Alcohol is an incredibly common element of most parties and social events. For many people, alcohol, when consumed in moderation, has no real negative impact. However, if your relationship with alcohol has led to abuse or even an addiction that you are recovering from, what can you do when you’re invited to an event where you know alcohol will be served?
When you’ve been sober for a while, it’s likely you will at some point need to face a variety of social situations where alcohol tends to be the centerpiece. It can be difficult to imagine ever attending a party or get-together where you remain sober, as for many people, alcohol equates with having a good time.
However, when you’re an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic, the thought of all that alcohol around you at a social occasion can make you feel like getting a root canal is a walk in the park in comparison. Perhaps you’re worried you might begin to feel cravings or that you will fall back off the wagon entirely.
Thankfully, there are a variety of tried and tested ways that will help you get back into your social activities without them triggering a relapse. But first, you need to figure out if you indeed have a drinking problem.
Is Your Drinking a Problem?
If you’re feeling concerned about your alcohol intake and wondering if you really do have an issue with alcohol, ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you feel unable to refuse alcohol when it’s offered?
- Do you regularly forget what happened when you were under the influence?
- Do you find yourself giving into peer pressure?
- Do you often find yourself feeling upset, guilty or violent after drinking?
- Do you often decide not to drink before an event, but then do so anyway?
- Is your drinking causing trouble in your relationships, your working life, your social activities and so on?
- Is your alcohol use detrimentally affecting how you feel and think?
If you answered yes to any one of these questions, it is likely that your drinking habits could be more of an issue than you realize. It also means it’s important to seek help sooner rather than later because alcohol can have both short-term and long-term effects on your body and your life.
The Effects of Alcohol on Your Body
It’s important to understand the toll that drinking too much can have on your health. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are several ways drinking can hurt your body, either on a single occasion or over time. These include:
Drinking too much on just one single occasion or over time can damage your heart and cause issues such as:
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cardiomyopathy, or drooping and stretching of heart muscle
Drinking too much alcohol can change both your behavior and mood, making it difficult to think clearly and physically coordinate your movements. It can also impact your judgement and decision-making skills.
Drinking heavily can seriously hurt your liver and can lead to problems such as:
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Fatty liver
Overuse of alcohol can result in the pancreas creating toxic substances. Over time, this can lead to a dangerous swelling and inflammation of pancreatic blood vessels, which is known as pancreatitis. This disorder prevents you from digesting your food properly.
When you drink too much alcohol, it can actively increase your likelihood of developing cancers such as:
Chronic drinking will weaken your immunity, thus opening your body up as a target for diseases, such as tuberculosis and pneumonia to name a few. Even drinking a great deal on one single day can impede your body’s ability to ward off infections for up to 24 hours.
It’s not only health problems that are associated with the overuse of alcohol. When you’re drunk, you’re more likely to:
- Become unintentionally injured — for example, in a fall, firearm injury or motor-vehicle crash
- Perpetrate or become a victim of violence
- Become dependent on alcohol
- Engage in risky sexual behaviors
Why Do Individual Responses to Alcohol Vary?
It’s very true that everyone reacts differently to alcohol, and there are many factors that influence this, including:
- Ethnicity or race
- Physical condition, such as fitness level, weight, build, etc.
- Whether or not food was consumed before drinking
- The speed at which the alcohol was consumed
- Any medications you might be on
- Family history of alcohol problems
Alcohol Myths and Facts
There are many myths and misconceptions about alcohol, but what are the facts, and what is true and false? One of the biggest myths is “everyone drinks.” The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published figures that 87.6 percent of individuals ages 18 or older reported drinking alcohol at some time in their lives. But that means 12.4 percent reported they have never had alcohol in their lifetimes.
Other alcohol myths and facts include:
- I can easily sober up if need be — False. Depending on your weight, it can take as long as three hours to work two drinks out of your system. Again, it depends on a number of factors, including your weight and how much you ate before you started drinking.
- Alcohol isn’t a dangerous drug — False. Even though drinking alcohol is perfectly legal, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s entirely safe. Alcohol can be misused just like any other substance, and according to data from The University of Kentucky, one third of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 that are admitted to the ER with serious injuries were intoxicated when their injuries occurred.
- It’s better if you learn to hold your alcohol — Again, this is false. If you train yourself into being able to tolerate larger and larger amounts of alcohol, you are setting yourself up for medical problems, including alcoholism.
