People are social creatures. We invite friends out for a night of fun. We draw people together to share in a celebration. We organize gatherings to turn strangers into friends.
And, many times, alcohol is served. It can help people have fun.
But what if you don’t drink? What if you want to stay sober while everyone else is having a few? Can you have fun, too?
Yes! Use these seven tips for staying sober and having a great time.
Fifteen minutes before walking out the door or before the doorbell rings, if you’re the host, find a quiet spot.
Stand or sit with your eyes closed. Inhale through your nose while counting to six. Exhale through your nose while counting to six. Clear your mind of any concerns about the party.
Repeat the breathing five times. With each inhale and exhale, remember why you aren’t drinking. It might be a choice for a lifetime or just that weekend. Either way, you’ve decided to be sober for a reason.
Repeat the inhale and exhale pattern five more times. This time, tell yourself how fun the party will be. Think of people you’re looking forward to seeing.
All of this only takes a few minutes. But when you open your eyes again, you’ll feel more grounded. Less stressed about staying sober.
Being relaxed will help you find the joy in the moment. And when you do, others will sense it and be drawn to it. You’ll be a hit!
2. Practice Your Response
What will you say when someone offers you a drink? What if they won’t take ‘no thank you’ for an answer?
Each time you have to say no to the same invitation to drink, stress can increase. Too much stress, especially in social situations, can smash through the resolve to stay sober.
Practice what you’ll say to make it reflexive, reducing the chances of temptation. Having a standard line can also set the tone for your sober evening.
Saying “no” can sound harsh and make the person asking feeling awkward.
Instead, try saying, “Yes, please. Cola with ice would be perfect.” That gives off an open, party vibe and shows you know what you want.
Remember, you don’t have to explain your choice to stay sober to anyone. And if you don’t make it a thing, most other people won’t either.
3. Have an Ally
A little extra support never hurts when you’re the sober one at a party. This is especially true around the holiday when recovering alcoholics are at the greatest risk of relapsing.
Will there be someone at the party who understands your desire to stay sober? Even if they are a drinker, it can help to have someone there who will back you
For many people, staying sober at a party is about self-respect. If another party-goer you already know understands that, touch base with them when you get to the party.
Let them know you won’t be drinking. Ask them if they would back you up if an over-eager person tries to pressure you into having a drink.
If they say no, accept their answer. But most times, people are happy to help when asked.
4. Dance and Be Sober!
If you’re moving, it’s unlikely you’re drinking.
And, when you’re on the dance floor, nobody notices you’re not drinking. You’re out there having fun, dispelling any rumors that you’re a party-pooper because you’re not getting drunk.
Plus, dance releases endorphins. Endorphins make you feel good about yourself. Dancing is a natural and fun way to boost your mood.
5. Treat Yourself
When you’re sober at a party, you can sometimes feel like you’re missing out. Everyone else is indulging. It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself.
Instead, pick something else at the party that feels like an indulgence but isn’t destructive. It might be having dessert. Or a second serving of dessert. It might be ordering food you normally wouldn’t.
Whatever your treat is, enjoy it. Being sober at a party isn’t always easy, but you’re worth the effort.
6. Have an Exit Strategy
Dynamics at parties can change quickly. You can be feeling good for hours then somebody says or does something that hits a nerve. Suddenly, breaking the promise to yourself to stay sober seems like a good idea.
It’s for moments like that you need a pre-planned way to remove yourself from the situation. Go to the bathroom. Get a breath of fresh air. Leave the party.
Whatever the plan, keep it simple. If you’re at the party with someone, let them know your exit strategy ahead of time. That way, if they can’t find you, they know where to look.
7. Keep a Drink Your Hand
A simple way to stay sober while mingling at a party is to keep a drink in your hand. It prevents you from repeatedly having to turn down other offers.
Plus, if you’re at the kind of event where servers carry trays of drinks among the guests, you’ll be less likely to take one.
This tactic also works well at networking events.
An After-Party Tip
If you’re a recovering alcoholic, not drinking at a party is a big deal. It demonstrates your commitment to your sobriety and is a testament to your inner strength.
Many people recovering from alcoholism acknowledge staying sober at a party with a recovery gift to themselves. It could be a bracelet, medallion, ring, or another 12-step related token. Learn more about recovery gifts to see if they are for you.
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