Parties are a time to relax and let loose. Some people may find drinking to be helpful in these situations, as alcohol lowers inhibitions. For this reason, it’s common for beer, wine, and other alcoholic drinks to be served at social gatherings. However, there are many reasons why people may opt not to drink at all. They might be the designated driver for their companions or have a medical condition that prevents them from consuming alcohol. They also may be a teetotaler or practicing a sober lifestyle as part of being in recovery.
It may feel awkward to be sipping soda water while everyone else is getting inebriated, but that shouldn’t keep you from enjoying yourself. If you’re a non-drinker and feel confident about not being pressured to join the drinking, here are some tips to help you get into a party mood while teetotaling.
Inform the Host About Your Sober Status
If the party is being hosted by a good friend, it may help to let them know about your sobriety beforehand. You can opt to explain your reason for not drinking as this can help them understand your situation better, or you can simply state that it is a personal decision. Do remain gracious and clarify that other drinkers will not bother you. In this way, the host will know not to offer you any alcohol and may be able to speak up for you if other guests try to convince you to drink.
Bring Your Own Drinks
Instead of assuming that non-alcoholic drink options will be available, make sure to bring your own with enough to share. This will also help you ensure that your drinks are truly alcohol-free as some mixes still contain a small amount of alcohol. You can even dress up your sparkling water with a wedge of lime or fruit garnish to make it look more festive and more like a cocktail. Consider trying virgin Shirley Temples and mocktails made of fruit juices and club soda, and avoid prepared drinks like non-alcoholic beer, which may still contain up to 0.5% alcohol by volume.
If the party is at a bar, however, make sure to bring extra cash as non-alcoholic beverages may not be covered by the host’s bar tab.
Whether you’re at a party for fun or because of obligations, make the most of the situation by engaging with the people around you. Chat with your friends or start a conversation with someone you’ve just met. Keep discussions light and stay away from divisive topics like politics and religion. Being engaged in social interactions allows you to feel more involved in the festivities without participating in the drinking.
Pour your own drink before joining a toast and graciously decline to join drinking games. A simple and firm “no” should suffice, but if you find yourself pestered with persistent invitations to drink, you can excuse yourself and move to a different area of the room or with a different group of people.
Be Open about Your Sobriety
Alternatively, you can choose to tell others about your sobriety and why you choose to stay sober. Doing this often requires a certain level of comfort and confidence as well as the right kind of delivery. Focus on talking about your own experience, and do not try to make others feel guilty about their choice to drink. Most people will respond in support, but should you encounter naysayers, resist the urge to argue as it may spoil the mood for everyone. You can change the topic or lighten the mood with a well-placed joke.
Call for Backup
If you find your vigilance waning, have a trusted friend that you can call for support and reassurance. Make sure to let them know of your party plans beforehand so they know to pick up when you call. If you are in recovery, it helps to have a “sponsor” or sober companion who will check up on you regularly and encourage your progress. Attending a Dallas drug rehab or similar treatment center should help you develop a network of people who will support your sobriety.
Know When to Leave
When you start feeling triggered or uncomfortable, then it’s time to go, even if the party is far from over. It’s important to remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible to lessen the risk of giving in to the urge to drink. While “ghosting” gets a lot of flak when it comes to text communications, leaving a party early without giving notice to the host may be acceptable in this situation. Leave as soon as you feel too uncomfortable and do it quietly so as not to upset the host and other guests. Do make sure to send the host a note afterward to thank them for their hospitality. Alternatively, you can inform them ahead of time that you may need to leave early so they don’t worry if they no longer see you around.
Choosing to be sober doesn’t have to put a damper on your social life or prevent you from enjoying parties. It requires some adjustments and plenty of support from your network, but it is possible. Just make sure to remember to prioritize your health and safety over enjoyment.