- It’s safer to drink wine or beer than liquor — False. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a 12-ounce beer contains around the same amount of alcohol as a 1.5-ounce liquor shot or a 5-ounce glass of wine. It’s not the type of drink that affects you — it’s the amount of alcohol you consume.
- It’s safe to drink alcohol and drive — False. This is a wrong assumption, as alcohol impairs your coordination and judgment, as well as slows down your reaction times.
- It’s fine to have a few glasses of wine when you’re pregnant — This is entirely false. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, if you’re pregnant or trying for a baby, you should not be drinking any alcohol, as it may harm your unborn child
Tips to Be the Sober Life of the Party
Now that you’ve considered all these facts and information, and you’re wondering how to be the sober life of the party, we have lots of hints and tips to help you enjoy the get-together without a drop of alcohol.
Consider the Type of Party You’re Going To
If you’ve been invited to grandma’s 90th birthday celebration, things probably won’t get too crazy — unless you have a pretty wild granny! The same goes for a daytime housewarming party or a child’s birthday celebration.
On the other hand, if you’ve been invited to an all-night rave party with some people you know who are pretty wild in general, it’s likely that the night will be filled with temptations, and you really need to figure out if this is something you’re ready for.
Make a Plan
Just walking into a party with the knowledge that you need to maintain your sobriety when everyone else is drinking is a daunting prospect. However, it’s important to address what you’re going to do at the gathering to avoid the temptation of alcohol well before you get there. This is why planning ahead with some sober party ideas will both strengthen your resolve and enable you to relax and enjoy yourself.
Include in your plan:
- How you are getting to and from the party. As you will be sober, you’ll probably be singled out as the designated driver among your group of friends. With that in mind, you may have committed yourself to a very long night you can’t get out of if you feel the need to. For that reason, it’s probably best if you make your own way to the party and explain why to your friends, if you feel comfortable talking with them about your reasons. On the other hand, you can always agree on a time to arrive and leave with your friends and ensure that they know to stick to it or end up calling a cab.
- What you will do/say if you get a hard time about being sober. This is entirely up to you and what you feel comfortable with sharing with others. It might mean telling people you’re driving or simply telling them you’re sober. There is no right or wrong — just do what you feel is right.
- An “emergency” plan in case you want to leave early. Setting up a call from a friend about some sort of help they need should work — and it will mean you don’t need to explain yourself to anyone. Setting out an exit strategy in advance will ensure that you can do things on your own terms and that you won’t feel tempted to fall into step with your alcohol-drinking friends should they try to tempt you. If things get too crazy, you’ll be able to make your excuses and leave.
Bring Your Own Fun
There probably was a time where you were the life and soul of any party when you were drinking. Yes, being entirely sober at a celebration is going to seem strange to you at first. However, when you bring the fun with you, you’ll begin to enjoy yourself and you won’t miss having that alcoholic drink in your hand.
Take a look at these suggestions to get you started:
- If you have a friend who is a lot of fun to be around, invite them to come with you as your guest — better still if that friend doesn’t drink either.
- Why not bring along some party games like Twister, or even your videos games system?
- If you have an awesome music collection, offer to be DJ for the night.
- Create some awesome mocktails for partygoers who aren’t drinking.
- Volunteer to be chef for the night.
- If you enjoy photography, then why not be the official photographer for the evening.
Saying No to Alcohol
If you are offered alcohol and are finding it hard to find the words to refuse it, there are a few particularly good ways to decline if you feel uncomfortable saying an outright no. These include:
- Saying you have an important engagement early the next morning and you need to keep a clear head and get a good night’s sleep.
- Explaining you’re on driving duty.
- Carrying around a glass of something non-alcoholic.
- Telling people you’re on medication that doesn’t mix with alcohol.
- Being honest and explaining to your friends that you don’t want to drink.
If you get any hassle or pressure about not drinking, don’t feel that you have to put up with it or further explain yourself. Simply leave the party.
Try Not to Make a Big Deal About Being Sober
Of course, it’s perfectly fine if you’re not drinking. However, you need to be careful that you don’t inadvertently alienate other party goers who are enjoying an alcoholic drink. Don’t make them feel uncomfortable about drinking in front of you — they have as much of a right to drink as you have to remain sober.
Here are a few things you can do to help:
- Try to avoid constantly mentioning you’re not drinking.
