From professional dinners over drinks to the more recent appearance of the “wine mom,” a type of suburban mother who turns to an extra glass of red in the evening to destress, drinking is normalized in contemporary society. It brings people together, helps us relax, and makes for a festive environment. Unfortunately, for those who struggle with alcoholism or are trying to stay sober, mainstream drinking culture can be isolating and painful.
How do folks in recovery or who have simply chosen sobriety navigate common social situations? These 3 strategies can keep you from feeling like a black sheep, whether at work or at play.
Get Your Own Drinks
One of the greatest dangers to the recovering alcoholic is the interference of well meaning friends. Since most people live by the commonly accepted rule that everyone can just “drink sensibly” and be fine, you can be certain that in the spirit of having a good time, there will always be someone who brings you a vodka tonic when you ask for a club soda. In order to guard against this well-meaning interference, always order and pick-up your own drink when out with friends or others from work.
Anyone who has been to AA or gone to a recovery program knows that there are many other people living in recovery so if socializing around alcohol is stressful for you, you might consider joining a sober living community. Made up of others in recovery, most residents are recently out of rehab, but it’s also a good way to avoid feeling isolated. As a form of communal housing, sober living communities are an opportunity to share in meals and social events outside of our alcohol-driven society.
Talk About It
There are plenty of reasons someone might not drink for reasons other than alcoholism, but regardless of your reasoning, it helps to have a go-to excuse – honest or not – for abstaining in social situations. For a long time, Ally Hall told friends she was taking a prescription or doing a cleanse despite the fact that she was abstaining out of a desire to take control of her actions. Sara Mai Chitty explains to others that she belongs to a First Nations community that abstains from drinking as part of their religious beliefs. Why you drink isn’t necessarily anyone’s business but a small lie can make your social interactions less stressful if it keeps people from asking questions or pushing alcohol on you.
Sobriety is a positive choice for many people, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a popular choice. Take the pressure off of your decisions and keep a drink in your hand and feel free to change the subject if questioned. This is your health and your future and sobriety is your choice and yours alone.