How to Navigate Social Events in Sobriety

How to Navigate Social Events in Sobriety

How to Navigate Social Events in Sobriety

How to Navigate Social Events in Sobriety was a learning experience with much advice coming from other recovering alcoholics I met at Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and paying close attention to my feelings and thoughts.

In early recovery, I avoided going to places that had alcohol like bars and parties that were not a part of the recovery community.  Fortunate for me family and friends would put their alcohol beverages away when I would visit.

However, this was difficult to expect during the holiday season I couldn’t expect for family members to put everyone out of their way to please me. Some would have the alcohol in a room and not out in the open as usual.  That would be great because I knew to avoid that room but as the hours went by I couldn’t miss the smell of alcohol as people walked pass me or the obvious change of behavior in those who really loved to party if you know what I mean.

My goal was not only to resist drinking but I didn’t want to go through the discomfort of being triggered to want a drink.

Holidays are high relapse time for alcoholics and addicts. That’s why I created this downloadable Holiday Abstinence Checklist to help you or your loved one through any holiday season.

Holidays are not the only time that you may find your sobriety at risk.  Events related to your job may make you uncomfortable.  Have you ever been to a conference related to your career and alcoholic is served during the meet and greet hour?  Do you find yourself questioning if you should leave and what would people think about you if you do leave?

I have spent over twenty years working in the field of alcohol and substance abuse and I have been partnered up with colleagues that have been casual drinkers to the can’t get enough drinker and still I had to get my job done and try to limit my exposure to his/her drinking.  No judging just taking care of me.

By my fourth year in recovery, my fear of being around people drinking decreased considerably but I don’t take my sobriety for granted.  If you smell strongly of alcohol I have to move on because I don’t like the odor when it is strong and I don’t believe in testing myself.  Reality check people do relapse.

5 Tricks to Navigate Social Events in Sobriety

  1. Keep a cup or bottle of whatever you like to drink in your possession.  If you feel yourself desiring something to drink you won’t trick yourself into indulging in something you will regret later. I love to have a bottle of water with me or I order a non-alcoholic beverage.  A couple of my favorites are Virgin Pina Colada or a 1/2 glass of Sprite with the other 1/2 being equal parts cranberry and orange juice. Mmmmm Tasty trust me! Let’s not forget the coffee and tea lovers. So many flavors to chose from.
  2. When you attend any event that will have alcohol stick with people who you know will support who you are and respect your decision.  This way you protect yourself from receiving pressure to drink from and innocent person who does not know your story.
  3. Should someone ask you why you are not drinking keep your answer simple.  I just say, “I am allergic to alcohol.”  I have never had anyone drill about being allergic. You also state that you prefer to live a healthy lifestyle therefore choosing not to indulge in alcohol.
  4. A suggestion you will find on the holiday abstinence checklist is to take another sober person with you to an event if you are unsure of yourself. ex. your sponsor or another recovering member of your home group would be ideal.
  5. When I am away from home attending work related conferences at the end of the workshops, lectures, and dinner those who want to go to the bar do so and I excuse myself simply stating I’m tired, or want to read over the material, etc.   I have never had to tell a lie about it. My life is my truth and I encourage you to not make yourself feel uncomfortable because you don’t want to join the crowd. State why you can’t join them and move on.   Also if you find that you do want to enjoy them tell them you can’t because you have to make a call.  Then go call your sponsor or person in your support network.

Preparation is key to maintaining your sobriety. Think ahead, be honest with yourself, and accept your limitations regardless of how long you have been in recovery.  

NOTE: Spring and Summer weather, as well as sporting events, bring forth a celebration spirit. Stay prepared download, print and carry your checklist with you.


