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Going out for a drink is such an integral part of life and social culture. It is no wonder that getting back into the swing of things can be challenging for a recovering alcoholic.
There are wine bars, 'liquid lunches' and 'Thirsty Thursdays.' There are 'Happy Hour,' whiskey pairings, and craft beer tastings. It can be overwhelming as alcohol is practically everywhere.
This blog looks at how a recovering addict can stay sober in this ‘let’s grab a drink’ culture. It needs a strategy.
A Strategy for not drinking
You don’t have to drink.
The first thing you need to realize is that there is no shame in not drinking. Lots of people don’t drink. Some don’t like the taste of alcohol, or some abstain due to religious or health reasons.
You don’t have to explain why you are not drinking. It boils down to self-confidence. You have the right to do what you want, and you can’t be ‘penalized’ for not drinking.
Embrace the new you. You definitely don’t have to tell everyone you meet that you are a recovering alcoholic.
Let’s talk strategy:
- Avoid going out just for drinks.Why put yourself in the situation in the first place? If you go out, make sure it includes going out to eat. Some friends might be ‘triggers’ for drinking. It is not in your best interest to hang out with them. Why not opt for brunch instead?
- Taco Tuesdays.Suggest other ways for getting together. An exciting deal on appetizers or a meal can be an opportunity to socialize. Go to an upscale eatery for entrées and see how the other half lives.
- Choose a non-alcoholic beverage you like. There are plenty of drinks that look just like the real thing – from ‘mocktails’ to non-alcoholic beer. Make a list of a few you like and order that. Now you don’t have to divulge more than you want to if you don't want to. A lime and fizzy water look surprisingly like a vodka tonic.
Your aim here should not be to deceive people, though. It can easily backfire when it is time to order the second round. Rather be upfront about what you are drinking.
- Let your no be your no. You will likely be offered a drink from time to time. Say no fast in a polite but convincing way.
How about 'You know, I am cutting back now to take care of myself. I'd love a glass of water, though.' Practice it, and your skill will improve over time. Should the person persist, try the broken record method. 'I hear you, but I am cutting back at the moment. How about that glass of water?’ It might be a good idea to carry a water bottle with you to emphasize your point.
- Volunteer to be the designated driver. It gives you a legitimate reason not to drink andto help your friends get home safely.
- That first date.Who said a first date needs to involve alcohol? Be creative and have a puppy playdate, go for a walk, sit in Starbucks or paint a mug in a ceramic workshop. Go to a bowling alley! There are many ways to bond with a new romantic interest that can be much more rewarding than having a drink.
- Get out!Suggest a hike in scenic surroundings. It is a great way to connect with friends and get that much-needed release of natural anti-depressants.
- Are people still pushing you to drink? It may be time to tell your story. Tell people why you are refusing alcohol. People are insensitive and might not realize how hard it has been for you to get sober and change the way you live. If you tell your story, you can open their eyes.
No more sloppy Saturdays
There is so much more to life than just grabbing drinks! Next time someone asks you to go out for a drink, try and propose some other options. You can have a social life that does not include alcohol.
The important thing is to have a plan. If you already thought of alternatives, it will be easier to resist the pressure you might feel to give up your sobriety.
We know it is not easy! Getting treatment for alcohol addiction is harrowing, and the social strategies you must have must center around the right choices to protect your sobriety.
At Largest Heart, our motto is to help with information and resources. Please contact us if we could help in any way.