Well, you found yourself at a get-together. Maybe it’s a wedding, and there’s an open bar, or a housewarming party and your friends brought drinks. You find yourself surrounded by beverages, and you feel like an outcast. No matter how considerate your friends and family might be about your recovery, at some point, you’ll find yourself at a gathering where everyone’s drinking, except for you.
Being the odd one out at a party can be intimidating at first, but as awkward as it might feel, it’s not the end of the world. While it might feel weird being sober around those who aren’t, it’s still possible to have a good time. Here are things to keep in mind while the party is going on around you.
You might worry about how people perceive you when you’re the only one without a drink in hand. “What if people think I’m boring? What if they think I’m a snob?” Even if people might not be bothered by your choice to celebrate sober, being the odd one out can bring about insecurities.
While some people might be rude about your new lifestyle, most people don’t drink all that much. You might find that you’re not alone in not wanting to drink even if alcohol is available.
Your choice to abstain from alcohol is yours and yours alone. Choosing to stay sober didn’t come from nowhere. There’s a reason why you decided that sobriety was the right path to take. Maybe you’re not your best self when you drink, or you are bad at controlling your limits. Perhaps you’re considering your health. Whatever the reason, it’s still valid even if the people around you are having a drink.
If someone offers you a drink, don’t feel bad for declining. Most people will be understanding. Before you attend a party, think about what you’ll say when someone does offer you a drink. A simple “no, thanks” will do. People who mean well might ask why, and you can choose to explain that you’re in recovery if you feel comfortable. However, you don’t owe anyone your truth if you don’t want to. You can say something like, “I have to get up early in the morning,” or “I’m the designated driver,” even if it’s not true.
Sobriety means learning to speak up for yourself. Respect your own boundaries even if others don’t. Assert these boundaries confidently and politely. If the person starts pressuring you or is mean to you because you’ve enforced your boundary, then it’s time to leave that conversation.
If you feel out of place at a party, grab a non-alcoholic drink like a mocktail or a soda. Even consider bringing your own beverage if you’re not sure there will be non-alcoholic options. Having a drink in your hands brings about fewer questions from those who might not know that you’re in recovery.
If you know you’re going to a party or get-together that might have alcohol, let your sponsor know ahead of time. Not only will this hold you accountable, but it will allow a trusted person who knows what you’re going through to be aware and available. Likewise, if you find yourself having a tough time, call your sponsor or a sober friend. There’s no shame in asking for help and having someone to walk you through what you’re feeling.
If you find yourself not feeling comfortable, make sure you can get home. Arrive at the party with your own transportation, make a plan to catch a taxi or a rideshare home, and know the public transit route ahead of time. Arriving by yourself or with a sober friend can make it easier to leave the party when you feel uncomfortable or stressed out. Don’t feel like you need to stay until the lights come on. There’s nothing rude about leaving a party early.
You don’t need to drink to have a great time at an event. Attending an event should make you feel good, not bad. There are plenty of ways to enjoy a party. Don’t be afraid to dance and mingle. Consider helping the host with cleaning and cooking. Keep yourself preoccupied. If you’re worried about being sober and alone, consider inviting a sober friend.
If an event is too intimidating, consider sitting this one out. Go to the wedding, but skip the reception. Visit your friend’s new house in a more intimate setting with a couple of people and no alcohol. The people in your life who love you and care about you will understand. There’s nothing wrong with saying you aren’t ready to be in a setting where there is alcohol or that you don’t feel comfortable in certain places with certain people. Your social life is important during recovery but not at the expense of your own health. It can be easy to get stuck in your head when feeling left out or around something that has brought problems in the past, but with the right mindset and allowing yourself grace, you can get through a party without feeling like an outsider. If you’re interested in learning more tips about attending gatherings while sober, contact us at (800) 643-2108.