It never feels like every event revolves around alcohol until you have decided to live your life without it. For those who have recently left rehab and are just beginning to navigate through life sober, events that were once exciting because they involved drinking can now appear nerve-racking and intimidating for the same reason.
Although it may seem like the easiest option is to stay home where you will be as far away from the temptation as possible, this is not always a healthy or longstanding solution. While it very well could be a smart decision to deny the Facebook invite you received to a college friends annual beer pong championship, work events are another story altogether. While work performance should always be your main focus, in today’s society interacting with co-workers socially can be equally important to fitting into your office culture and excelling with your company.
Luckily, with the following tips, you can RSVP yes to your next work event without the looming stress of alcohol ruining the excitement and fun you should reasonably feel.
1. Create an Exit Plan
You have decided you are attending the office happy hour this Thursday. Of course, you understand there will be alcohol around you, but you are comfortable in the fact that you can say no to alcoholic drinks which will be offered to you. However, you can never predict every situation that may arise in your professional or personal life that day which might push you out of this comfort zone. Developing an exit plan so that you can leave politely and swiftly will help you in avoiding these types of sticky situations.
A few tips when creating an exit plan include the following:
• Take your own car there and do not offer a ride home to anyone who will be drinking. Being stuck at a party with no way out could push you to an uncomfortable place.
• If you must be accompanied, have a chat with them beforehand and let them know there is a chance you may begin to feel uncomfortable and need to leave. Develop a code word or signal to give your friend the heads up that it is time to go.
• Think of a valid excuse ahead of time, if you do not wish to tell co-workers that you feel uncomfortable. Recovering from an addiction is nothing to feel ashamed of, but it is understandable that you would not want to bring work colleagues into your personal affairs.
2. Have a Non-Drinking Buddy
Bringing along a friend or having a co-worker at the party with you that also does not drink can be a huge benefit. Not only will you feel less alone, but you will have someone there who understands your situation and can relate to your feelings. On top of this, if the situation does start to take a turn for the worse, your partner in sobriety can help in making sure both of you make positive choices (and you can do the same for them).
3. Alter Your Perspective
Alcoholics can’t help but see every event as an event that revolves around drinking. This is usually because when you were addicted to alcohol, you could make any event into an alcohol-focused event. However, it is important to remember that usually this is not the intent of the outing. Will there be music, sports, activities, a show? Focus on other ways you can enjoy the event, without alcohol.
4. Keep Your Hands Filled
Every recovering alcoholic will tell you that the most difficult part about going to events that involve alcohol is the amount of people who ask you if you would like a drink. Work events are no different, especially because people will be looking for talking points and will want to be polite. However, if your hands are already full, you most likely will not be asked if you’d like another drink. Whether it’s appetizers or a non-alcoholic beverage, making sure your hands aren’t empty will deter your co-workers focus to other points of discussion.
5. Have Someone Looking Out For You
If you know you will be attending a work event that will involve alcohol, text or call a friend or family member to let them know. Tell them where the party is, and ask them to send you a text if you aren’t home by a certain time. Make sure to text or call them to let them know you are home and sober. Even if this is not a huge concern for them, it is a little victory for you and each time you do so will make you that much more confident that you can navigate through events like this with ease.
Remember to never put yourself in a situation in which you do not feel completely comfortable. If you do have a slip or relapse, you can always contact the counselors with Destination Hope to go over your options.