Living a sober life in a drinking culture can be challenging. Many people are afraid to stop drinking because they are afraid it will ruin their social life or that they won’t have any kind of fun ever again. Typically, it’s a good idea for people recovering from substance use disorders to avoid situations where they might be expected to drink. It’s especially wise to avoid spending time with old party buddies who might pressure you to drink again. Unfortunately, since drinking is so common in our culture, it’s unreasonable to think you can just avoid spending time with anyone who drinks. It’s bound to come up sooner or later. Here are some tips for socializing without alcohol.
Have an Excuse Ready
Whether it’s dinner with friends or an office party, you will eventually find yourself in a position where someone will offer you alcohol. Plan what you will say ahead of time. Take some time to think through a number of scenarios in which you could be offered a drink and consider ways in which you can respond responsibly. If you’re not comfortable sharing publicly about your recovery, you might say something like, “No thanks, I’m driving,” or “No thanks, I have an early morning.” Most people are happy to accept these excuses but if someone persists, remember that “No” is a complete sentence. Alternatively, under the right circumstances, you may decide to mention that you’ve stopped drinking. Sobriety has become trendy in the past few years and people may be interested in your experience if you don’t mind talking about it.
Have a Go-To Replacement
Another good strategy is to have a standard non-alcoholic drink you always order. That way, you don’t have to think too much when the waiter takes your drink order. Water, iced tea, and soft drinks are available at most places. After seeing you opt for a non-alcoholic drink a few times, your friends will get used to it. Also, when you have a drink in your hand already, people are less likely to offer you alcohol. If you’re feeling especially self-conscious about not drinking, remember that a glass of sprite with lime looks a lot like a gin and tonic.
Meet up for Lunch or Coffee
Finally, replace the old, “Do you want to grab drinks?” with “Do you want to meet for lunch or coffee?” This way, you can get to know someone or catch up with an old friend in an environment where drinking is not the norm. Lunch and coffee also have other advantages. Talking in a cafe is much easier than at a noisy bar. Plus, the time commitment is less open-ended than a night out. If you still feel like talking after an hour or so, you can find something else to do. Otherwise, you have a convenient excuse to get on with your day.
Looking for Support?
There are many skills that are useful for staying sober long-term. Individual and group therapy sessions focus on addressing trauma and changing maladaptive thinking patterns but they also teach you behavioral strategies for coping with situations where you may feel pressure to drink or use drugs. Tree House Recovery of Orange County is a multifaceted program that addresses the many dimensions of addiction. To learn more about our unique approach to addiction treatment, call us today at 855-202-2138.