Staying Sober when Friends and Colleagues Drink

After checking out of any residential rehab centres for alcoholics, those lucky enough to have strong and robust support circles always stand the best possible chance of avoiding relapse. The most helpful and positive people there are around you, the better your chances of once again rebuilding your life and looking forward to a bright future.

Unfortunately, one of the downsides that goes hand in hand with having a large support circle to stand by you is that of the inevitability of being placed in various social situations and events. From weddings to birthday parties to work event and more, it seems there’s always something going on pretty much every day/night of the year. And of course, the fact that keeping busy, remaining positive and surrounding yourself with positive people represents a crucially important element in the recovery process means that avoiding all such social situations isn’t necessarily beneficial.


Which is all well and good – aside from the fact that pretty much everyone in attendance may be hell-bent on drinking…and quite heavily. Which begs the all-important question – how can a recovering alcoholic resist temptation when largely everyone around them insists on drinking?

Well, the simple fact of the matter is that if they really do care about you and your recovery, they will not, or at least should not, be rubbing alcohol in your face. And if they do, they aren’t really your friends. But in instances where you really cannot get out of things, there are various ways and means by which you can assist your sobriety efforts enormously – most of which revolve around common sense and logic.

Plan Ahead

For example, forward planning is crucially important as if you arrive somewhat dazed, confused and generally terrified about what’s to come, the whole thing will become unbearable. Think in advance about the exact time you intend to arrive and leave, who you intend to talk to and so on and so forth. And try to keep telling yourself that the moment it becomes obvious most of the revelers are heading for tipsiness, that’s your time to slip away.

Learn How to Say No

Something of crucial importance for the recovering alcoholic is learning how to say ‘no’ in a manner that gets the point across immediately, firmly and comprehensively. The simple fact of the matter is that to give the impression that you are in any way tempted by a drink is to give those around you all the motivation in the world to both try and persuade you and keep asking you. By contrast, if you were to look the individual offering you a drink squarely in the eye and say “absolutely not” in a polite, yet firm tone, chances are they would be unlikely to offer you another drink during the event.

Beware Triggers

There will always be certain triggers that significantly increase the likelihood of any given recovering alcoholic facing a relapse. For example, you may have been considerably more inclined to reach for a beer while treating yourself to a few cigarettes over the weekend. Likewise, the concept of watching a Premier League Football match without a beer in your hand may be borderline alien to you. This is something to be very much aware of when attending social events as while being in the presence of so many people drinking can be challenging enough, there are plenty of triggers out there that can make things even harder.

Pick a Partner

If you have a spouse, friend, family member or colleague willing to do so, partnering up with a person happy to stay sober with you can be pure gold to say the least. Chances are there will be plenty of people with such a vested interest in your recovery to choose from, for whom the idea of staying away from alcohol for just one evening won’t exactly represent the end of the world.  With this kind of support, you are much less likely to stray.

Offer to Drive

Last but not least, if there’s one tactic that has a strong tendency to work for most people…or at least those with a modicum of common sense…it’s that of offering to be the designated driver. The simple fact of the matter is that if you are aware of the fact that you have to drive yourself and any number of other people home later on, the temptation to drink will practically disappear and it’s not as if those around you will be encouraging you to drink either. Of course there will always be moronic exceptions to the rule, but to be perfectly frank these are the kinds of people you really should not be considering as friends.