For those of us that have struggled with alcohol addiction, many of the real challenges in recovery come after we have completed a treatment program. While admitting you have a problem and asking for help is a necessary and critical step in your recovery, the situations you will face in the real world during early sobriety will undoubtedly put you to the test and force you to hold yourself accountable. For many people whose lives once revolved around drinking, it can be difficult to avoid every social, and sometimes professional, event that involves alcohol. While it is important to wait until you are confident in your sobriety before putting yourself in potentially triggering situations, there are some strategies that can make parties and holidays fun and exciting without the alcohol.
Drink Something Delicious
Having a drink in your hand is often the first line of defense against pushy friends and colleagues when you are avoiding alcohol. Try to choose something other than water so that you feel like you are having a treat. A soda or tea works, but a mocktail is even better. Mocktails can be made to taste like a wide variety of cocktails and served in a fancy glass, only sans alcohol (so they taste even better)! Virgin mojitos are especially tasty and look like the real thing if you are trying to avoid prying questions about your beverage choice. Of course, always be aware of your triggers and avoid drinking anything that may be too similar to the alcoholic drinks you once favored.
Enjoy Saving Money
If you are at a bar or restaurant while the people around you are drinking, try taking a mental note of the cost of each drink you see ordered. People tend to spend far more than a drink is worth, especially in trendy or upscale settings, and continue to spend more as their inhibitions begin to diminish. With the money you save by ordering non-alcoholic drinks, you can take yourself to dinner and a movie the next day while your friends nurse their hangovers!
Fake it ‘Till You Make It
This old advice can be helpful in this scenario, but it may not mean what you think. You should never have to fake intoxication to feel at ease around your friends, but you may be able to fake some of the benefits you believed you once received from alcohol until they become genuine manifestations of your personality. For example, many people drink because they love to dance but feel self-conscious dancing in front of a room full of people while sober. Dance anyway! Push yourself to do the things you have never done sober and pretend you have the courage and confidence you once believed you had while you were drunk. Chances are that without alcohol you will be a better dancer, karaoke singer, and conversationalist anyway! Confidence is something that can be learned and developed, but it’s okay to employ some acting skills in the meantime.
Make Plans for the Next Morning
One of the greatest gifts of sobriety is being able to say goodbye to hangovers for good. When you are surrounded by drinkers at a party or bar, chances are almost everyone you see will spend the next morning, and perhaps the entire day, stuck to the couch in a zombie-like state, suffering from headaches, nausea, and even crippling anxiety. But not you! Plan something fun for the morning after a night out, such as a hike or an early breakfast at a trendy new restaurant you’ve been wanting to check out. While everyone drinks, take comfort in the fact that you will have a productive morning because you chose sobriety.
Enjoy the Power of No Regrets
For those of us who once fell victim to the cycle of binge drinking, blackouts and embarrassing behavior are all too familiar. It can be an incredibly empowering relief to walk into a social event or professional function and know without a doubt that you will not act inappropriately, or forget what you said and to whom. Being in complete control of your words and actions is the greatest benefit of sobriety, and while you hold your head high and preserve your dignity, you may witness those around you fail to do the same. Even people who don’t drink to the point of blacking out tend to get louder and increasingly obnoxious as the evening progresses and the liquor flows. Try not to hold it against them, as you were once in their shoes, but remember to leave the party if everyone becomes sloppy and you are no longer having genuine fun. Sobriety means you are now free to choose who you want to be around and for how long, not to mention safely drive yourself home!
If you believe you or someone you love has developed an addiction to alcohol, now is the time to seek help. At Burning Tree, you will find knowledgeable and compassionate professionals that structure treatment to fit individual needs, including the identification of co-occurring disorders. Through accountability and commitment to the 12 steps, each client will develop the tools to create a sober lifestyle and find lasting recovery. We specialize in the treatment of chronic relapsers and believe with the right support you can experience true and permanent healing. For more information, call us now at 866-287-2877