Sometimes just saying no to drugs or alcohol is not enough. At certain social events, you may feel especially vulnerable due to stress or other life circumstances. You may be surrounded by friends who pressure you to drink or use another substance. While the best option may be to find new friends who support your recovery, it’s not always possible or desirable to avoid every situation in which you may be tempted to drink or do drugs.
Fortunately, with a little planning and support, you can take measures to secure your sobriety at parties, weddings, restaurants, work functions, or other gatherings. We offer some ideas below.
In the Moment
- Give a firm no: Know–and practice–ahead of time what you will say if or when a friend pressures you to drink or use. Be direct, be firm, and, if necessary, ask that person to please back off. You don’t have to offer any explanation.
- Be prepared to leave. If the pressure continues and you are feeling vulnerable, be prepared to leave the social gathering. Have a plan in place to make your exit, and don’t feel guilty about it.
- Stay respectful. You may not want to drink or do drugs, but others at the party may still want to partake. You can be clear in your position and let others know that you can be around them without having to drink or use drugs.
- Bring a friend. Don’t go out alone. Consider bringing along a sober friend who can provide support in a social setting and can help you refuse drugs or alcohol.
- Carry a non-alcoholic drink. Sometimes just having a non-alcoholic drink in hand is enough to prevent people from offering you alcohol. Mocktails, sparkling water, or soda can look like an alcoholic drink. But more importantly than choosing a look-alike drink, choose a drink that you enjoy.
- Be the designated driver. Offer to be the designated driver for the night. Or, simply tell the person who is pressuring you to use that you prefer to stay sober so you can help others stay safe.
- Tell the truth. Stating the truth and saying you are in recovery from drugs or alcohol can ward off pressure. It can also open the door to conversations with those who may be curious about whether they have a substance use issue.
- Change the subject. If you are being offered a drink or another substance, say no thanks, then change the subject. Ask the person a question about themselves or their opinion on a particular movie, song, political stance, etc. People usually like to talk about themselves and can be easily distracted from what you’re doing (or not doing).
Ahead of Time
In addition to the above tips, consider the ways you can prepare yourself for a sober time with friends even if you know that alcohol or drugs may be present:
- If someone is hosting the party, tell them in advance that you are in recovery. Explain that they can still offer alcohol to their guests but that they shouldn’t be surprised when you choose a non-alcoholic option (or bring your own).
- As mentioned above, practice your response. Visualize yourself confidently saying no to substances and enjoying yourself sober.
- Attend a support group meeting, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, before the event, and plan to attend another meeting soon afterward. Hearing first-hand about how others have been successful in staying sober can be helpful. You may discover useful tips that others have used.
As someone in recovery, you can be an example to your friends and other guests that sobriety is not boring. Talking, dancing, laughing, and just enjoying the company of others do not require the use of drugs or alcohol. When others see that you are relaxed and confident, they may be inspired to think about their own relationship with substances.
Mountain Laurel Recovery Center is Here to Help
If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction, contact Mountain Laurel Recovery Center for help. We have a range of tools and resources to support you during recovery and can create an individualized treatment plan to meet your specific needs and goals. Our Pennsylvania addiction treatment program offers a full range of care for those with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions. To find out more about what we can offer and how you can begin your journey of recovery, use our convenient online contact form.