Staying Sober at Labor Day Parties
- Prepare yourself. Going into a drinking situation cold is a big mistake and it's when many alcoholics in recovery slip up and relapse. Have a plan for every scenario. Go through the party in your mind and think about what might happen. Is someone going to be a jerk and insist you have a drink? What will you say? What are you going to drink instead of alcohol? Should you bring your own beverages? Also, make a plan for how to have fun without drinking. Think about which guests you want to see and what you want to talk about. Labor Day parties are usually outside, so bring some lawn games to have fun and keep busy.
- Prepare your friends and family. Hopefully you are out with your alcoholism. If your family and friends know that you are sober now, ask them ahead of time to be respectful of this. Tell them that you understand others will be drinking, but that you would appreciate acceptance of your sobriety. Not everyone realizes how hurtful it can be when drinking friends tease their sober friends or try to convince them they don’t really have a problem.
- Avoid your triggers. As an alcoholic in recovery, you should know your triggers to drink. Assess your emotions before you head out to the party and confront any that normally would trigger you to drink. Being self-aware can help you resist the urge to connect feelings and external triggers with a relapse.
- Use a buddy. If you know of someone else at the party who doesn’t drink, whether a recovering alcoholic or not, make a pact. Tell this person that you are not drinking, but that you could use some support or encouragement for the duration of the party. If you don’t have anyone else who is sober, ask a close friend or family member to stay sober for this one event. It may seem like a lot to ask, but you’ll be surprised at how much willing support you find in those who care about you.
- Have an escape plan. Always have a way to get away from a drinking party in the event that you feel an overpowering urge to drink or you’re just plain miserable. The best way to do this is to make sure you drive your own car to the party and anyone you brought with you has an alternate way of getting home. Or, if the party is within walking distance of your home, you can simply leave whenever you need to get out of there. When you need to go, just go. You don’t need to explain your departure to anyone.
Labor Day parties can be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, they often involve drinking, sometimes a lot of drinking. As a recovering alcoholic, you need not abstain from your annual barbecue or picnic. Prepare yourself for the challenge, find fun things to do instead of drinking and leave when the time feels right.