Being The Only Non-Drinker At The Party & Tips On How To Survive
Yesterday I was officially 14-months-sober from alcohol. Yesterday my sobriety was also put to the test. I believe that I passed the test, but yet still failed it in a way. How is this even possible you may be asking? Well, I didn’t drink which is how I passed. But I wanted to scream and let out this growing feeling of misery and uncomfortability that was at my core being. I hated the way I felt. I wanted to drown this woman (me) that started to hate everyone with a drink in their hand. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t jealous or the people who could drink.
I was invited to my boyfriend’s daughters’ 21st birthday party which also doubled as a Halloween party. I was told that attendance was mandatory. I was uncomfortable with the thought of going in the first place. Not because I didn’t want to go, but because I knew there would be alcohol everywhere. After all, it was a 21st birthday party and what does that mean to most people? That it’s time to get faded.
It was honestly nothing against my boyfriend’s daughter because I absolutely adore her. She is such a wonderful young woman. But I knew from the beginning that being the only non-drinker at the party was going to be challenging. I just didn’t anticipate how challenging it was going to be. If I wouldn’t have had to worry about being homeless if I were to drink, I would have poured myself a glass of the lovely mixed drink that seemed to be in everyone else’s hand. The smell of alcohol on everyone was maddening and overpowering. I kept going outside in the cold, rainy weather to get away from it all.
I held such a deep-rooted resentment toward my boyfriend for not allowing to partake in the festivities. He told me that since I didn’t care about being sober at that point, that he was going to care for me. I wanted to gouge his fucking eyes out.
If you are in recovery and are worried about attending a holiday party, I can offer you some advice and tips on how I got through it. I am not telling you that you are going to feel comfortable being around your drug of choice and that it is going to be all sunshine and cupcakes, but that doesn’t mean that you have to relapse either. I do not advise anyone in early recovery to put themselves in the same situation that I was in, either. If you don’t have to go to a party just yet, then don’t go. It is so much easier to sit at home and be sober than it is to be around everyone having fun with a drink in their hand.
1. Keep A Non-Alcoholic Drink In Your Hand At All Times
Not everyone is going to be aware that you are in recovery and often times people are going to ask you if you would like a drink. If you already have a drink in your hand you can simply say, “I’m good,” and lift your drink up. When you see everyone else drinking you can sip on your soda or juice. Plus, you hand is occupied with the non-alcoholic drink in your hand so you won’t need to pick up anything else.
2. Walk Away
If you start to feel really uncomfortable by seeing everyone else partaking in the festivities and you know you can’t, then walk away for a moment. Go outside, go to an unoccupied room, go for a walk. Hell, if you have to, go to the restroom. Regardless of how you get away, just do it.
3. Snacks Can Be Your Friend
I am not telling you to eat everything in sight, but snacking can be an excellent way to curb a craving for a bit. I have been told by numerous people in recovery, including my dad and sponsor, that indulging in chocolate can be a great way to curb alcohol and drug cravings too. Yesterday, to be honest, I ate more than I should have but at least while I was eating I didn’t want to drink and I was a little less miserable.
4. Recruit A Sober Buddy
While I may have said that everyone was drinking, my boyfriend actually doesn’t drink. If it weren’t for him I would have relapsed last night. You need to have someone with you who knows that you are in recovery. It is not wise to go to a party of any kind without someone else who is going to stay sober with you as well. This should have been number one.
5. Make Phone Calls
If you are really feeling the urge to get faded with everyone else, start making phone calls to other people who are in recovery as well. They usually can offer you tons of encouragement. Plus, it gives you something else to do to take your mind off of drinking or using. It gives you a chance to vent about your frustrations as well.
6. Get It Out
Don’t bottle up your feelings, it never works out well. Talk to you sober buddy, call someone, talk to a trusted friend or family member at the party about having a hard time. Try not to vent to someone who has been using, though. As alone as you may feel, you are not really alone. If you are a blogger who uses WordPress, pull out your phone and start blogging. Create a journal entry on your phone. Do something. Sitting with unpleasant feelings can cause you to boil over making it easier to relapse.
7. Have An Escape Plan
If things get too difficult or challenging for you, don’t stay. I arrived at the party early, well before the first guest arrived. Then left when everything was “getting good.” Mike’s daughter knows somewhat about my history with drinking and was okay that we were leaving early. Other people, I simply mentioned that I was feeling unwell. Try not to go to parties unless you know you will have a way out.
Have a safe and happy holiday season! Halloween is just a few days away!
Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.