There’s a popular misconception about sobriety that the party ends when we stop drinking. Contrary to popular belief, your life doesn’t have to become boring, routine and unexciting when you get sober. Recovery looks different for everyone, but if socializing is something you are fond of, you shouldn’t have to give up every party and night out just because you no longer drink. So, what do you do? Thinking about partying sober can be daunting, but following these 5 steps can help you stay on track.
1. Find a worthwhile event to attend
I don’t know about you, but when I was drinking, I attended any and every event, get-together, party, birthday celebration, wine night, or dinner where drinks were being served. I never said no. I was looking for a party all the time. In sobriety, I decided to only attend events that are worthwhile. What does that mean? It means that I only want to attend events that serve a purpose, celebrate someone I care about, commemorate a certain occasion or make me feel good. Don’t attend just to do something. It might make you feel uncomfortable being around alcohol and those situations.
2. Attend with friends you feel safe and comfortable around
When I was drinking, I also went out with anyone. I had many different groups of friends and when I wanted to do something, I would go down the list and call each one until someone agreed to hang out with me. I had friends who I never really spoke with apart from when we were drinking. They served a purpose for me; I knew they would always be down to party. In sobriety, I’ve come to realize that in order to have a good time in a party setting, I need to feel comfortable around the friends I’m with. I don’t normally go out to party with random people anymore. I feel too vulnerable and out of place. I enjoy going out with friends who know me. They understand I don’t drink and they are there for me if I need support during the night. Being a part of a sober community, like Recovery Elevator, meetup groups or facebook communities, can be a good way to meet friends who are understanding of your situation.
3. Always have an escape route ready
I always give this tip to anyone newly sober, any sober person who ventures out to a social event, and anyone who wants to know how to party safely and sober. One of the beautiful things about sobriety is that you can always drive home after a night out. If you have your own car, drive yourself to the event you’re attending so that when you want to leave, you can do so without having to wait on anyone else. If you start to feel uncomfortable, you have the freedom to leave right away. You don’t necessarily need your own car to do this, but be sure to plan another option — whether that be a ride share service (like Uber or Lyft), a taxi or walking home. Make a plan in advance that you won’t have to wait around for anyone else. Your sobriety comes first.
4. Get a drink to hold
This is a personal preference, but I like to order a drink to carry and sip on. Some bars and clubs have non-alcoholic beer, but if this isn’t your thing, you can always get a water, soda or some other delicious alcohol-free mocktail. It’s familiar to me to dance with a drink in my hand and now it’s an added bonus that my drink doesn’t make me feel funny or encourage me to fall.
5. Have fun!
This is perhaps the most important element of partying sober: Have fun. If partying sober seems too stressful or overwhelming, then maybe it’s just not the right time in your sobriety or the right event to attend. Parties and clubs may not be places you find enjoyable anymore. Partying sober should make you feel good, not bad! There’s no shame in saying you aren’t ready to socialize in a setting where alcohol is present, or that you just don’t feel comfortable at certain places with certain people. In sobriety, we have to learn to speak up for ourselves. Protect your recovery, your well-being and your own personal comfort levels.
Remember, the ultimate goal for living sober is to return to a bigger and better life, free from the shackles of alcohol and drugs. What better way to do that than to enjoy yourself, not in spite of your sobriety, but because of your sobriety. The fun I have today is different from the fun I had when I drank because it comes with a secure sense of freedom.
If you struggle with drinking and want to learn to have fun in recovery, there are many options and support systems available. Contact The Recovery Village to learn more about treatment and to kick-start your recovery journey.