What To Do If You’re Newly Sober And You’re Invited To A Holiday Party With Alcohol?

Categories: Life in Recovery
Newly Sober

The holidays can be really challenging for people in recovery. Being around people who are drinking and merry-making can be tough especially if you are still newly sober. While staying at home is the surefire way to avoid these triggers, there will be times when attending an event where alcohol is being served is unavoidable.

So, what are you supposed to do if you find yourself invited to a holiday party that serves alcohol? What if you can’t say no but at the same time, you are not comfortable with sharing with the other guests that you are in addiction recovery? How do you avoid the alcohol or at least keep yourself safe from triggers?  If there is no option to decline the invitation, read on to find some of our suggestions below that can help you cope during the event.

Come early so you can leave early

If you cannot avoid going to an event, try to arrive early so you can also excuse yourself earlier. This can work for events you’re attending wherein your appearance is required but you don’t necessarily need to finish the entire thing like company parties, weddings, reunions, or family dinners.

A lot of times, the heavy drinking occurs during the end part of many events – after the meal, speeches, games, or whatever else is on the agenda are done. By arriving early, you can still participate in the other activities without necessarily being forced to drink after.

Bring your own non-alcoholic beverage

When attending a family dinner or a potluck with friends, you can bring your own non-alcoholic beverage so that you won’t be tempted to drink alcohol. There are now many non-alcoholic beverage options that come in nice bottles that are fancy enough to bring to a party. You can even try to make your own mocktail concoction and bring it to the party.

Be prepared with a valid excuse why you are not drinking

Holiday Party With AlcoholWhen you are offered a drink, saying that you don’t drink can bring unwanted attention to yourself. It could be followed by intrusive questions that you might not really want to answer or talk about in a party setting.

So instead of answering that you don’t drink or you’re trying to quit drinking, try to give an excuse that will not be questioned or will be accepted with no eyebrows raised. Below are some response options that you can use especially in events where there is a mix of people you’re not really close to such as office parties.

  • I am on allergy medications / antibiotics so I’m not supposed to drink alcohol.
  • I’m driving tonight.
  • I need to be up at 5 am to pick up someone at the airport.

Mingle with people who are not drinking

A good way to avoid being offered alcohol is to stay away from those who are drinking. Obviously, if everyone in the group is drinking, you will also be expected to drink. However, if you cluster yourself with people who are not drinking, then you are in better company.

Always have a non-alcoholic drink in your hand

When people around you see that your hands are empty, the natural question will be “Why are you not drinking?”. To avoid this, keep a non-alcoholic drink in your hand at all times. This can be a soft drink, a club soda, or a mocktail.

You don’t need to divulge that you’re drinking something non-alcoholic to avoid any pressing questions. By holding on to a beverage glass, most people will assume that you are drinking something alcoholic.

Keep nibbling on food

Another trick to keep yourself occupied and prevent people from asking you why you’re not drinking is to eat. Snack on some cheese, fruit, canapes, or whatever is available at the event. If there is a buffet table, station yourself near there and chat with people getting food instead of being near people who are drinking. If it is a sit-down dinner, eat slowly and try everything.

Make it look like you’re having fun

Newly Sober During HolidayFor some people, the idea of having fun in an event is having lots of alcohol. They often push you to drink so you can loosen up and enjoy the party. If you look awkward, uptight, and uncomfortable, the more people will offer you alcohol. However, if you look like you’re having the time of your life, people will think that you’re all set and you don’t need any alcohol to enjoy.

Take someone who can watch over you

If you’re not confident that you can totally avoid alcohol, take a sober buddy who can watch over you. The role of this person is to remind you that you should not drink. Having someone with you can lower the chances of you just giving up and having a drink.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, help is available.

Contact Anaheim Lighthouse today.

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