When summer rolls along and everyone is getting together to enjoy the weather, it’s common for drinks to make an appearance. If you’ve been doing a good job of not drinking, but you’re anxious about a BBQ coming up, because you’re going to be around alcohol, you’re going to be around people who are drinking, and you’re inevitably going to have to answer to people who are asking you why you aren’t drinking, and maybe even pressuring you to drink.
We wanted to put together some strategies to avoid drinking when you’re at a BBQ or, really, any other type of social gathering for that matter.
What About Just Avoiding It Altogether?
Depending where you are on your journey towards recovery, sometimes it can be healthiest to just avoid the situation altogether. At a certain point, though, you probably don’t want to spend the rest of your life hiding from alcohol, you want to get to a point where you can be around it, interact with people, and be okay.
But when you’re just getting started? It’s understandable if you aren’t ready to jump right into the deep end. A small BBQ with family and kids is one thing, but a big backyard party can be a different story.
Talk To Your Friends
It can help to let people know what you’re dealing with, and what you’re going through. If these are close friends, there’s a good chance they already knew there was a problem. If they’re coworkers or people you aren’t as close with, then you’ll have to decide how comfortalbe you are with opening up about your personal issues.
Your closer friends, if they’re very supportive, might even decide to just take a night off from drinking altogether and have a BBQ without any booze, to make you more comfortable. This is a great group of friends, but not everybody has friends like that, and you can’t necessairly expect the whole world to shift and change for your needs. It’s nice if it happens, but don’t necessairly expect it or count on the fact that everyone else at the gathering will be okay with not drinking.
You Might Not Be The Only One
If you’re dreading showing up because you don’t want to stand out as the only person not drinking, if you’re feeling anxious to have to turn down drinks all night or explain why you aren’t drinking, or if you’re worried you might not have the self-control just remember…
You’re probably not the only person there who isn’t drinking! Whether it’s someone who has overcome an addiction or someone who is still wondering what is alcoholism? Or maybe somebody who just doesn’t feel drinking, is pregnant, or countless other reasons not to drink. See, there are tons of reasons somebody might skip drinking at a gathering, you’re probably thinking about it more than anyone else will be thinking about why you’re not drinking.
Offer To Be The Designated Driver
If you have a vehicle and you drive, you could offer to be the designated driver and tell a friend or two that they can get a ride with you. Make sure you’re comfortable doing this, because people will be counting on you for the ride! Are you positive you can make it through the night without drinking? You can’t put your passengers in danger or leave them stranded, but sometimes, knowing someone is relying on you can be a huge motivating factor.
Bring Your Own Safe Drinks
You can bring your own drinks that don’t have any alcohol, including non-alcohol beers, which you can pour into red solo cups, and it’s very unlikely that anybody will even notice that you’ve decided not to drink.
Or stick to water, sparkling water, soda, or whatever you’d like… Just having a drink in your hand will eliminate about 99% of people offering you a drink, since you already have one. The red solo cup is very useful, since literally nobody will assume you aren’t drinking if you have one, so you can just blend in if you don’t want to address the fact that you’re not drinking alcohol.
Have a Support System
If you can let a few of your friends know what you’re going through, and tell them exactly what you need from them (Don’t offer me drinks, try to step in if anyone is interrogating me about it, and so on…) then they should rise to the occasion to make this event as comfortable for you as possible.
If you’re reading this on behalf of a loved one who struggles with drinking, here’s how you can help an alcoholic who wants help.
Leave a Little Early
Sometimes, a daytime or evening BBQ will transition to more of a party vibe as the evening goes on. By leaving a bit early, before things become more of a party vibe, you can have a nice social time with some friends and then head home for the night, mission accomplished. You can talk to the host of the party about this ahead of time, letting them know that you may have to dip out if you start to feel temptations to drink, and they’ll almost certainly understand and won’t make a big deal about it.
You’re In Charge
At the end of the day, just remember that you’re in charge.
You get to decide how much information you share with anybody, you can say “no thanks” when people offer you drinks, you can enjoy a nice summer day with good people without drinking, even if most of the other people are drinking. They may or may not be able to keep their drinking under control, but you know that you aren’t able to do that, so you just have to make some adjustments in your life.
Learning to have fun, sober, can be a really eye-opening experience. You may discover that you’ve been using alcohol to mask social anxiety, which means you can take steps to work on those anxieties so that you won’t need to mask them with alcohol. This can truly be a great experience to learn more about yourself and to work on yourself, by simply having the strength to attend a BBQ or gathering and not drink.