Adjusting to life after treatment can be challenging. While in recovery you develop tools to support sobriety, but you will inevitably face challenges that may put you in difficult situations. One of the most difficult aspects of returning to life after treatment is preparing for the challenges you will face in everyday social situations.
Getting together with friends, work parties, holiday events, and other social gatherings can test the strength of your recovery. Inevitably, many of these gatherings include alcohol. Unfortunately, the use of alcohol in social settings has been normalized to the point that not partaking can make you feel self-conscious or alienated. While you are not obligated to attend every social event you are invited to, it is also not reasonable to miss out on every event. Parties, holidays, and other social gatherings are great opportunities to connect with others and form meaningful relationships. Instead of alienating yourself, it is important to find ways to navigate social events and have fun while keeping your sobriety intact.
Tips for Staying Sober at Special Events and Parties
Although social gatherings can present some challenges, you can plan ahead of time to enjoy the party without risking relapse. Some ways you can prepare ahead of time include:
- Gather more information: What kind of party is it? Will alcohol be served? Are there non-alcoholic beverages available? Who will be attending? These are just some of the many questions you can ask your host before the event. Having a better idea of what you are walking into can prepare you for certain situations. You may choose to bring your own drinks or invite a sober friend to ensure you are comfortable and enjoy the night out.
- Be prepared for questions: Depending on the scene, you will inevitably face some questions that may be difficult to answer if you are not prepared. You may be asked why you are not drinking. Under no circumstance are you required to disclose your recovery status if you do not wish to speak about it. Instead, you can keep your answers short, simple, and to the point. You can prepare an excuse or simply say “no”. Some easy responses to these questions include you do not want to drink, you are the designated driver, or that you have an early appointment in the morning. Be confident and stick to your answer no matter the situation. If you feel pressured or uncomfortable in any way, it is okay to walk away from the conversation.
- Always have your own drink: Always keep an eye on what you are drinking and watch it if someone else prepares it for you. Do not let your drink out of your sight. Even a friend who is aware of your sober status may inadvertently grab the wrong drink for you. If at all possible, you may want to consider bringing your own drinks to an event. By being in charge of what you are consuming, you can minimize the risk of someone trying to abuse the situation. It is entirely possible that someone may try to make you “loosen up” or think it’s funny to sneak alcohol into your cup. If your drink leaves your sight, do not finish it. Instead, throw it away and get another cup.
- Have a way out: As time passes, the atmosphere of the party may change. Later in the night as more people consume alcohol, you may find yourself feeling uncomfortable and ready to leave. Having a sober friend with you can help you get out of the situation quickly and safely. If you are by yourself, be sure you have the phone numbers of trusted friends who will come and get you. Do not overstay or fear being perceived as rude if you leave abruptly. It is important to prioritize your sobriety above all else.
- Determine if you need to be there: While you may be eager to get out, socialize, and spend time with others again, it is important that you do not do that at the expense of your recovery. If the situation will present you with too much temptation or makes you feel uncomfortable, do not go. Over time, you will become more confident and steadfast in how you handle these situations, but it is best not to rush yourself into these situations if you are not prepared for it.
Recovery is a life-long process and there will be countless situations in which your sobriety will be challenged. It is important to protect yourself from relapse by not putting yourself in overwhelming situations. Over time, it will become easier to face these situations with greater strength and resilience. As you learn to have fun without the use of substances, you will a new kind of joy in these experiences and appreciate them in a different way.
If you or a loved one struggle with addiction or are in need of drug or alcohol addiction treatment, get help now. Nexus Recovery Services specializes in addiction treatment and encompasses holistic therapy for the mind, body, and soul with a focus on staying active and connected to nature. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life of sobriety. We offer a free and confidential consultation. Call us to get started: 310-881-9151