If you’ve been able to stay sober for a year or two, you might feel ready to attend an event that has alcohol. You might feel prepared to face the challenge of answering the question, “Can I get you a drink?” In fact, no matter how you long you’ve been in recovery, you might get invited to an event that has alcoholic beverages because of how alcohol is welcomed in our society – despite the damage it causes.
There might be a wedding in the family you need to attend or a 4th of July barbecue. Whatever the event, if you have at least a year of sobriety, then you might feel ready to attend an event with alcohol and stay sober. You may not feel as though it were going to be a threat. Certainly, if you feel threatened or if you have a year or less of sobriety, then it might be best to stay home. To avoid relapse, it may be better to avoid the celebration altogether.
Facing the Challenges
However, at some point in your recovery, you might feel ready to face the social challenges of not drinking alcohol when most everyone else is. The following are suggestions to consider to ensure your sobriety while, at the same time, enjoying the event you’re attending.
- Get yourself a glass of water or a non-alcoholic drink. Holding a glass in your hands lets people know that you’re covered. There will be less of a chance that someone will buy a drink for you or coerce you into drinking if you’re empty-handed.
- Be prepared to answer questions. If the topic of why you’re not drinking alcohol comes up, have a very clear answer prepared before you arrive. There are many possible answers, including the truthful answer: you are a recovering alcoholic. No matter what answer you decide upon, you might want to practice your response until you feel 100% confident in it.
- Prepare a strategy for leaving even before you arrive. There might be a point at the gathering when you might begin to feel the discomforts of the atmosphere. It may be reminding you of the past and/or calling you to want to get buzzed just like everyone else. Just like having prepared responses, it’s also best to have an already prepared strategy for leaving. With some social gatherings, you might not need this. You can simply pick up and leave. But with others, especially with those you know well, it may be more socially appropriate to have a reason for leaving. This is another answer you might need to have prepared before you arrive.
These are suggestions to consider when attending an event with alcohol. Of course, before you attend it’s best to prepare as much as possible, as suggested above. Your number one priority is sobriety and there’s no point in sabotaging that for the social demands of an event. If you feel the social demands are too great, it’s best to stay home. If you need assistance with this, contact a mental health provider, your sponsor, or a drug counselor.