June 6, 2013

My Sober Toolbox: How to Stay Sober at Drinking Events

I recently had a conversation with a young lady, just few months sober. She was really worried because she was going to a wedding this weekend and she was wondering about how she was going to deal with saying NO to drinks.

This conversation reminded me about how hard it was to say no in the beginning. There was that strange moment when my mind would go in circles and I try to figure out what I was going to say and if I was going to be able to say it! And of course, how will the other person will react. Will they push on? Will they ask why? Will they laugh at me? Will I have to explain? Will I feel left out? Will I feel uncool? Will I have any fun?! Ugh. A lot to worry about, right?

So I was thinking about all the tools that I have collected over the years and I have put together a list of what I learned when going to events where alcohol will be served:

1.  DON'T GO
This alone will save you every time! I know sometimes it is not possible not to go. The key here is to be honest with yourself, if you are not comfortable with it, seriously, don't go. This was and is still the most important decision I make. I have no business being at an event where drinking is the MAIN event! - read my post Company Events

2.  Make sure that your head is in a good place
The worst may be to go if you are sad, mad or resentful, since we are used to drinking at things this maybe a big trigger.

3.  If you are open to AA go to a meeting and share about it
Chances are that you will get some great support and you will feel stronger and more confident.

4.  Have a plan and be prepared
Play out couple of "what if" scenarios, make a decision on what you will do when it becomes to slippery - I would definitely leave.

5.  Take a buddy preferably a non drinking one
One that understands how important it is for you not to drink; one that would slap that drink right out of your hand!

6.  Bring some gum or candy
I find that this helped me with the cravings alot.

7.  Get a none alcoholic drink as soon as you get there
 Hold it all night long, and stick a lime in it and voilà! It looks like drink-drink.

8.  Say: No, thank you. - and that's all
No one needs an explanation, just walk away or change the conversation to the other person.

9.  Call/text your support person
If you were not able to bring a buddy, have one available to contact. Sometimes just talking to someone who understands is all that you need.

10.  LEAVE
Again, this one alone will save you but sometimes it is not possible to do. If you can,  just sneak out, pretending to go to the bathroom or something. I bet no one will even notice.

If you are open to AA go to a meeting and share about your experience; sometimes the cravings are even stronger after the event, and you maybe feel more vulnerable.

I know, I know. This is not easy. I avoided many events in the beginning. But at some point I wanted to stay sober more than I wanted to drink and I was ready to make this commitment: Do not drink no matter what!

Recently I had to say - No thank you. - at a restaurant, several times, while few different waiters come by with wine service. One of them said - Oh, really? - with a really disappointed tone in her voice. - Yes, we don't drink. - I said, and honestly, I was ready to kick her ass, too! Lol! Anyway, the point is that I have no problem now, but thinking back to the beginning, that would have been unbelievably difficult! So protect your sobriety, because this thing is powerful, it comes from no where and when least expected.

Be prepared and don't forget to have fun!

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