As the holidays draw nearer, we’ve been seeing a lot of “how not to drink during the holidays” type pieces circling around online. While we love this sentiment (we’ve actually written about before here, here, and here) and we love some people’s takes on the subject, it’s clear that some people really don’t understand the concept of a person having a drinking problem or addiction to alcohol.
At the much-anticipated premier of Office Christmas Party, the always lovely and hilarious Olivia Munn said that she cuts herself off after one drink “because it’s way more fun to remember everything than to…black out.” Sounds like the perfect plan, right? It’s simple. Just don’t drink more than one alcoholic beverage and your holidays will be joyous and filled with memories that you will always remember. Alas, it’s the perfect plan for “normal” people, ie: people who don’t have issues with alcohol addiction. Not to throw Olivia under the bus (and I’m totally not – love her!) but what she said got me thinking about how this is how most people approach drinking – as something that can be controlled. Most of America thinks that drinking is a socially acceptable pastime but the truth is that underneath all of that intoxicated holiday cheer, could be someone who is merely trying to cover up their suffering. In fact, 17.6 million people (that’s 1 in 12 adults) suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. That means that, at the very least, one person at any of your holiday parties is currently struggling with alcoholism or has in the past.
So, how can you attend a party this holiday season without reaching for a drink?
Look for Others Who Aren’t Drinking – and Make Like BFFs
One of our favorite sober bloggers, Kristi Coulter says, “Gamify it: go in with a list of people you want to talk to and make it happen. Or pay attention to who isn’t drinking. If the overall vibe is getting too boozy, home in on another non-drinker and chat about something. It doesn’t really matter what. You’re just looking for a place to anchor yourself and a reminder that totally normal people do these things sober all the time.”
BYOF (Bring Your Own Friends)
Better yet, BYOF (bring your own friends). Invite one or two of your most supportive friends to help you steer clear of that trendy bar cart with its fancy cocktails and its chic barware. Plus, bringing your own social circle will ensure you always have someone to talk to.
Don’t Let FOMO Get You Down
If you feel like the party is getting too boozy for you to handle – there is always the option to leave. Get out of there and do something that brings you more happiness than being surrounded by a bunch of intoxicated people you may or may not like. Don’t let FOMO get the best of you. Trust us, you’re not missing anything. Do yourself one better and call your sponsor/sober companion and talk it out. Chances are, they’ve been right where you are and will know all the right things to do and say.
Keep Responses in Your Back Pocket
People will ask you why you’re not drinking. It’s an inevitable truth of sobriety. Be prepared with an answer that you feel most comfortable with. If you are ready to share about your recovery or sobriety then you go Glen Coco! However, if you feel uneasy just thinking about talking about it just say something like, “I’m taking it easy tonight,” and change the subject. No one needs to really know your business anyway.
Just Say No and Don’t Go
I’m going to leave you with one last tip: just say no. To your party invites, I mean. You don’t have to go to anything that you don’t feel quite ready for yet. Especially if you are still in your first year of recovery or you’re newly sober, sometimes it easier to simply not attend. It’s okay to say no to things that you really don’t want to do.
As you RSVPs roll in, keep this list in mind. You are more in charge than you allow yourself to be. I hope this helps you – let me know if it did in the comments below and if you have any tips of your own – I’d love to hear them. If you are reading this as someone who is currently struggling with alcohol addiction, call The Discovery House today at the number below.