Probably one of the biggest issues for people new to recovery is what to do about staying sober at non-sober parties or functions. Our Orange County drug and alcohol treatment center has seen a lot of slips, and these are some of the things we suggest to people now that the New Year is approaching.
Ask yourself why you are going.
First and foremost, why are you actually going to this party? Is it something that you have to attend, or is it something that you are opting to attend because you want to relive “the good times”? If we have a legitimate reason for being there, we are less likely to relapse than if we are going only to vicariously take pleasure in the drinking of others.
Get to a meeting before going.
It never hurts to get that little bit of reinforcement before being sober at non-sober parties. Nothing ruins a drink or a high quite like a head full of recovery, and stocking up on those silly clichés can actually make a difference in whether or not testing the waters again seems like a good idea.
Keep your sponsor’s number close—as always!
Of course, recovery happens when one alcoholic talks with another alcoholic, and since our sponsors tend to know the most about our histories, having their numbers close can mean the difference between taking the drink and not taking the drink. Remember: we can’t ask for help if we don’t say anything.
Tell others that you are going before you go.
Don’t be a secret. The more people who know you are going, the less inclined you will be to try to get away with “maybe having just one.” Although no human power can relieve us of our alcoholism and addiction, it can go a long way in helping us solidify that relationship with a Higher Power, calling deep within for the strength to see us through without taking that rink or drug.
See what you can bring to the party.
Not chips or bean dip—although, if it’s that sort of thing, knock yourself out.
No, we’re talking about what you can offer to the party by being there. Don’t look at it as “What do I get out of going?” Instead, look at it as, “What can I offer that no one else can?” Being of service to others is one of the best ways to keep sober, and since we practice these principles in all our affairs, it never hurts to see how you can make the party an enjoyable experience for the hosts and the others there.
Of course, you probably don’t want to play bartender or act as the “entertainment” by getting tanked and acting like a buffoon.
If someone asks why you are sober at non-sober parties…
You can always say the designated driver. It isn’t a lie, even if you are at one of these non-sober gatherings by yourself. You’re making sure you’re getting home safely.
These days, if anyone pushes the DD to have a drink in a group full of people, they quickly find themselves to be the unpopular ones, no matter how out-of-place you may feel at the moment. Most people let it go, but if they don’t, they quickly find that no one wants a drunk out on the road—especially if they are responsible for the safety and welfare of others, and will back you up.
Drug and alcohol recovery has exploded in recent decades, and many times, it just so happens that there are others recovery trying to stay sober at non-sober parties or gatherings. Just having another person there who has the same disease can help keep that stinkin’ thinkin’ at bay.