Doing a Party Sober

Thursday 1 Feb, 2018, 12:00pm by Mrs D 16 comments

Sober parties

I’ve been to quite a few parties as a sober person now and generally I don’t have a problem with them (unless I’m just totally not in the mood or it’s really not my scene). I’ve gotten pretty good at working inside my brain to lift my mood so that I can have a good time – sometimes even a great time!

Here are my top ten tips for doing a party sober;

1) DON’T LISTEN TO YOUR UNHELPFUL THOUGHTS BEFOREHAND.

If, before the event, your brain forms unhelpful thoughts such as “everyone is going to think I’m boring for not drinking” or “I’m going to have no fun without wine” or “being sober at a party is hell on earth” do not let those thoughts rest and take root. Banish them from your mind quick smart. These thoughts are not facts, they are unhelpful little energy puffs your mind is creating out of paranoia and fear.  Push them out. Literally do this. Push the thoughts from your mind and do not let them fester and grow. Think about politics instead. Or grass growing. Or bananas. Anything but paranoid, miserable thoughts about you being a boring sober loser at a party.

2) MAKE A MENTAL LIST OF WHAT THIS PARTY IS ABOUT.

Us sober people tend to build a party up in our minds as being all about the booze. This is stupid.  A party is about many things outside of what sort of liquid is in our glasses. I find it incredibly helpful to concentrate hard on what those other things are. I make a mental list in my mind, literally bullet points of 3-4 things specific to this event. E.g. “this party is about old friends getting together” or “this party is about my husband’s colleagues celebrating a hard year of work” or “this party is about neighbours getting to know each other” or “this party is about all the yummy food/the fact we’re not at work/my sister’s birthday/John’s promotion/summer arriving/a new fence”. Parties are always about humans coming together for a reason and if you look for the reason(s) you can shift the focus away from what liquid is in your glass. If you can’t find 3-4 good reasons then you need to go shopping to create one or two!! (Nothing like “this party is about my new outfit/shoes/haircut” to lift your pre-party mood!).

3) PICTURE THE DRUNK VERSION OF THIS PARTY.

If I’m really struggling to find the positives in an upcoming party or event (because I’m not in the mood or it’s not a lovely, warm crowd for me) I imagine myself at this event boozing up a storm, getting loose lipped and slurry, being drunk, disconnected, and sloppy. I don’t kid myself that boozy me is a better quality of party girl. She’s not. Even if I’m not in the mood and don’t dig the company at least I can count on myself to hold myself together and be respectable and appropriate. A boring party is going to be a boring party whether I’m drinking or not.

4) TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIQUIDS.

Be prepared with what you want to drink. Take alcohol-free wine or beer if that is your thing to help you through (it’s not mine but it works for some). Take a couple of bottles of fancy fizzy water. Take pre-cut limes or lemons. Take a mocktail mix. Hell, take your own teabags if you feel like it!! (I did that recently and my midnight mug of ‘Hot Cinnamon Sunset Black Tea with Cinnamon, Orange and Sweet Cloves ” was coveted by other party goers!)

5) VISUALISE WHEN IT’S OVER.

I love getting my bed ready to fall into after a party. I pull the covers back and have my jammies laid out ready to put on. Sometimes I’ll just look at my pillow before we head out the door and visualise myself laying my head on it in a few hours time. I love knowing how good I’m going to feel when the night is done and I’m snuggled up warm and clear-headed. There is nothing like the sweet bliss of falling into bed sober at the end of a party … and there is NOTHING like the sweet, sweet feeling of waking up with no hangover the next day. No sick guts or headache or guilt – that never gets old.

6) THINK ABOUT ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE IN THE ROOM.

Everyone else at the party has arrived full of their own insecurities, hang-ups, hopes, and fears. I always like to look around and imagine what’s going on for the other people there. Who would rather not be there? Who had a fight with their partner just before arriving? Who is socially awkward and nervous? Who is over-excited and jittery? Who is hoping they don’t drink too much and blackout again? Who is feeling really happy to be out with their friends? Who is loving being away from their kids for the night? Shifting the focus away from me always helps calm me down.

7) ACT IN PARTY MODE!

Slap on a smile and get chatty! I know this is easier said than done sometimes .. but if you can act like a party person you might find you are a party person! At least try it at the very start of the night when you first walk in and get settled with a drink etc. After a while you might find you can drop the act and relax into a more chilled out chatty mode with someone interested in a real conversation. Or you can just go quiet and float around the edges watching other people get drunk (always a fun pastime).

8) PLAN YOUR EXIT STRATEGY.

Give yourself permission to leave whenever you feel like it and know that even if it’s after just 1 hour that’s ok. Make sure you’re able to  get away as soon as you feel like it. Warn the host that you might not stay long – they should appreciate the fact that you’ve made the effort to show up at all. Be ok paying for a taxi. If you are taking your own car warn any passengers that came with you that you might be leaving early. Don’t let anyone hassle you into staying longer than you want. Prepare your exit line; “I’ve got to work tomorrow” or “I need to get back to my cat” works a treat (“You’re smelly and repeating yourself” might not go down so well!)

9) CHECK IN WITH YOUR TRIBE

Tell the community here at Living Sober about the party and how you’re feeling beforehand. Tell us your plans, and report back afterwards. We’re your cheering squad and will be (virtually) with you all the way.

And finally (and most importantly)…remember….

10) THERE’S NO SHAME IN NOT GOING AT ALL.

