If you are struggling with recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction, parties can be a source of stress and challenges. How do you join in and have a good time without risking your sobriety? Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself for a stress-free gathering, and some ideas of what you can do at the party to avoid triggers.
First and foremost, stay focused on your own recovery. Don't get caught up in other people's problem behavior. It's enough to work on your own issues. Focusing on other people's lack of control around food or drink or smoking is a great way to get off track with your own goals.
Take responsibility for your past behavior. There may be people at the party who feel hurt and resentful about how you've behaved in the past, and they may air their grievances at the party. If that happens, don't deny it. But, remind them calmly that you are sorry for the past, and that you are in recovery now. Then change the subject to something else.
If people start talking about how much they drank at other occasions, or share stories about drunken or drug induced escapades, excuse yourself from the conversation. That kind of talk is toxic to your own recovery. Go find something to do, like offering to help with setup, cleanup, or food preparation. An added bonus is the boost to self-esteem that comes from doing something for someone else.
Bring your own beverages. One way to make sure you have something non-alcoholic in your glass is to bring it yourself. Bring a non-alcoholic bottle or a festive and interesting punch to share with others that even the children can enjoy. You may find yourself the hero for other adults who would just as soon limit their consumption of alcohol.
Watch out for people who may try to undermine your recovery. It's not unusual for some people to try to get you to have a drink or do drugs with them. Politely decline. You don't need to give an explanation. If they keep it up, find a reason to excuse yourself.
Participate in things you can do to have fun without alcohol or drugs. Spend some time playing with the kids and getting to know them better. Kids are great and they're always having fun. Participate in outdoor activities like lawn darts, tossing the football, corn hole, and other physical activities. If you have any good outdoor games, bring them with you and get others involved.
Have an exit strategy. Make sure you have a way to leave if you need to. If the host is someone who is supporting your recovery, let them know ahead of time that you may need to leave and ask that they please support you if you do. It may mean creating a story that gives you an honorable way to exit. Make sure your car is not hemmed in by others so you don't need to call attention to the fact that you are leaving.
We hope you all have a safe, healthy, and happy 4th of July weekend!