Maybe you are taking a break from the hooch? Perhaps you are cleansing or trying to live a healthier life without alcohol? Or maybe you are a recovering alcoholic? Either way, steering clear of booze in social situations, i.e., parties, holiday gatherings, dinners with coworkers, can be difficult.
Saying no to a drink may cause you embarrassment or you may be easily pressured into drinking when others are partaking. That’s why we are supporting your non-drinking efforts with eight tips for planning ahead and staying sober at social events…
1. Be Proactive
If you are not a person who does well in the face of peer pressure, avoid the temptation before you even enter the party by charting out a plan of attack. For instance, if you arrive early, you may be able to spend some quality time with the host, help them prepare appetizers, and leave early before the masses get tipsy.
2. Have a Wing Man or Woman
Entering a social event without support can be a disaster. So bring a friend or spouse for social support and to help you feel more comfortable. If you can’t bring a friend, tuck a supportive contact in your phone so you can take a break and call them if things get stressful.
3. Envision the Evening
A few visualization techniques can really go a long way, especially if you are attempting to avoid drinking in social situations. So go ahead and envision the evening in your head, map it out, if you will by going through the motions in your brain—see yourself arriving at the party, chatting with friends, excusing yourself to pour a non-alcoholic beverage at the bar, savoring some appetizers, and focus on enjoying quality time with friends instead of drinking the evening away.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Say “No Thanks!”
Saying no can make you feel rude or like you’re being a stick in the mud. However, if your no carries confidence and purpose, it won’t be questioned. For instance, if you’re not comfortable admitting you don’t drink in social situations, you don’t have to at all. You can say, “I’m not drinking this evening” or “I need to work in the morning.” You can also carry a glass of soda water and lemon so no one feels obligated to offer a top up.
5. Be the Designated Driver
If you’re the designated driver there is hardly ever a discussion on why you’re not drinking. It’s a powerful tool that social groups really respect and totally understand right away when you say “no thanks” to a glass of wine or a beer. Of course, no one needs to know that you are only driving yourself home. Safety first!
6. Focus on the Positive
Motivation requires focusing on the positive reasons for not drinking alcohol. So make a list of the positives for not drinking in your smartphone—things like “no hangover,” “you’ll be able to get up early the next day,” and “you won’t be consuming empty calories.” All of those positives can help reinforce and support your non-drinking goals in moments of weakness.
7. Have a Plan B
We all suffer moments of weakness. We are human after all. That’s why if you have a tendency to curb to the temptation of drinking, having an alternative plan of emergency is wise. For instance, keep the number of a cab in your wallet and give the host your car keys (and agree you will only get them back if you leave sober). If you are a recovering alcoholic, keep your Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor or emergency call line on hand if you need support or advice from a trusted or anonymous confidant.
8. Avoid Drinking Reminders
You may crave a drink when you smoke a cigarette (or vice versa) or you may have certain friends who don’t take no for an answer when it comes to having beers on Thursday nights. Certain foods, places, sports games, people, or holidays can all remind you of drinking. To avoid the temptation you may have to resist invitations from certain people to certain places for a time circumvent high-risk drinking situations.