How To Survive Social Functions When You’re In Recovery

Photo via Pixabay by Jarmoluk

When you’re in recovery, it can feel like the whole world is against you. Going out and participating in social functions is not just difficult; for some, it can be overwhelming or even impossible. Many in recovery avoid those situations altogether, especially during the first few months of sobriety, and that’s okay. However, you may find it hard to stay away, either because of work obligations or because staying away means not seeing your friends and family. 

There’s never an easy answer when it comes to staying sober, and what works for someone else might not work for you. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to put yourself and your needs first sometimes and that you’re not in this alone. If necessary, recruit a buddy or sponsor to help you through it and to give you advice on how to stay on track

Here are some of the best tips on how to do just that.

Bring a Friend

If possible, have a sober buddy at your side. If it’s someone who is also in recovery, you could be putting their sobriety at risk as well, so it might be a good idea to find someone who simply doesn’t drink. It’s much easier to go through a social situation with someone who will stay sober with you. Make sure they know why it’s important for you not to partake in the festivities and work out a signal before you go in in case you need to make a quick exit.

Leave Social Functions Early

Don’t feel obligated to make excuses; simply let the host know that you can’t stay and wish them a lovely evening. Most parties and events that serve alcohol tend to be more raucous at the end of the night, so make plans to leave after you’ve stayed an appropriate amount of time.

Have a Plan At Social Functions

If there will be people at the event that you don’t know, it might be helpful to come up with a “script” of sorts to help avoid awkward questions and conversations. They might not know that you’re in recovery, and while you probably don’t want to get in-depth about what you’re going through, being able to say no to a drink firmly means you might need to give a reason. 

Bring Along Some Help

Just as smokers sometimes need something to help them with an oral fixation when they’re quitting, people in recovery sometimes need a little help, too. Hard candy and mints are a great item to keep in your purse or pocket; not only does it keep your mouth occupied, it helps direct your sense of smell so that the scent of alcohol isn’t overpowering. 

Bring Your Own Drink To Social Functions

It may not be possible every time due to the venue, but if you can, bring along your own soda or bottled water. This will keep you from having to go near the bar and will save you from having to answer question after question about why you don’t have a drink. Keep it in your hand the entire time you’re at the event, and if you do set it down for some reason, get a fresh one rather than taking a chance on picking up someone else’s by mistake.

Maintain a Stable Home Life

We tend to forget that how healthy — or unhealthy — our home lives are can have a big impact on how we feel when we go out into the world. So do your best to optimize your home for healthy living. That means reducing your stress as much as possible and minding your diet and exercise. Often, that’s easier said than done, but it helps to view it as an investment, or even a gift that you’re giving your future self.

Additionally, there are some simple techniques you can follow to reduce your stress level before you even get into a tough situation. For instance, recognize your trigger points and try to halt negative thoughts; if you feel your heart rate skyrocketing, you know it’s time to step back and take a deep breath. Just being more mindful at home will help train your mind to be more mindful when you go out into the world — which, in turn, allows you to resist temptations, and recognize when it’s time to leave a social situation. 

Remember, if you have a bad experience during a social situation, it’s important to make it a point to go to a meeting or call your sponsor the next day to avoid backsliding or sinking into a depression. It’s easy to feel like an outsider, or like you’ll never be able to “have fun” again unless you use a substance, so block those thoughts before they can even come and get some support right away. If no one is available and you can’t get to a meeting, consider finding an online support group.

Dorothy Watson

Connect with Eric Scott Burdon to empower your passion, goals, and purpose!

About The Author

Dorothy Watson has been an advocate for mental wellness after watching her mother struggle throughout her childhood. She created the website

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