When You Don't Drink But Your Friends Do
How to stay sober in social situations where other people are drinking.
Maybe you always downed a six-pack while watching football with the guys, so
it's challenging to get through a Super Bowl party sober. Or you always drank
when you smoked socially, so being offered a cigarette at a party might make
you crave liquor. Any activity that you've closely paired with alcohol in the
past may trigger the desire to drink, Willenbring says. Turning down a
cigarette, an invitation to a Super Bowl party, or another problem activity can
help you avoid high-risk situations.
Use the Buddy System
For many recovering alcoholics, it's too difficult to be the only nondrinker
in the room. Whenever possible, ask a friend or relative to attend a social
event with you sober. Alternately, invite another recovering alcoholic. "Many
spouses or partners will voluntarily stop drinking," Willenbring says. "I don't
think it's fair to require it, but there's nothing wrong with asking."
Be the Designated Driver
This tactic won't work for everyone, and its success depends on your comfort
level around people who are drinking. "Some people do find a positive role in
[transforming themselves from the drinking buddy to the designated driver],"
Willenbring says. "The group can accept them in a different way; they don't
have to expel them."
For others, being the only sober person in the room can be awkward, and
being responsible for getting other people home may be too much pressure. "I've
been the designated driver before, but I don't like to do that, in case I want
to leave early to protect myself," says Elaine from Aurora, Colo., a recovering
alcoholic who asked that her full name not be used. "I make sure that I have my
own transportation - either my own car or a taxicab phone number."
Accentuate the Positive
Staying focused on the reasons why you've decided not to drink can get you
through difficult moments. "Really think about your payoffs for not drinking,"
Cornett says. "You won't have the hangover in the morning. Maybe when you drink
too much you behave like a fool, so your reputation and self-esteem will be
intact the next morning."