A common fear for many people who are just getting sober is how will they maintain their sobriety through weddings, super bowl parties, family gatherings, or the like. It is a real dilemma and something that people who are just getting sober many times cannot comprehend. I know this was the case for me. I couldn’t imagine not being completely wasted at a place where alcohol was being served, but yet in sobriety I found that this did not need to be the case.
The reality is that alcohol plays a major part in American culture. This is not a bad thing, but what it means for the sober alcoholic is that avoiding places where alcohol will be served is a near impossibility. Luckily, having to avoid alcohol or anything related to it is not a requirement for sobriety. This means that you can go anywhere and do anything as long as you have the correct motives and your sobriety is intact.
That being said being in situations where people are drinking can be uncomfortable for people who are now sober and so I have put together some useful tips on how to navigate these social gatherings without having to result to drinking.
Tips For How To Stay Sober At Social Gatherings
I remember the first time I went to a club while receiving services for my sobriety. These sorts of situations made me uncomfortable even when I was drinking and so now completely sober I was needless to say pretty anxious. I wasn’t so much worried about drinking, as I was cognizant of the fact that everyone else seemed to be drinking with the exception of myself. I didn’t really know what to do with my hands, they felt naked without a glass in them, and so I went up to the bar and got a club soda. In full disclosure I don’t like club soba so I’m not sure why I order that, but nonetheless now having something in my hands I felt more comfortable and was able to enjoy the night with less anxiety than usual.
This is a good tip of navigating social gatherings where people may not know you that well, like a cocktail party for business or something similar, and drinking is the norm. Get yourself a non-alcoholic beverage so that you don’t have to feel completely out of place. Having a drink in your hand will also help you avoid questions like, “Hey, why aren’t you drinking” which may not be appropriate to answer in that setting. People are usually not paying as much attention to us as we believe so just having a glass in hand can help to skirt any uncomfortable feelings.
Another concern that usually comes up is how will I not be able to drink at my wedding or my kids wedding? First, majority of the times that this is asked it is in reference to an event that is not planned yet and may be 5 years off, so there is no need to worry about that until it comes. Second, when you work the Steps navigating your own wedding or the wedding of a child or friend will not be as daunting as you think. If you need to make a toast you can do it with water, or you can even do it with the champagne, just don’t drink it afterward. After working the Steps being surrounded by liquor will not be as big of a deal as you think. I can attest to this because I have been to many weddings in sobriety and none of them affected me the way I thought they were going to.
This is not to say that this will always be the case and so it is usually a good idea to have an exit strategy. For events like weddings or other social gatherings where there is a possibility that you may start to feel uncomfortable, it is smart if you drive yourself so that if you get uncomfortable you can leave. Many times in social gatherings such as these you will be surrounded with people who know you well and so if you start to feel weird about being there you can tell someone and then head out if necessary. People, especially those close to us, are normally very supportive of our sobriety and will be understanding if we need to leave.
This leads to the final scenario that most of us dread once we get sober and that is what happens if someone asks us to drink, we say no, and they continue to push. I am happy to say that I have never had this happen to me yet since I’ve been sober. This does not mean that it won’t happen but what I have found is that when you tell people no thank you to a drink they mostly stop asking.
Most people do not care that you are not drinking. I found this to be counterintuitive to everything I believed and part of the reason for this is because everyone I knew when I was drinking also drank. Our entire relationship for the most part was centered on partying and so I believed that everyone cared whether I drank or not. Once I got sober and attended enough events where people were drinking and I politely said no, I found that no one seemed to have a problem with me not drinking and if they inquired why and I told them, they were supportive.
So what should you do if you find yourself in a situation where you refuse a drink and the person continues to push? Rather than stay in the conversation and argue back and forth with them, just say no thank you again and walk away. There is no reason for you to feel bad about doing that because their attempting to force a drink on you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.
If you are newly sober or have been sober for a while and you are nervous about attending social gatherings where there is drinking, that is usually a good sign It is better to be weary of alcohol than overly confident, but what I can say is that going to events such as those listed above will not prove as challenging as you think and as long as you are spiritually fit, you’ll be just fine.