If you simply can’t banish the fearful thoughts from your mind beforehand , if you’re struggling to form a mental list of what this party is about (that doesn’t involve alcohol), if the imaginary drunk version of the party doesn’t make you feel better, if you don’t want to think about what’s going on for everyone else, if you can’t be bothered planning your alcohol-free beverages or exit strategy, if you can’t bear the thought of acting in a party mood, and even if the thought of falling into bed sober doesn’t help get you there.. then don’t go. Don’t go! Make your apologies and stay home. There is no shame in that. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again – and other people do it all the time as well. Stay home, protect your sober self, snuggle up on the sofa with your energy conserved, your self-care bubble intact, and your contentment levels high. Do not feel bad, feel normal. Everyone pikes out of parties sometimes. That doesn’t make you a boring sober loser – far from it. It makes you smart for knowing yourself and brave for putting your needs first at a time that was necessary. Bravo…

16 comments

  1. You don’t need to go there terrified that you’re going to have to talk to people and be entertaining. You don’t have to be the entertainment, and you don’t actually have to talk much at all… you can spend most of your time listening. What people most want to talk about is themselves… so use that. Ask the people that you are with a question about themselves. The occasion you’re at has a purpose… often a celebration of some sort. Ask the people you find yourself with what their relation to that purpose is. Follow the conversation wherever it goes, and whenever you say something, end it with a question. Remember, they want to talk about themselves. You don’t need to fill the evening with your own words, they will do it for you.

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  2. 7 Tips to Throw a Party and Stay Sober When You're in Addiction Recovery - ADrugRehab.org - Drug Rehab & Addiction Treatment Tools for Recovery says:

    […] LivingSober.org offers 10 useful tips to help you stay sober and in control while partying. […]

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  3. I agree with so much above.I didn’t realize i was an introvert until I stopped drinking. It’s ok not to be the loudest person in the room it’s ok not to be seen as the life and soul of the party,whatever that is.
    The most helpful thing I learned was , you can leave whenever you want. And guess what? they won’t even notice you trapdoor-ed (sneak out without long goodbyes) anyway. And my does it feel good to leave early and drive home in your own car at a reasonable time .maybe even read a bit in bed when I get home, bliss.

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  4. Getting sober revealed to me how much of an introvert I am, and how much my upbringing tried to knock that out of me, labelling me “anti-social” “unnatural” “poor sport” when really I was just a quiet observant person. So even now I often skip straight to Mrs D’s #10 and opt out of parties, especially large ones. I feel fine doing that. I much prefer to spend time with people alone or in small groups. And YAY, that AOK.

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  5. Mrs D – Thanks for your blog and inspiration. I love reading your strategies and experiences. You have created a lovely community of supportive like minded souls. Thankyou x

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  6. Thanks so much I’m 4 months sober and loving my life and the better me. I find all yr posts so helpful. I love waking up without that dreaded feeling as I have very loose lips that used to get me into all sorts of trouble. My self loathing is gone and I’m loving myself again. So are all my loved ones I know I’ve been an inspiration to others as well. I will keep using all yr tips. Thank you.

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  7. I found that excellent especially #10. I have been sober 6 years in April and live with a fairly heavy drinker. I’m ok with it most the time but I do pick the occasions I choose to go out with him too. I’m fairly comfortable with a meal out to a restaurant where only a few wines are consumed but I don’t go to loud boozy parties and clubs but on Saturday night I did go to a pub with a very loud band, it was packed and we were all standing around bar Leander’s with drunk people and glasses of wine and beer everywhere. For some reason I really struggled, I felt anxious, uncomfortable, shitty and bored. Not like I wanted to pick up, just p….sed off! I should have gone home earlier, like I usually do, but I waited until I was in a bit of a state and cried all the way home! This has t happened to me before so I’m not sure why now. I could have stayed home and let the others go but I actually wanted to go out and dance the night away but I was miserable
    So I love all your posts

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  8. Love. Love. Love #5!!!! I’m with @Lucy on this one! I love my bed. I love my bedroom. I love my jammies. And I love my sleep. Never quite thought of this as a strategic sober tool before. I will definitely undress my bed and lay my jammies out next time I need this tool. Thanks so much for sharing!!!!!

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  9. Thank you so much for this. I am only 5 days in but preparation seems to be so important and March is going to a party month for me so having this list firmly In my mind will help hugely

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  10. I was just saying to my partner that I was having worries that I might want to drink at the dinner party we’re hosting on Saturday night, I then mentioned that one of my coping strategies is to visit my favorite website for inspiration and strength. I believe you wrote this for me, Mrs D., just when I needed it most!

    We will have both non-drinkers and drinkers at the party and I will stay by the non-drinkers if needed. I will also keep in mind your 10 points from this post. You will be at my party in spirit, Mrs. D., I will picture you giving me supportive reminders about this journey I started 211 days ago.

    Thank you for the wonderful work you do.

    Chris
    Michigan, USA

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  11. Love all of this Mrs D… especially visualising getting into bed sober.. every morning I look at my lovely big bed and pillows .. then run my mind on to the evening when I’m climbing in sober… My god I could never remember getting in it when I was drinking… My sleep now is deep and much more relaxing and waking up with a clear head, feeling so good. Not a complete wreck and dragging my way through the day feeling like crap. Number 10 is so true… I made myself go for a meal with friends last Friday .. was a nervous wreck and couldn’t wait to get home… will now not go any where if I don’t need to… recovery comes first. xxxxx

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  12. Thanks for the post. It’s very timely for me. I am 24 days AF and have a HUGE test coming up next week. I live in New Orleans and have guests coming to stay for Mardi Gras next week. These are friends that I have partied with for many years. #10 is not an option so I am going to have to do some serious work re-wiring my brain.

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  13. Thanks for this — have a party (across the street. Ack!) tomorrow night, and it’s a very small gathering. IF I go it will be hard to slip in and slip out early, but she is a sweet person and will understand if I suddenly can’t make it. I will re-read this a few times before I decide to go :)

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