However long you’ve been sober, you will inevitably end up having to attend social events or obligations around people that are drinking and who may not be familiar with your situation. There can be any number of awkward incidents that come up in a social gathering when you are one of the few sober people attending. People might politely offer you alcohol or even mistakenly buy you a drink without realizing that you quit drinking. It can be stressful to be in this type of environment especially if you are used to spending time mostly among other sober people. Although you may feel uncomfortable there is no reason to avoid social obligations simply because you are sober.
These are some strategies you can take to help you cope with parties, conferences, weddings or any social event that might involve alcohol.
1. Bring a Sober Friend
If you are really worried about attending a certain social event where you don’t know anyone, it may be helpful to have a safety net. Inviting a sober friend as your plus one can make you feel less isolated when everyone around you is drinking. You will have someone there who understands your situation and may be experiencing a lot of the same feelings. With a sober friend you will have someone supporting you and you can rely on each other to get through the night. Bringing someone from your inner circle will almost certainly guarantee you will have a better time.
2. Drink Non-Alcoholic Beverages or Mocktails
Sometimes it may feel strange not to have a drink in your hand or something to do as you walk around and mingle. You can drink plenty of water, soda, juice or even order a virgin drink or mocktail. This can help you avoid people offering you an alcoholic beverage because you already have a drink in your hand. It can also make you feel less like you are sticking out like a sore thumb when everyone else is drinking something. If the party offers food or snacks they can also be a good distraction and will help you enjoy the experience a little more.
3. Be a Designated Driver
If you have the option to be the driver for someone else who is drinking then this can help you feel more comfortable in social situations. If you don’t feel like going into detail about why you don’t drink, being a designated driver gives you a quick explanation about your sobriety for the night. If you want to leave early you can always offer to drive someone else at the moment they are leaving so you won’t have to stick around longer than you want to. Being a designated driver also gives you a sense of purpose and can keep you focused on staying sober.
4. Be Prepared with What You Want to Say
Although you may find ways to avoid the conversation, you should always think about what you want to say if someone asks why you aren’t drinking. In some cases you may feel comfortable enough to tell them that you quit because it was a problem. With someone you don’t know very well, however, you might not be ready to tell them something so personal. There are plenty of answers that will suffice such as saying that you are not drinking for health reasons, you want to drive home sober or that you have to wake up early. It is always your choice who you want to tell about your personal life and there is nothing wrong with skirting the issue or giving lighter answers.
5. Have a Backup Plan
Even parties you are really nervous about may end up being uneventful, but in the case where you are really starting to feel anxious, tempted to drink or simply too uncomfortable it always good to have a backup strategy. You should have someone on hand that you know you can call for support if you can’t physically bring a friend. This could be your sponsor, someone you know from recovery or just a close friend that you trust. Talking to them might help you deal with the feelings you are having so that you can calm down and return to the party. If you are still feeling out of sorts should always have an excuse ready in case you need to leave early. When you are too stressed out the best option is just to tell the host you aren’t feeling well and leave right away.
As time passes, attending social obligations as a sober person becomes much easier and you learn how to handle any situation that comes up. The important thing is to be prepared and take care of yourself in whatever way necessary so that you are able to stay sober.