“First you take a drink,
then the drink takes a drink,
then the drink takes you.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, U.S. novelist
I used to hate people like me, people like I am now. Boring, unimaginative, socially-inept geeks who I wouldn’t even bother trying to communicate with (I mean, come on, what-could-we -possibly-have-in-common kind of geeks), let alone give up my valuable “drinking, having fun and being loved for my sparkling wit” time for even speaking to them. Urgh… No way, José.
A little “socially-inept” myself, wouldn’t you say, looking back now? Yes, I would.
The reason I used to hate those people without a decent drink in their hand was quite simple.
I’d usually be drunk (Olympic-standard drunk, that is, not just politely dipping your toe) at such social events as friends’ birthday parties, weddings, christenings, housewarmings, funeral wakes (actually, the funerals themselves, too, if the truth be told), business conventions, Christmas office parties… I’d be verging on completely wasted at pretty much the whole spectrum of social gatherings.
In fact (again, truth be told), most of the time, I’d already be pretty D.O.A. (drunk on arrival…).
And so, being the kind of drunk I was, it just seemed completely alien to me how someone could attend such things and not drink. “Come on, no drinking? Not just one? Seriously?” How someone could be there, at one of those things, and not even have a single glass of wine, let alone get drunk, mystified me, really. Alien, totally alien.
And then I got sober myself…
When I say “sober,” I mean properly so. One day, my long-suffering family had finally had enough – just like my employers, my girlfriends, and many, many others before them. Enough was enough. This alcoholism was killing me. My family could see it for themselves. They reacted differently to their predecessors, however.
They researched, sought out, selected, and then very kindly delivered my drunken backside to somewhere that would actually help me – an alcohol rehab in the next state over, where I could be medically detoxed from the years of poison in my body, and then full rehabilitated with my new clean and sober life in a lasting way. I say “very kindly” because it wouldn’t have been somewhere I volunteered to go at that point in my life, believe me.
Here I am, nearly one whole ten-year decade down that road, and I’m still clean and sober. However, I’m still learning every single day. It’s that learning, that experience, and the education I received in the rehab that I wish to share with you, or, more specifically, the particular knowledge of how to attend social events and deal with the presumed presence of alcohol – in other words, your “4 Ways to Deal with Alcohol Socially for Those in Recovery.”
#1. Your Sobriety is You
There are many, many things that recovery gives you, and one of those is the sense of pride you can take from actually being in recovery, being clean and sober every day, and being this new-found person, this new-found you. Being an ex-alcoholic in recovery, and being truly proud of that fact, is a refreshing honesty and authenticity for someone who’d for so long been an addict.
I remember the first occasion I openly said, “No thank you. I don’t drink.” I also remember the first time I was pushed as to “Why?” and that I replied, “Alcohol and I don’t mix. I’m better sober.” Man, how good it felt to simply tell the truth, how empowering. Sobriety is now a proud part of what defines me.
#2. People Will Ask “Why?”
As I’ve just described, people get curious, and some people will ask “Why?” It’s completely up to you how you respond. Remember, people who are asking are undoubtedly just being plain nosey, but that’s just people for you. You can tell them what you like – the empowering truth, a variant of the truth, or whatever else you want. I have found, however, that if you tell people you’re a recovering alcoholic, it only brings on a whole heap of more questions, so be prepared. However you do respond, always try and be true to yourself.
#3. Only Attend Because You Want To
Recovery also brings choice. As a sober person, I’m far choosier about what events to go to, and what ones to avoid. Put simply, if I don’t want to go, I don’t go. I don’t stand on ceremony for anyone. In sobriety, I do far more of what I want to do. So, if I go to an event where it’s a fact there’ll be plenty of alcohol, I go for a reason – good friends, excellent music, whatever. It has to be for a reason.
#4. Relax – Sobriety Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry
Seriously… Well, maybe “never” is an exaggeration, but you get what I mean. No more apologizing to your boss/spouse/partner/parent/family member/best friend* (*delete as applicable) the following day, because, once again, you’ve overstepped the mark – well, jumped it again, to be honest. Social events invariably meant social mishaps and social quicks and when I was actively addicted.
As a permanent drunk, I simply got past the point of caring who I’d offended – it was their problem, so let them deal with it. What a terrible way to live… Now, however, I never even get close to saying the wrong thing, or doing something others disagree with. In fact, most of the time, I’m quite cool to be around (so I’m told), and certainly much better to be in the company of now that I finally got the excellent treatment I so desperately needed. You will undoubtedly be too.
Lastly, Go Easy…
If you are going to attend an ad hoc social gathering or an organized social event, and you know that alcohol will be present too, bear these “4 Ways to Deal with Alcohol Socially for Those in Recovery” in mind:
- Your Sobriety is You
- People Will Ask “Why?”
- Only Attend Because You Want To
- Relax – Sobriety Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry
Go easy, as I often say now. That means be relaxed about this group of people who may be drinking alcohol, because that’s all they are. Yes, they may not understand you, they may ask questions, you may think “Why am I bothering?” but whatever the circumstances, be relaxed and proud that you no longer drink. Their drinking (and possible drunkenness) is their lookout.
What experiences do you have of attending social events as a non-drinker, or even as someone in recovery from alcoholism? Feel free to pass on your experiences or ideas about other useful strategies in a comment below – thanks.
And yes, lastly, go easy.
Article Submitted By Community Writer