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Lydia Brown

Lydia Brown, MS, MAC, CSAC, CADAC Editor ATN, Home Business Owner Advocate for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment CARF Surveyor

10 thoughts on “How to Navigate Social Events in Sobriety

  • March 19, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    Hi Lydia,

    Another helpful post that could save a life. I used to lie and say I didn’t drink because of my religion, until I ran into people who saw that excuse as a challenge. Not drinking because of my health worked much better and it was the truth. Good advice here. Thanks, Edward

    • March 19, 2017 at 10:32 pm

      Hi Edward, glad you enjoyed this post. I found out that some people will challenge you so intrusive but its best to be prepared for those who don’t know any better. Honesty does work best if you are comfortable sharing your truth.

  • March 5, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Some great tips there and I really am too tired after an event!! I have been lucky enough not to be a lover of alcohol, I just don’t like the taste, but there’s a great new wave of teenage cocktail bars here in the UK that are completely alcohol free. There’s some really exciting drinks being made with great flavours and they look amazing so it’s great to hear of your Sprite mix, I’ll remember that one to share with them next time I go.

    Enjoy the journey!
    Mandy Allen recently posted…Why Do You Blog?My Profile

    • March 5, 2017 at 8:13 pm

      Hi Mandy thank you for your comment. I bet many will like that mix glad you are going to share it. I’m going to search if the USA has bars of this type.

  • February 28, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    My heart goes out to anyone having to deal with the alcohol at social events issue. When I worked in travel I lived by a strict set of self-imposed rules because I needed to stay healthy and when you’re traveling all over the world and on the road 2 to 4 weeks at a time you need to get serious about taking care of yourself. One of my rules was no drinking – ever. Wow, did I take flack for that! At first when I declined to join the nightly parties a few tried to brand me a snob, but fortunately, most were supportive and ended up teasing me when I was the first to show up for sales calls or at a booth when we were doing shows because I wasn’t suffering from a hangover! These are great tips and I’ll gladly share.
    Marquita Herald recently posted…How to Make Peace With Your Inner CriticMy Profile

    • March 5, 2017 at 8:16 pm

      Thank you for sharing this information Marquita and as always your input and comments are appreciated.

  • February 25, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    My hat goes off to anyone who is trying to stay sober and has to be around people who are drinking. My dad was a musician, and when he first quit drinking I remember how hard it was for him to go to work on Friday and Saturday nights knowing that he would be surround by booze the whole time he was there.
    Ruth Bowers recently posted…[Friday Five] 5 Tips for Increasing Content ConversionsMy Profile

    • February 27, 2017 at 12:47 am

      Hey Ruth the choice your dad had to make was a tough one. I met a few musicians in AA and some managed to continue playing in those venues and some had to quit for awhile.

  • February 25, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    Hi Lydia. This is such a good post. I have an addictive personality, but I was lucky to have joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints when I was 27. I made a covenant with God to never use tobacco, alcohol, coffee, tea, or drugs not prescribed by a doctor. That covenant has kept me on the straight and narrow for over 40 years.

    It’s not that I’m not tempted. There are times I wish I had a cigarette or that I could get drunk to mask the pain. However, I know that it would not be good.

    My local church is running an addiction recovery class right now. The interesting thing is that it is open to anyone with any addiction – drugs, pornography, smoking or whatever. No one knows the others’ addictions. They just get help to deal with whatever particular demon is theirs Thanks for a great post.
    DeeDee Lynn recently posted…National Dog Biscuit Day – Cook up some treats for your best friendMy Profile

    • February 27, 2017 at 12:53 am

      DeeDee ” They just get help to deal with whatever particular demon is theirs” so glad you brought this up. Pain is pain and all we have to do is identify with the discomfort any temptation or use does do our life if we can not control ourselves. A woman once told me she couldn’t understand why I did not want to join Weight Watchers and get a sponsor. I shared with her that for me eating uncontrollably to replace the alcohol was making me just as miserable and had an unhealthy risk. I already had a sponsor in AA I explained that I didn’t need another sponsor to share the pain with. It is not the drug but the impact of use on our life physically and emotionally that can be addressed with any group of people who have a desire to overcome. Thank you for stopping by.


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