Sober Summer Fun
How to enjoy summer parties and still stay sober.
Those of us who struggle with addiction and have made the changes necessary to get sober have a new life. We have new friends. We have our health back. We are rejoining the stream of life with a new attitude. So, how do we re-enter the normal world where people use alcohol or drugs? For anyone in early sobriety, the prospect of going to a party and facing the old triggers is a scary one. Take heart, though. You don’t have to miss parties just because you are in recovery. In many cases, most of us find we have even more fun at parties now that we are sober. Here are a few tips to help you have fun at summer parties and keep your sobriety date the same.
“Who knew sobriety could be so much fun? I laugh harder that I ever have. I actually enjoy being with people now. That was never the case when I was drinking. Sobriety is a gift that I don’t ever want to lose.”
1. Know what to say
Before you go to that party, plan how you will respond when someone offers you a drink. Perhaps say, “Thank you but I am driving,” or “I am sticking with soda tonight.” You can even plan to say something funny like “Sorry, I am allergic to alcohol. It makes me break out in handcuffs.” If all else fails, carry a non-alcoholic drink in your hand. If it looks like you already have a drink, no one will try to offer you one. Having structure and a plan of action will make you feel strong.
2. Bring a sober friend
Having someone with you who is also sober will keep you accountable. You can share the experience and support each other. You can roll your eyes together when people start acting drunk. Agree on a secret code that you can use to signal when it’s time to go home.
3. Go to a meeting first
Attending a twelve-step meeting before the party will fortify your resolve and keep you on the right track.
4. Help the host
Helping others is the foundation of long-term sobriety. Help the host cook, clean up or do the dishes. This keeps you busy, makes you feel included, and keeps your inner focus off yourself.
5. Avoid Toxic Influences
If someone is at the party who makes you angry or pushes drugs or alcohol on you, stay away from them. Do not let anyone steal your peace of mind or sobriety from you. If necessary, leave.
6. Expect to Have Fun
There is a difference between sober and somber. You can have just as much fun (if not MORE) as anyone who is drinking alcohol. When we are sober we are awake. The colors are brighter, the music is more beautiful and food tastes better. So go fix yourself a plate of food, laugh like never before, dance and have fun! You are free now. Enjoy it!
7. Choose the smaller party
If you have invitations to more than one party at the same time, pick the more intimate setting over the rager. It is easier to stay calm and peaceful in a more serene environment. If you are newly sober, you are probably starting to enjoy conversations. You are making new connections with others and enjoy just talking. A smaller party makes that connection easier. If you have a chance to go to a sober event, it is even better! It is amazing how much fun a room full of sober alcoholics and drug addicts can be.
8. Pick up the phone
If you feel triggered or start craving alcohol or drugs, call a sober friend or your sponsor. Make sure they know you may be calling. Often, just talking with someone and being honest and vulnerable will help us through. A sober friend understands what it is like and can help you get back on track.
9. It is okay to leave early or just stay at home
If the party is just too much for you right now, it is okay to leave. Your sobriety and peace of mind need to be your number one priority right now. If the people there are really your friends, they will understand. Likewise, if the idea of going to the party is just too much to bear right now, it is okay not to go at all. In early sobriety, learning how to cope in the normal world is a process. Healing takes time. In a few months or weeks you will feel stronger and better able to cope. Honor the process and give yourself a break.
9. Remember where you came from
After a few weeks or months of sobriety we can forget just how bad it was when we were drinking and using drugs. We start thinking that it “wasn’t that bad” and we can have “just one.” Chances are, if you are trying to get sober, it WAS bad. If you are truly addicted, you CANNOT have just one. Remember the cringe-worthy things that happened when you were active in addiction. How many times did you say to yourself “I’ll have just one,” only to end up on another bender? Keep the reality of your addiction in your mind and you are less likely to be tempted to try (once again) to drink like a normal person. It doesn’t work.
10. Be accountable
Tell friends and your sponsor where you will be, what time you are going, and when you will be home. Remember that you have people who care about you now and want you to stay sober. When you start acting like you can be trusted you can start trusting yourself.
11. Be the friendly one
Chances are, there will be someone at the party who is shy or doesn’t feel like they fit in. You will know who they are. They are the ones sitting by themselves. Go over there, introduce yourself and start a conversation. It is the kindest thing you can do. If we want to stay sober we have to get outside ourselves and help others. You will be helping your shy new friend and yourself.
12. Have an attitude of gratitude
You are starting a new life! You are clean and sober! Now you can be at a party and not worry about losing control and embarrassing yourself. No more vomiting and blackouts. No more slurring your words and horrible, remorseful hangovers. Hold your head high. This is a new era in your life filled with light and promise. And, when it is time to go, you can pick up your keys, walk to your car without stumbling, and drive yourself home. Be grateful you have been given the chance to become the best person you can be. The sober life can be better than we ever imagined. With a little preparation and a healthy mindset, we can have more fun than ever before, no matter where we are. So, go out there and have some sober summer fun. Dance! Laugh! Eat lots of good food! Now you can enjoy life and stay sober at the same time.