While many look forward to holiday parties and end of the year celebrations, this time of year can be extremely stressful if you’re a recovering alcoholic. It can be difficult to integrate back into social events and holidays amplify your challenge to stay sober with open bars and alcohol everywhere you look. You know that staying sober takes effort, patience, and skills to combat difficult situations. So preparation is going to be key as you embark on this holiday season. These tips can help you avoid relapse and come out on the other side even stronger.
Should You Go?
Initially, recovering alcoholics may find themselves asking if they should even go to the holiday work event. At first it may seem that just avoiding the awkward moments, social anxiety, and chance of embarrassment all together is enough reason to make up an excuse not to go. However, more often than not, isolating oneself increases your potential to feel depressed and lonely, which often triggers the desire to drink. Now, you may be thinking, “but what if my coworkers also have the tendency to make me feel just as isolated and depressed?” Below you will find some tips to overcome these social difficulties. However, ultimately consulting with your Stairway to Freedom counselor will help you decide what the right choice is for you at this time. But keep in mind that every day you succeed without alcohol, you get stronger, and the confidence to simply get your foot in the door will carry you another step further from the depths of addiction. If you’re ready for this next challenge in your on-going journey of recovery, these tools can help you conquer the holiday evening.
Work Event Tips for Recovering Alcoholics
Coworkers and newer friends may not know that you are recovering. What is nice about this is you have a clean slate. No one looking over your shoulder and judging your choices. No one is questioning how you’re managing and functioning. No one is making awkward comments about alcohol being “bad anyways” and they should “probably quit too.” You avoid all these awkward stressors, but are confronted with the unfortunate task of how to respond when someone asks to get you a refill or how to not pull attention to your lack of alcohol without going down a personal path you don’t want to talk about.
If you can, bring your own drink to the party, or if there’s a bartender, get to the event a little early and talk to that bartender. You don’t have to tell them your life story, but some interaction to get to know them will help that server remember your face and your drink. Ease into the conversation a question about what types of mocktails the bar could concoct up for you for the evening or introduce them to one of your favorite recipes. Bartenders are usually excited to mix it up and this is an easy creative task that will leave you feeling at ease as you approach the bar throughout the night and able to hold a drink in your hand without discomfort.
One of the biggest stressors at a holiday party is knowing how to manage the bits of peer pressure and what to say when someone asks you what you’re drinking. Having answers prepared will help you sail through these otherwise awkward moments with ease.
What are you drinking?
This common question can raise your anxiety, but a plan to answer will get you through it. Let them know it’s a specialty mocktail the bartender agreed to make for you since you are watching your sugar intake. The other person may joke that they should be watching their sugar too, but the reality is they are not going to start tonight and will most likely leave the drink alone. This can also seamlessly lead to other dietary conversations outside of drinks that will quickly get you out of the beverage discussion.
Can I get you a refill?
If someone asks to get you a drink, tell them you were actually on your way over there already or you are on your way to the bathroom and will grab it on the way back. This will help you dodge any further drink questions, get you out of the situation and allow you to go up to the bar and order your mocktail yourself.
Come on, celebrate with us, will you take a shot?
There’s always that one at the party who gathers a bunch together and pushes for a group shot. Keep in mind that though there is a lot of build up in this situation, the actual shot takes seconds and you are certainly not missing out on anything. Bow out of this quick situation with an easy excuse to have to be up early the next morning and find new people to talk to for the night.
Have an Excuse to Leave
It’s important to always have a couple excuses up your sleeve to quickly leave if you get uncomfortable or if you still have a curfew to meet with your chicago sober living community. An excuse to check your phone (like you’re waiting on a call/text) will give you the opportunity to connect with a support group or fellow Stairway to Freedom members as needed throughout the night to provide that extra encouragement to conquer any challenges. It will be helpful to also have an excuse to leave the event early.
You don’t have to spend the entire night at the party, give yourself a timeline that makes sense for you and stick to it. Set an alarm on your phone and let them know you have to go take the dog out, pick up a kid, get to the pharmacy before it closes..etc. Essentially just give yourself an easy out.
Discuss and share these holiday work event tips for recovering alcoholics with your friends and Chicago sober living community. Talking through any anxiety and preparing for any challenges that may arise will help get you ready to take this next step toward a sense of normalcy. Mocktails, rehearsed answers, and an easy out will provide you with little tools to triumph through the night. Take each moment one at a time and remember that your Stairway to Freedom Chicago sober living community is always a text away and will be ready to celebrate your return from the night sober and stronger.