Staying Sober at Summer Events
You may have thought you were the life of the party when you were drinking. Maybe others thought you were too, and likely for the wrong reasons. The life of the party is often the one who also makes a fool of his or herself as the alcohol flows freely and the inhibitions are slowly lost. Now that you’re sober, devoid of the alcohol that helped you to forget your morals and be someone you could NEVER be sober, you may think that you also can’t be the life of the party--but that is so very untrue! Staying sober at this year’s family BBQ or summer event doesn’t mean you won’t have fun and BE fun to be around. In fact, it’s like that you will have MORE fun at the event sober, and more importantly, you will remember it for a lifetime! However, if you're newly navigating your sobriety, summer parties can be an interesting challenge in your recovery. No longer are you protected by the confines of the walls of a treatment center, and you are no longer safely connected with ONLY others who are practicing recovery alongside you. You'll have to figure out how to attend social events without alcohol at some point, and there's no better time than summer to get started! Here's how you can make sure that the next summer barbecue or party doesn’t leave you questioning your sober decisions or feeling like you made a big mistake. Follow these steps to stay sober, all summer.
Set Your Boundaries Up-Front
If you’re still uncomfortable with boundaries, you may consider reaching out to a recovery coach or a peer for some help here BEFORE you show up at the event. Unfortunately, when people drink, they can overlook the value of others and they may not respect your boundaries. This means that if you’re attending a party with alcohol involved, there’s a good chance that your boundaries will not be properly respected. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t set out the boundaries before you go! If you’re not sure whether you will tell others that you are sober, consider alternative reasons to back up your “no, thank you’s” when drinks are offered. Rehearse the dialogue in your mind in advance so that you are well-prepared when you are confronted with the, “Why not?” or “Oh, common it’s just one drink,” because you most certainly will be confronted with the situation at some point. If you’re not ready to announce your sobriety, consider the following answers to the common, “Why aren’t you having a few drinks with us?” question:
- I'm just not in the mood to drink today, thanks anyway.
- I'm on a strict “No-alcohol” diet.
- I’ve got a real early morning ahead and want to be my best tomorrow.
- I chose to be the designated driver this time so others could have fun.
Choose your Drink of Choice as Soon as You Arrive
As soon as you get to the BBQ or party, find the bar and order yourself or grab yourself something non-alcoholic. If you can manage to get a drink before you ever even see anyone you recognize, there’s a good chance someone won’t offer to make your drinking decision for you. If you’re going to a party at a friends house or somewhere that you can’t “order” a drink of your own, and you’re worried about someone forcing a drink into your hand, bring your drink to the party or cookout with you. If you enter the party with a drink in your hand, your chances of not having to recite the whole “I’m not drinking because XYZ….” scenario are increased! Grab a coffee on your way or stop and get a Slurpee before you arrive. Whatever your drink of choice is, if you have a non-alcoholic drink in your hand, you should be good!
Chauffeur Yourself and Have an Exit Plan in Place
By driving yourself to the event you know you can get away whenever you need to. If that means you leave 10 minutes into the visit, so be it. Your sobriety is most important here. Driving yourself ensures that you remain in control of your own destiny. Carpooling doesn’t necessarily provide you with this benefit and could be risky, especially if you’re newly sober. Likewise, if you're the one driving, you have a foolproof excuse NOT to drink. You can’t drink and drive, and if you drove yourself, there’s nobody to drive your car back home. You are your own designated driver--and your safety should be of immediately importance to those around you. If not, you’re at the wrong summer party and may want to consider leaving anyway! Also, if you drive yourself, you can embark in your exit plan without the help of someone else or without having to rely on someone else. Make sure you have your exit plan in place before you arrive and that you have already told yourself what situations WILL guarantee lead you to leave immediately--things like:
- If you see a fight about to happen, you leave.
- If you see someone crying and miserable, you leave.
- If you start to feel triggered in any way, you leave.
- If you feel cravings that are creeping in over all the fun, you leave.
Trust your instincts, and leave before you feel disappointed in your decision to stay. There will be other summer parties and your sobriety is more valuable than a couple of hours outside.
Bring a Sober Buddy
This is especially true if you’re newly sober. Bring someone with you to the party of event that is also sober. This way, you have someone to talk to and to support you throughout the event. If you’re already at a party and feeling like you need backup, log into Pocket Rehab and seek some support in real-time. You can find others on there that are sober and you may even find someone to hang out with at your next summer event. If you’re not already using Pocket Rehab to connect with others in recovery, consider this sobriety app a must! You can calculate sober days, keep a journal of your recovery, and connect with others that are also walking the sober walk. Keep track of how you’re feeling and watch as your sobriety evolves into a lifestyle with each and every day. Although drinking may be ingrained into the things we do and the ways we spend our time throughout America, a barbeque or summer party does not have to mean relying on alcohol to have fun. There’s plenty to see and do without alcohol--if you’re still unsure, ask others in Pocket Rehab for some advice--they won’t steer you in the wrong direction!
Tags: staying sober, sober, sober activities, sober parties, sober summer, recovery