I told you yesterday that my Date Night didn’t go exactly as planned on Saturday. Well the original plan was to go to my friend’s party in Brooklyn.
A girlfriend of mine from high school was hosting a Stranger Party. What’s a Stranger Party you ask? It’s a party where you bring someone that most likely does not not know anyone else who might also be attending and then you all have a good time meeting new people. When she told me about it over Mexican a few weeks ago I was super excited! Normally I shy away from parties because, more often than not, there is a signficant amount of heavy drinking at 20-somethings parties. But if I feel safe with the person who is throwing the party, I’m all for it.
Even though I didn’t go to the party on Saturday, I figured I would share my “attending parties sober” advice….
I didn’t go to any parties/bars in my first year of sobriety because I was too scared and rightfully so. I think it’s good to have this healthy fear. It wasn’t just the fear that I might end up tempted to drink myself, but also…how do I interact with drunk people? Also, I was afraid everyone would notice that I wasn’t drinking and therefore end up being labeled as the freak. As I stuck around in recovery, people helped me become more knowledgable about how to handle social situations that involve alcohol (even in professional settings!). I will never feel 100% comfortable at a party that involves alcohol no matter how long I’ve been sober, but it does eventually get bearable.
Some tips for going to parties where alcohol will be served:
- Call your sponsor or another friend from the rooms before you go and let them know where you’re going and what time you plan to leave.
- Bring someone who supports your recovery with you to the event. Either a fellow AA or someone close to you who won’t be drinking. Sticking together makes the whole thing a bit more bearable.
- BYOS (bring your own soda) just in case it’s a lame college party and the host doesn’t consider that not everyone wants to drink from a keg.
- Don’t ever let someone hold your cup for you. You never know what could happen to it while you aren’t watching.
- If you must travel by car to this party, never volunteer to be the designated driver (see Tip 6 for why not).
- Always have a way out. If you start to feel uncomfortable, don’t feel obligated to stay for any reason. Make sure you have a way to get home safely at all times.
- Call someone in your network on your way home from the party.
Being around alcohol doesn’t bother me a whole lot 3.5 years later but it used to. If someone has a drink at dinner I won’t freak out. If I have to be in the room with a bunch of raging drunk people… I will leave.
The number one reason I don’t like to be in alcohol-related situations today is that I value honest connection. When I can have an honest conversation with a stranger or new friend without involving alcohol or other substances, it makes me feel real. That is the way I want to build relationships today. Who wants to make a first impression on someone when they are wasted?? In my case, you probably wouldn’t have wanted to meet me a second time.
My suggestion to those who are new in recovery: avoid parties with alcohol altogether. If you want entertainment and good company, go to a meeting! I guarantee you that you will laugh at least once. And if you need your dose of being around hardcore partiers, go to a meeting. Most likely the people there have crazier stories to tell than than you do.
What do you do at parties to stay safe?