- Don’t point out how drunk other people are.
- Don’t be judgmental.
- Whatever you do, don’t nag others who are just having fun.
- Keep a soft drink or water in your hand if you feel self-conscious about not drinking alcohol — this will also stop others from constantly offering you drinks.
Worried About Losing Your Friends If You Don’t Drink?
One of the contributing factors to using alcohol is often peer pressure. It’s also true that most of us like to be part of the group, and when everyone is drinking in order to have a good time, it can be very difficult to say no.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with people enjoying a drink responsibly at a party. However, anyone who harasses a person for not wanting to drink alcohol is no good. A genuine friend who cares for you and for your well-being will not mind at all if you don’t drink and will respect your choices.
When you’re surrounded by people who care about you, your friendship will not revolve around or be dependent on drinking alcohol. If this is not the case, then it’s time to make new friends, as friendships based only on drinking are not the truly valuable ones you need in your life.
Remember to Enjoy Yourself and Socialize
The whole reason you’re going to the party is to enjoy yourself and be sociable. However, with all your worrying about your sobriety, you might forget to have fun. Gatherings are all about socializing, not about drinking, so remember that.
Enjoy spending time with your family and friends, and spend some quality time catching up. Ensure you mingle and chat with others at the party.
Parties are ideal places to meet new people, so make sure you jump on the opportunity to make new connections and nourish existing ones. Meet new people and be confident in the person you are.
There’s No Hurry
Being sober at a party won’t initially come easily, particularly if you are in the early stages of recovery. For this reason, it’s important not to push yourself before you’re truly ready. Ensuring you stay healthy and sober is far more important than a party. When you’re ready to get out there and socialize, you’ll be able to enjoy every moment — and wake up without a hangover too!
Leave a Positive Impression
As you aren’t drinking and can show yourself for who you truly are, it’s likely you will leave the guests and hosts of the party with a very positive impression of who you are. In fact, you’ll likely be invited to many more parties in the future as a result. In turn, you will have lots of people you can invite to your future get-togethers too.
If you meet new people you like, get to know them and make some plans for coffee, a walk in the park, dinner or a trip to the movies. Enjoying meeting people while you are feeling in control is a very positive experience that you’ll surely grow to enjoy. You will also show people that just because you’re not drinking alcohol doesn’t mean you need to stop having fun.
When you get home after the party, unwind and give yourself a treat, such as some of your favorite candy or dessert. Go over the night in your head, taking note of all the high points and of anything you could have done differently to make the evening more enjoyable.
Most importantly, make sure you congratulate yourself on your ability to have fun at parties while sober — it’s an achievement to feel proud of.
Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
If you’re currently struggling with alcohol addiction and you’re looking for help, the multidisciplinary team at 12 Keys Rehab can help you get back on track to sober living. Our supervised alcohol detox programs take care of every aspect of your mind, body and spirit, enabling you to recover in a healthy, enjoyable and caring environment.
Working hand-in-hand with our fully qualified and empathetic staff, together we will remove obstacles to your recovery, while helping you understand the nature of your addiction, why you’re addicted and how to journey towards a future without alcohol abuse.
Simply call us today at 800-338-5770 to speak with one of our discrete and understanding counselors. We will even help you arrange your transportation to our facility.
Following the 12 Keys Model, your detox and treatment program will be fully tailored to you as an individual, and all prescription medications, activities, meals and more are provided. This leaves you nothing at all to worry about, so you can commit all your energies and attention to healing.
While you detox at 12 Keys Rehab, you will have a comfortable room with space for everything you need. Our staff, many of whom have been through detox themselves, will always be on hand to talk with you.
Detoxing from alcohol is challenging. However, at 12 Keys Rehab, we can offer you complete support through every step of your journey. We also offer individual, group and family counseling. Talking things through with your family in a controlled and safe atmosphere is an important step towards reclaiming your life, and in rebuilding the bridges that may have broken down between you.
The thought of getting treatment for your addiction to alcohol is daunting, but the benefits are immeasurable. 12 Keys Rehab offers you all the tools you need to recover. Not only will you become empowered to end your addiction, but you will also love relaxing in our 10-acre waterfront grounds, where you can take part in a myriad of fun activities such as horseback riding, kayaking, fishing and more.
Contact us today to take the first step towards rebuilding your life the 12 Keys Rehab way.