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In recovery, isolation can be harmful. It’s important to reach out to friends and maintain or mend relationships. But social gatherings can be tricky to navigate in sobriety. One of the reasons alcohol addiction is so prominent and enduring is because of its far-reaching availability. Most restaurants, grocery stores, parties, and work functions carry the possibility of encountering alcohol. Even though the temptation of alcohol might be present, it is possible to successfully navigate a party as long as you set boundaries and maintain them. Here are some options:
Know What to Expect
It may be in your best interest to do some reconnaissance with the host so you can plan ahead for what to expect from the event. Is everyone going to be doing shots and singing karaoke? Or is it board game night with a charcuterie board and wine pairing? These details can be little indicators of what to be on guard for and prepare accordingly. Shots and karaoke may pose more of a challenge and exercise in restraint than board games and a glass of wine. It’s up to you to assess what is manageable for you in your recovery journey and sober lifestyle.
Attend With a Friend
This could mean a sponsor or someone close to you who is aware of your situation. Bringing a friend affords you the option of support should you find that you need it. It’s important not to think of the person you bring as a chaperone but a resource you can rely on if you feel you are no longer in control. At the end of the day only you know your limits. It’s important to pay attention to how you’re feeling and reach out when you need to.
Of course, it’s also a good idea to reach out for support in general. There are opportunities for AA meetings all across the country and some people find it beneficial to attend a meeting before encountering a known stressor or trigger.
Bring Your Own Beverages
Attending parties in sobriety doesn’t necessarily mean disclosing your situation and history to the host if you’re uncomfortable with it. Bringing your own non-alcoholic drinks or mocktail ingredients is absolutely an option. If anyone asks and you don’t want to disclose your recovery journey, you can say you’re the designated driver or you work early the next day.
Be Comfortable With Leaving Early or Taking a Break
If you find that attending a party is too much too fast, leave. Step outside to take a breather and regroup or simply leave the event early. If going back in to say goodbye is too much, send a text instead of trying to go back in. Your comfort and safety is the top priority.
Don’t get discouraged if you find that attending parties is still too much or overwhelming. Take pride in the fact that you know your own boundaries and respect them in your sober lifestyle journey.
Provide Non-Alcoholic Options
The instinct here may be to try and serve non-alcoholic beer or mocktails but keep in mind that some people in recovery find this just as triggering as actual alcohol. Make sure to have the basics available as well: water, soda, tea, and juice. Be vocal about the available options and make sure your attendees know about the non-alcoholic options. Point these out to every guest instead of singling out only your sober friends.
On that note, it’s very important to also make sure your guests know about items that contain alcohol where it is not readily apparent. Jungle juice or sangria, for instance, could be seen as a regular non-alcoholic party punch. Labeling food and beverages accordingly could also prevent a disastrous mix-up and ensure everyone knows what they are consuming.
Advocate for Your Sober Guests
You may be aware of a guest’s sobriety and feel confident in navigating that aspect. However other guests may not be aware and unknowingly offer a drink to someone in recovery. They may even become insistent and pushy in their obliviousness. There are ways to work around these unwanted interactions without exposing what may be private information about your guest’s sober lifestyle.
Redirect the conversation to pull the attention away from the situation or remove the instigating guest from the interaction. This could be as simple as saying, “Hey, have I shown you the new speaker system for the living room?” and leading the instigator away from the recovering guest. Another option is to be more confrontational by saying something like, “I would appreciate it if you didn’t pressure anyone into drinking tonight.” Regardless of whether you have a guest in recovery in attendance, trying to convince anyone to drink is a serious party foul.
Shift the Focus
Sometimes it can feel like the entire goal of a party is to drink and it doesn’t have to be that way. Prioritize an activity or the food over the drink options so that guests get more substance from interacting with one another than grabbing another beer. Video games provide an excellent opportunity because not only are they engaging but they keep a controller in your guests’ hands rather than a beverage, alcoholic or otherwise.
Support With Eudaimonia
No matter where you are in your recovery, Eudaimonia Sober Living Homes can provide support every step of the way. We have facilities for sober living in Austin, Houston, and Colorado Springs ready to assist you in living your sober lifestyle.