your daily progress so you can reward yourself weekly with your favorite (I favor hot chocolate with cream) non-alcoholic drink.

If you’ve read this far, then you realize by now that it is possible to attend social functions where alcohol is served and still remain sober. Few people would claim it is easy for a recovering alcoholic to avoid alcohol, especially at an enticing social scene with friends and coworkers. Yet these five tips can go far in helping anyone to avoid drinking alcohol at social functions.

The benefits of staying sober extend far beyond recovering alcoholics. When the partygoers stay sober, then they can still drive and walk safely. All of us can benefit when we are more in control of our desires and habits.

Have you experienced similar difficulties while attending a party? If so, what specific ideas helped you to stay sober? How did you overcome social pressure? Please share your experiences and ideas in the comment section.

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