When you're in recovery, you may find that some of the most challenging situations are also supposed to be some of the most fun: Those times you are spending with friends and family at parties, dinners, and other social events. A lot of people enjoy a drink during these gatherings, and not only will you feel tempted to do so yourself, but you may also feel pressured to do so.

Having a plan when you head out will help you. Think through the evening, and make a plan for when you will do certain things, such as getting an appetizer when you first show up at the party or always keeping your drink filled so that no one offers to do it for you. Making this plan ahead of time will help you to feel more in charge of the situation so that you won’t be as vulnerable or as tempted during the event.

(If you are struggling with addiction, contact a treatment center like the HARP Alcohol Treatment Center for help.)

Here are a few other things you can do to make sure that you stay sober while still enjoying social activities:

Avoid Triggers

If you are new to recovery, being in a bar is likely too big a trigger for you to handle. It may be off limits even years after you have maintained your sobriety.

Other triggers may not be as obvious. For example, you may have always drank when you watched football with the guys, so you may feel too tempted to drink if you watch any game on television. Or maybe you always drank and smoked when you went out, so having a smoke socially will make you want to drink.

Avoiding your triggers can help you stay strong when you are in social situations.

Have Support

As much as you prepare, social situations can be unpredictable. You never know what someone will say or what might happen to make you want to drink. It is important to have support to help you get through these trying situations without falling off the wagon.

You can take a sober friend with you to social events to back you up – preferably someone who has been through recovery also and understands the unique challenges. However, if you can’t go with a buddy, you should have a friend on standby to talk if you need to call. Just talking through your feelings can be enough to help you avoid temptation.

Learn New Ways to be Social

If you often drank during social situations in the past, you may have a hard time learning how to have fun or to talk to other people while you are social. But it is important that you sit with these uncomfortable feelings and work your way through them. You have to retrain yourself in social situations.

Practice making small talk with new people everywhere you go so that you have a few tricks up your sleeve when you are at social events. Spend time doing things one-on-one with friends so that when you are in a group setting you have more things to talk about with a variety of individuals.

Volunteer to be the Designated Driver

One of the biggest problems you will face when trying to navigate social situations while sober is that others may try to pressure you to drink. A lot of people have a hard time understanding how people can be social without having a drink.

You can practice saying “no,” but it may be hard in the early days of recovery. If you volunteer to be the designated driver, you will have a socially acceptable reason for not drinking that no one will hassle you about. In fact, you will be expected not to drink, so you’ll have plenty of eyes on you making sure that you aren’t, which will add a layer of assurance for your sobriety.

Take the Lead with Social Planning

You don’t have to be at the mercy of others. Instead of waiting to be invited to a social gathering and then figuring out how to manage it while staying sober, you can take the lead in planning social events that don’t revolve around alcohol.

Invite friends to go out to dinner, to see a movie, or to go to a concert. Ask them to join you on a hike, to play a game of golf, or to take a local class with you. Meeting up for coffee is an easy go-to when you are crunched for time, as well. These activities will help you build stronger friendship bonds and to learn how to socialize with others in a non-alcoholic setting.

If you do go somewhere that alcohol is served, such as when going to a restaurant to meet friends for dinner, make sure you choose a place that has a nice non-alcoholic selection of beverages. These can be drinks you like such as sodas and teas, or they can be non-alcoholic versions of beer or cocktails (assuming that won’t be triggering for you to want the real thing).

Using these tips will help you continue to stay social even while staying sober. You’ll strengthen your friendships, which means you will have a support system that will help you with your continued sobriety.



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