Recovery usually involves making adjustments in your lifestyle to avoid relapse triggers. But does being sober mean you can’t party again? There’s no need to withdraw from socializing and miss out on fun events such as seeing friends or going to special events. With a little planning and preparation, you can go out, have fun, and still stay sober.
Here are some tips for when you decide you are ready to party again:
Stick With Supportive Friends
When you were using, you may have done so in a group of people who had their own substance abuse issues. Spending time with old friends, especially in a party setting, could cause you to reminisce and romanticize your days of addiction. This will leave you in a vulnerable position. You could even be encouraged to relapse by people who are not on the same recovery journey as you.
If you decide to socialize in a party setting, stick with friends who understand your need to stay sober and who will support you to make good choices. Your friends can get help and give advice on how best to help you.
It is a good idea to have a friend at hand who will take care of alcohol-related issues without a fuss. For example, if you are offered an alcoholic drink by a well-meaning person, a friend can jump in and offer to get you an alcohol-free drink instead, or tell them that you don’t drink without you having to answer any follow-up questions.
A friend might decide to opt-out of drinking alcohol alongside you, but you cannot assume or expect this. You must accept that you will be around alcohol in these settings. But there are ways to feel less left out.
Bring Your Own Alcohol-Free Drink
There will likely be alcohol-free drink options at parties and events. But just in case there isn’t, it is a good idea to bring along a drink of your choice. Ensuring you have something delicious at hand will stop you from feeling left out and tempted to stray from your sobriety. You could bring soda, juice, iced tea, or mocktails. Ask for a glass with ice and a slice of lemon, and pour your own drink that fits right in with everyone else’s. Carrying an alcohol-free drink will also stop people from offering to get you a drink that might contain alcohol.
Keep in mind that some drinks labeled as alcohol-free, such as alcohol-free beer, often retain a small percentage of alcohol from the natural brewing process. It is not recommended that you drink them, especially if you are early in your sobriety. If in doubt, talk to your recovery team for advice.
In the past, you might have used any celebration or occasion as a reason to drink or abuse substances. In fact, taking substances might have been the only reason you were out at all. When you go out for a special occasion, make an effort to be present. Focus on who you are with and why you are there. Maybe you have been invited to celebrate a friend’s birthday, work promotion, or wedding. Perhaps you are simply catching up with friends. Talk and socialize, celebrate with your loved ones, make memories, but most importantly, have fun.
The great thing about being sober is having a clear mind to make good choices and being able to remember them the next day.
Know When To Call It Quits
When you find yourself bored at an event, and you know this is when you would have reached for an alcoholic drink, leave. If you need to be intoxicated to enjoy yourself, then you aren’t enjoying yourself. If a situation is putting you at risk of relapse, you need to get out of there. Put yourself and your recovery first.
Supportive friends will understand. Friends who can’t respect your boundaries regarding recovery are not being supportive. As stated above, you need to surround yourself with supportive friends when taking the first step to attend parties when sober
Take things one step at a time, and if you feel you have jumped back into parties early or feel overwhelmed, talk to your support team or seek help elsewhere.