Gaining back your identity by freeing yourself from your past is one of the many rewards to becoming sober. However, there will be challenges you will encounter along the way. July marks National Family Reunion month, though the summer, in general, is a time where family and friends meet to have barbecue picnics or gather at the beach to enjoy the sun and water.
While these events provide high energy and fun, they could also include substances or specific people who trigger your impulse to want to drink. You might resort to thinking that such places are not for you or that you cannot have fun and therefore do not attend. However, recovery is about becoming resilient to your triggers and learning how to appreciate these family gatherings while maintaining sobriety. Here are some ways to prepare to navigate social gatherings to experience a comfortable, secure, and good time.
Identify the Kind of Gathering
Depending on where you’re at in recovery, certain events that include specific substances or people might be too triggering for you to handle. Therefore, getting as much information about the who and what will be there is a great way to prepare. You can start by asking about the guests, drink choices, and whether or not there will be non-alcoholic choices as well. Knowing the location also helps in preparing how you want to arrange a way to get there. The more information you gather from the host, the more comfortable you should feel about making your decision to attend or not attend.
Be Prepared for Questions
Depending on the occasion and the people, you might face difficult questions, especially if you are not prepared. People might ask why you’re not drinking. You might even feel pressured by others who are drinking to partake as a way to avoid the pressure of having to keep answering these kinds of questions.
However, under no circumstances should you drink, nor are you required to disclose your recovery status if you do not wish. Instead, keep your answer short, simple, and to the point: “I don’t drink.” Using a firm “no” when somebody offers is also perfectly acceptable. Remember, if their idea of a good time is getting another person to drink with them, then it is not your worry or responsibility to accommodate their needs. You know that for you, having a good time relies on not drinking, and this is the priority. If you feel pressured or uncomfortable, you can always walk away from the situation.
Bring Your Own Drink
Sometimes it might be hard to keep an eye on the person preparing your drinks; therefore, they might add alcohol to your juice or soda. It is important to drink from sealed cans or bring your drink of choice; this way, you will know that there is a safe option. Try to keep your drink in hand to avoid switching with another person’s drink. When you are in charge of what you consume, you will minimize the risk of partaking in an alcoholic beverage.
Remember that when you bring juice, bottled water, or sparkling water to keep it away from the other community coolers. Most people who attend picnics or parties don’t plan; therefore, they could be looking for non-alcoholic drinks and will not think twice to drink yours by the end of the night. Asking the host if you could keep them in an area away from guests helps to prevent this from happening.
Have a Way Out
There is security in knowing that you always have a way out. Creating an exit plan allows you a great sense of freedom when or if things become too overwhelming. You can appoint a sober friend beforehand to not only help steer you away from triggering situations at the party but to help you leave when you are ready. You might want to leave after five minutes or five hours—no matter, ensuring that you have a way out will bring peace of mind when you want to go.
You can also drive yourself; this way, you can leave at any point without having to ask a friend. Having a way out keeps you from overstaying or fear that you do not fit in; it allows you to uphold the most important rule: putting your recovery first.
Determine if You Should Go
You might be eager to get out and back into a social setting, especially after a year of having to stay socially distant. However, it is essential to know where you are in recovery and be honest about this because you mustn’t attend a social event at the expense of your sobriety. Evaluate the event and determine whether it will present too much temptation or make you feel uncomfortable. If there is any doubt, don’t attend.
However, this does not mean you will never be ready. As you continue to work and pursue recovery, you will gain more confidence and resilience to handle more difficult situations. It is best not to rush yourself. Instead, look to your peers in recovery or friends and family who don’t need alcohol to have a good time and make plans with them. You can go hiking, camping, or sit on the beach. These events will provide stress-free environments where you can focus on relaxing and connecting with your loved ones.
If you are uncertain about attending social events and are experiencing negative thoughts and behaviors, then the time to get help is now. At Renaissance Ranch, we provide comfortable settings where men can come and develop the tools needed to develop resiliency and self-trust in recovery. The approach to care here incorporates methods that are grounded in conventional, unconventional, and faith-based treatments. Our mission is to help men become as prepared as possible to enter back into their everyday life. We also incorporate and utilize our inspiring surroundings to create real-world atmospheres and scenarios that are essential for recovery. If you are ready for transformative and uplifting approaches to care, where you can attain purpose and meaning, then Renaissance Ranch is the destination for you. Remember, your recovery and best success happen when you take that first step toward healing. Find out more and call us today at (801) 308-8898.