Staying Sober at a Holiday Party

Business group people in santa hat at party

It’s the time of year when parties seem to be springing up everywhere and if you’re in recovery, you may be wondering where you and parties stand. First of all, you need to evaluate your own recovery progress, preferably along with your addiction counselor, to decide if you’re ready to attend a party where drugs or alcohol might be present. Chances are if you’re in your first year of recovery, a party isn’t a safe place for you.

If you’re more of an addiction veteran and you’re thinking you’re ready to hit the party scene, you still need to protect your recovery. You may be more vulnerable than you know and you need to be prepared to manage triggers and cravings. Setting up and sticking to a few simple party rules will ensure that you have a fun and safe time this holiday season.

Be a Man or Woman With a Plan

Staying clean and sober at a party begins before you ever walk out the door. Decide ahead of time that you will not drink or use at all at the party. If you can’t honestly commit to that, then you’re not ready to go to a party. Even a little slip can have big consequences, so you need to be ready to stay away from harmful substances altogether. Practice out loud, preferably with a friend, how you will say no if someone offers you a drink or drugs. Before you leave for the party, take a quiet minute to say a prayer and ask your Father in Heaven for help and calmness throughout the evening.

Arrange for a Wingman

Ask a friend or family member who you trust and can have fun with to come to the party with you and to remain clean and sober. You’ll feel more relaxed if you know you’re not the only one not drinking, and your wingman can keep an eye on you and help you stay strong. You could choose a friend from your recovery group, or someone close to you who has been very supportive. Whoever you take with you, make sure they understand that you can’t drink or use and that they shouldn’t either tonight. Arrange to call and check in with your sponsor as well, just to add some extra accountability.

Serve Yourself

Take responsibility for your own sobriety at a party by maintaining complete control over what you’re eating and drinking. Many recovering addicts opt to bring their own bottle of water to a party, just to keep things simple. If you show up empty handed, get a non-alcoholic drink right when you get there and keep it with you all night. This will keep others from buying you a drink. Never leave your drink unattended, and if you do, get a new one rather than risk a costly mix up.

Make a Hasty Exit

You may find that the pressure of a party is simply too much for you at this stage of recovery and that’s okay. If you’re feeling compromised, don’t try to be strong or wait it out, just politely excuse yourself and leave. Your recovery needs to come first and you won’t be having any fun at a party when you’re putting yourself at risk for a relapse.