One important thing in recovery is to be able to go out without actually needing to drink any alcohol.
Going out and having fun and being a part of a sober lifestyle is the gift of recovery that we all strive to achieve. When we were in early recovery, the idea of going anywhere without alcohol seemed extremely far away. For us, drinking was what we did to have fun. We used alcohol to cope, and therefore, it allowed us to be able to have fun. Now that we are in recovery, we know that going out and having fun cannot be dependent upon whether or not we drink.
So how do we do that?
First and foremost, consider where you are going and whether or not it is healthy for you to go. The best way to guarantee a fun time with friends and family is first to ensure that you will stay sober. The moment we think that we can handle drinking is the moment we have already relapsed, and we know that relapse is not fun. The types of places we go out to have fun will make a difference in how comfortable we are. In other words, going to a bar or a keg party is probably not the best idea. We can go to parties and events where drinking is not the main focus.
Not Drinking at the Usual Events
Weddings, graduation parties, holidays, birthday parties, concerts, and festivals are all events that do not solely focus on drinking. Alcohol will likely be at many of these places, and the way we prepare to go to them is key. The best way to ensure that you will be comfortable is to have support. In recovery, we need our friends. We attain and maintain our sobriety by connecting with other recovering alcoholics. When you are going out to a place that serves alcohol or a party where alcohol will also be offered, the best way to get through it with ease and have fun is to bring along a friend in recovery.
Our friends know exactly how we feel, and if you find yourself being triggered or uncomfortable, it is most likely that your friend who is also in recovery will be thinking or feeling the same way. Having a sober friend with you when you go out is not just comforting but wise. It is much easier to turn down a drink in a social setting if you are not the only one doing so. There is power in numbers, so bring a sober friend along. Additionally, if one or both of you are uncomfortable, then you can talk about it or leave and not feel weird.
Planning your Own Event
Another way to guarantee that you will stay sober and have fun is to plan your own party or get together. Hosting a party or get together may seem obvious, but it leaves you in charge of what is served. Sober parties are the best parties because no-one gets a hangover, nobody gets a DUI, and nobody does things drunk they will regret the next day. If you want to put on a sober party or get together here are some great things to do:
Play Games. One the benefits of being in recovery are we get to experience pure laughter and joy with others, and silly games are one way to have a blast sober. Also, eat really good food. Since it is your party, you can have all of your favorite foods and snacks. Next, serve interesting drinks. Don’t just settle for cans of soda. Get out the espresso maker, the blender, buy whip cream, fruit, and other toppings that can make your average drink delicious.
Another suggestion for what to do at your party is to give the party a theme. Potlucks, Netflix binging, contests for the best cookie, or the best costume are all great examples of a theme. Another great idea is to invite people from meetings. Honestly, if most of the people at your party are not from your meetings, then you need to go to and get more involved with meetings.
Speaking of meetings, Alcoholics Anonymous as an organization that puts on sober events every month to ensure that its members have fun. Depending on where you live, your local AA group leader will know about the next AA bash, potluck, dance, or event. For persons who have attained long term recovery from alcoholism, the events that AA organizes are a lifeline. We encourage you to get involved with what your local AA headquarters is doing every month for fun.
Bring a Non-Alcoholic Drink
Finally, another way to have fun and not worry about what you will drink if you go out somewhere where alcohol is offered is to bring your own non-alcoholic drink. This may seem extreme, especially considering that at most parties or events non-alcoholic beverages will be available, but the idea of bringing your own beverage acts as positive reinforcement. Furthermore, bringing your own non-alcoholic drink lets others around you know you are serious.
For us recovering alcoholics, we need to be able to go out and have fun. Each person is different, and for some going to any activity where alcohol is offered may be too much, and the best option is not to go or only go for a short period if alcohol is served. Let the host or person who invited you to know that you will only be able to stay for a half hour or so and leave before it gets to be a trigger. Be sure also to arrange a phone call to your sponsor before and after attending any event that you are insecure about.
Having sober friends is key to a successful recovery. It is our friends in recovery who we relate to and who have our back when things get tough. It is our friends who make us laugh and enjoy life. It is also our friends that can help us deal with triggers when we go out to a place that serves alcohol.