I’m sure I’m not the only person who felt that in some ways this year has been a blessing in disguise. Getting to wear comfy pants all day, being able to reflect and reassess on where my life is at and not getting invited to as many events where people would be getting sloshed all around me. No matter how far along my journey of recovery I have come, I still find myself uneased and unsettled when I am in an environment where getting intoxicated seems to be the sole purpose of its existence. Alas, all good things must come to an end. As restrictions are eased and get-togethers and events are happening more frequently, it’s likely that some year-end functions might still be happening at the end of 2020. Here are The Journey Team’s top tips for coming out of that party sober.
1. Let everyone (or even just someone) in attendance know that you are sober. This immediately creates a sense of accountability. By taking this step, you reduce the chances of being unnecessarily pressured into having a drink and you might even earn the respect of your colleagues. The effectiveness of doing this can be enhanced by explaining your reasons for choosing sobriety and (if you’re comfortable) sharing your past battles with substance abuse. If you can’t reveal your sobriety to your entire set of colleagues, try speaking to just one person you trust. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. More often than not, one trusted person can be willing to go the extra mile to help you out if they understand your circumstances. Ask them to stay close on the night if need be. Knowing that they’re nearby and they’re supportive of your decision can be a huge mental boost.
2. Create a post-function check-in with someone who is aware of your predicament. This “someone” could be your romantic partner, sibling, a parent, or a friend, anyone who knows about your sobriety efforts. If your function is scheduled to end at 23h00, ask this designated person to call you at 23h15. This again, creates a form of accountability. Knowing that you have to check-in with someone after this event will keep you grounded.
3. Ask someone (perhaps the same person from the point above) if you can call them during the event if you feel like you need support. As someone who has grappled with substance abuse and other mental health disorders, I know how dangerous and frustrating it can be to exist in your own head. I only realise this when I actually reach out to someone for help or advice. These disastrous and pessimistic situations that I’ve been playing around in my head for days on end quickly dissolve when spoken about in a conversation with someone else. With this in mind, having the failsafe of being able to call a trusted person to talk you through pressure or anxiety at a work year-end function can be an amazing asset in protecting your sobriety.
4. If you can, invite a plus one, if you can’t, ask if you can. Being able to bring somebody with who would help you through this pressuring time can be a lifesaver. Feel free to take anyone who is willing to standby you and support your decision to remain sober. This is the highest form of accountability you can create for yourself and if it’s possible, this should be prioritised. The presence of an external person can also reduce the “peer pressure” dynamic that can be found amongst work colleagues.
5. If it’s all too much, simply leave. As an addict, I know how difficult it is to navigate social situations. I always feel like I have to explain myself to everyone and go out of my way not disappoint anyone. Over time, I’ve learnt that these traits can endanger me severely. I implore you to put your safety first. If you are feeling unsettled, leave. If the pressure of the work function becomes unbearable, simply go home or somewhere else that is safe. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.
Please note that this list is not exhaustive. If you have any other tips, we’d love it if you shared them with us. The Journey Team trusts that you will have a peaceful and sober December and carry that same energy into the New Year.