Make a plan for staying sober at the party.
Decide in advance that there’s no way in the world that you will drink or use drugs at the event. Ask for help from your Higher Power, because you may need it. Know and rehearse exactly what you will say if someone asks, “Would you like a drink?”.
If you can, bring your own water bottle or glass full of soda, so you don’t even have to go near the bar. If you don’t bring your own, when you arrive head straight to the liquid refreshments and help yourself to a safe option. Keep your beverage in your hand for the rest of your time at the party (refill as needed). That way you won’t have to keep turning down offers of something to drink. People won’t be asking you and unknowingly tempting you. If you set your drink down while dancing or when you step into the bathroom, get a new one when you return. Don’t take a chance on anyone having accidentally switched drinks or good-naturedly topped yours off, or even worse, slipped a drug into it.
Bring your own beverage.
If a holiday celebration includes the use of alcoholic beverages (such as wine at Passover), make sure in advance that there are substitutes (such as grape juice) for you and anyone else who doesn’t want to drink the harder stuff.
Don’t go it alone – bring a sober friend.
Bring along an AA buddy or a hired sober companion. Or take someone at the party into your confidence (the host, a friend, even a waiter); candor will serve you better than pride, embarrassment, or guilt. Tell them that you can’t drink, and enlist them as bodyguard. It will make the event easier for you, and will keep you from winding up in a relapse. If you can’t take someone with you, arrange to text with someone throughout the evening. Or make a plan to call your sponsor every hour on the hour. Build in some accountability, however you can.
It’s okay to tell people that you are now in recovery.
There is a lot less stigma these days to being in recovery. Nearly everyone knows someone who is in recovery and very open about it. It’s your choice whether or not you want to tell people. One good reason to be open about it: If your friends don’t know you’ve given up alcohol, they may lead you into temptation without intending to. Another reason: When you let it be known that you don’t drink, you offer support and encouragement to others who are thinking about sobriety but are afraid to take the leap. You just might be the catalyst that gets someone else started on recovery.
Don’t romance the drink or drug.
If everyone starts talking about the “good old days,” leave the room. You don’t want to change your focus to thoughts of your drinking or using days. That can lead to preoccupation and obsession, and then to cravings. Keep your focus on your life right now, your life in recovery.
You’re almost sure to run into someone who’ll say, “Do you mind if I have a drink?” Your automatic answer will most likely be “No, I don’t mind.” The truth is you probably do resent it. You’re as good as the other guy. If he can drink, why can’t you? If you feel resentment building, make your excuses and find your sober buddy, slip out to a meeting, or call or text your sponsor. Pull out your phone for a quick check-in with an online meeting or recovery forum. Or head home and immerse yourself in an online meeting.
Be ready to leave.
Keep your car keys or taxi fare in your pocket. Should you suddenly feel overwhelmed by temptation, leave immediately. Do not try to test yourself. If there are drugs at the party, it is usually best to leave as soon as you are able.
Take inventory the next day.
The day after you go to an event with alcohol you may well fall into self-pity mode. “Why can’t I have fun like those other people?” Don’t let those feelings and ideas simmer; they can push you right over the edge into a relapse. Plug right back into your recovery program. Call or text your sponsor, double up on meetings, and read recovery literature. Be honest about any feelings that arose from being around drinking.
Plan your own celebrations
. If you are not traveling for the holidays, plan to celebrate with local AA or NA friends. If you haven’t been invited, do the inviting yourself. Follow old family traditions or start some of your own
Here are some additional suggestions provided to us by Willingway alumni:
Skip the riskiest parties.
One can more easily get away with abstaining from alcohol at an afternoon work get-together or a crowded buffet dinner. Other events are more challenging, and should be avoided, such as a cocktail party or an event at a bar.
Don’t go hungry.
A common saying at AA meetings is, 'Never let yourself get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired." Make sure to have a snack and a good night’s rest before the party!
Go to a meeting before (or after) the party.
“It just puts me in the right frame of mind, reiterates my purpose and how much I love being sober - I wouldn’t want to lose that for anything in the world,” one alumni shared with us.
Always, always have an exit plan!
Got more tips? We would love to hear them -
us your submissions and have a safe and joyous holiday season.