The decision to not drink alcohol is easy enough to make when there is no option to have it. Unless we plan to live our lives in a bubble, however, the chances of encountering situations where the alcohol is flowing freely are likely to occur. Family gatherings, work parties, and get-togethers with friends all carry with them the possibility that you will be offered a drink.
It is important that you go into these situations armed with a game plan, so that a momentary lapse in your judgment won’t result in setting you back from your recovery goals. The following are a some tips to try when preplanning your escape route from situations where the temptation to drink may be high.
Tip #1: Bring Your Own Beverages
One option for reducing the temptation to drink with your buddies is to bring your own, non-alcoholic, beverages with you. As nationwide recognition of a need for recovery increases, more options are being made available in choices of non-alcoholic beers. Try bringing along a six pack of your favorite flavor. For those who enjoy the taste of mixed drinks, there are several mock cocktail options available. You might even impress your friends with your ability to mix drinks that are both tasty, and free from negative consequences.
Tip #2: Surround Yourself With Sober Friends
Most of us remember having those friends which we once considered to be sticks in the mud. They were the folks who refused to drink, even while we were urging them to lighten up and join the party. Those types of people can be appreciated while we are on the other side of recovery. It appears that they knew something, all along, that it takes the rest of us a hard road to learn. These are the types of friends that will be sure to support you in your commitment to not drink, and make valuable allies to take along with you to events which are going to have the taps flowing.
If you aren’t able to take these lifelong non-drinkers along with you, look to your new recovery friends. One of the benefits of joining recovery groups or communities is that the members provide a level of accountability for each other. When one of you is feeling weak toward the temptation to drink, the other will likely be in a place to encourage commitment to sobriety. Your recovery partners can be there to remind you of your ultimate goals, and can provide a fun diversion from interacting with intoxicated people.
Tip #3: Engage in Physical Activity
Drinking is a largely sedentary activity. It is hard to hold a drink in your hand while you are dancing, running, or playing a sport. Whenever possible, make sure you are signing up to participate in any physical activities that are available at an event. For those who have a competitive side, simply knowing that a drink will diminish your ability to focus on the win can provide enough security to abstain. You won’t want intoxication to make you a sloppy athlete.
Tip #4: Declare Yourself the Designated Driver
Not everyone is comfortable with a long evening of explaining that he or she doesn’t drink anymore. An easy way to get around this self-disclosure is to volunteer to be a designated driver. Those who are still involved in the world of drinking tend to sincerely appreciate this supposed self-sacrifice, and you will be able to gracefully avoid being offered a drink. Additionally, knowing that you are the one responsible for making sure everyone gets home safe can replace the sense of missing out with a sense of purpose.
Tip #5: Commit to Another Engagement
Yet another tactic for making sure that you get out of a situation with your recovery intact is to make it known that you will have to be leaving early. Not only does this put others on alert that they should not be offering you drinks, it provides insurance against you changing your mind. Knowing that you have to complete a task or meet an obligation after the party can keep you focused on the importance of staying sober during the event.
Tip # 6: Bring The Games
Similarly to how physical activity can reduce the urge to drink, being mentally engaged can distract from the lure of dulling your mental acuity with alcohol. Group games range from silly to cerebral, and can be customized to the personality styles of those participating. Your more intellectual friends may enjoy a game of words or knowledge sharing, while your more theatrical friends may enjoy a game of charades or picture drawing. Taking on the role of game master will provide you with a distraction from the alcohol, and joining in will be an opportunity for everyone to see that it is possible to have fun without it.
Tip #7: Remember Why You Stopped Drinking
When it comes to using substances, most people are tempted only by the good aspects of it. A user imagines the scenario where emotions are numbed, thoughts are more focused, or a better time is able to be experienced. The temptation rarely presents itself with information about the other side of that coin. With every benefit of drinking comes a side effect which is not nearly as pleasant. This downside can range from making regrettable decisions to risking our very life.
When the temptation to drink hits, spend time pondering those negative consequences which prompted you to stop drinking in the first place. What is it that alcohol has stolen from you over these years? In what ways has imbibing kept your life from developing in the way you once dreamed of? Counteracting the seductive voice of temptation with the reality of your situation can provide that extra boost of resolve needed while navigating through situations involving availability of alcohol. The beauty of this tip is that it can be applied at any time, and under any circumstances. The only tool needed for it is that of your own insight.