Attending social and work functions where alcohol is involved can be a stressful situation for someone in recovery, but that does not mean you have to give them up entirely.  Learn these four useful tips for staying sober at parties.

staying sober at parties


  • Staying Sober at Parties: Having a plan and knowing how you are going to respond to high-pressure situations will go a long way toward hardening your resolve.
  • Your guide to socialising without resetting the recovery clock.

For someone recovering from alcohol addiction, social functions can present some significant challenges. To begin with, you may ask yourself, “Am I even ready to place myself in a social situation where people are drinking?”  The answer may be no, and that is okay.  Sometimes, just being around alcohol can trigger a relapse – and that, of course, is a situation that any recovering alcoholic will want to avoid.

However, this leads many who are in the early stages of recovery to avoid social functions altogether. This may make sense in the earliest days of recovery, but the need to step out socially and interact with the world at some point is inevitable.  Remember – recovery should be fun!  In fact, boredom is one of the most common relapse triggers.

Get Your Head Straight: The Right State of Mind to Stay Sober at a Social Event

Before you attend a party or social event where alcohol is going to be present, it is important to first get yourself into the right state of mind. You will want to devote some time to formulating a strategy and preparing yourself for high-risk situations, such as someone insisting that you have a drink you have already repeatedly refused.

Before we proceed, we should also note that the temptation to drink socially does not only apply to parties and events. Many people also feel pressure to drink for work. Courting clients, brokering deals and firming up professional relationships often occur in the context of sharing drinks. For a person in recovery, participating in the social aspects of work can feel like a recipe for disaster.

In any event, having a plan and knowing how you are going to respond to high-pressure situations will go a long way toward hardening your resolve. You will find yourself feeling more confident and better prepared for the challenge. Beyond that, here are a four important measures you can take at any party to ensure your success:

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1. Remind yourself why you got sober in the first place.

Staying sober at a party begins with a strong conviction. Without a strong reason to remain sober, it is difficult to imagine how you can keep yourself from giving into your urge to have a drink.

Solidifying this conviction can begin with reminding yourself of your past experiences with alcohol. Most recovering alcoholics have more than a few unsavoury memories from their drinking days.  Before you head into a social situation in which the temptation to drink is going to be strong, take a moment to remind yourself of why you have chosen to stay sober in the first place. This resolve can help to carry you through the experience.

2. Practice your drink refusal skills.

Rehearsing what you will say if someone offers you a drink is an excellent idea, as it gives you a chance to actually think through the various ways that you could respond. Saying ‘no thanks’ to a drink can be awkward, especially if the person offering you the drink has already paid for it or has it in hand ready to give you. This can create a good deal of pressure, and it is absolutely imperative that you have gone over what you will say in all possible scenarios.

Furthermore, make a point of always having a (non-alcoholic) drink in hand. This reduces the likelihood that someone is going to offer you a drink. Just remember that some people will inevitably pressure you to have a drink. If this happens, there is no shame whatsoever in admitting that you are not drinking because you are a recovering alcoholic.

3. Serve yourself.

Whenever possible, serve yourself. Depending on where you are in your recovery, even approaching the bar could create unwanted stress or temptation. Make sure that you know where you can order a non-alcoholic beverage – whether that is a soft drink, seltzer water or fruit juice. You may even want to order a ‘mocktail’. However, it is important to note that virgin drinks and ‘mocktails’ can serve as a relapse trigger for some, as it reminds them of past experiences with alcohol.

4. Enlist an ally.

The social support provided by a friend who is aware of your past experiences with alcohol and understands your conviction to abstain from drinking is invaluable. This is especially true in a dynamic social setting, in which the situation on the ground can rapidly change. Having a friend that you can be open and honest with will help to remove some of the stress and pressure of the party. Furthermore, letting them know that you cannot and will not drink at the party will hold you accountable and help you stick to your convictions.

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Attending a Party in Recovery Does not Have to Mean Relapse

Above all, remember that recovery is a lifelong process, and it will only work if you are firmly committed to its success.  Remember that aftercare is the key to a successful recovery – attending meetings regularly and reaching out to your support network when needed is vital to getting you through challenging moments.

The Cabin Singapore specialises in providing highly effective alcohol addiction treatment and continuing care in a confidential and discreet outpatient rehabilitation centre.  Contact us today to find out how we can help equip you with the tools strategies to fend off the threat of relapse.