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For a lot of people in early recovery, that first big social event can be tough to get through! Whether it is a wedding, birthday party, dance, or even just a cookout, learning to navigate these functions without drinking or using can be tricky! We as addicts and alcoholics are so used to using outside substances to make us comfortable and social, that doing these things sober can be intimidating in early recovery! However, when you have doubts or fears, refer to the following list of reasons why being “socially sober” is a good thing!

  1. You’ll remember everything! There is no feeling quite like waking up the morning after a big party or family event, and having that unease that comes from remembering NOTHING from the night before. Or worse, hearing “Do you remember what you did last night??”- accompanied either by laughter or a stern look. Not only is there a high likelihood that we embarrassed ourselves or upset someone, but by numbing ourselves with drugs and alcohol, we have missed out on too many special moments. Being sober at social gatherings allows us to be fully present, and to actually create lasting memories we can look back upon without discomfort!
  2. Your family and friends will appreciate it! Nothing upsets people quite like vomiting on their Pinterest-worthy wedding centerpieces, or nodding out in the middle of tame family barbeque. Being sober allows us to be a positive force wherever we go- we can look for opportunities to be helpful at these events, or at the very least be a COHERENT, loving presence that can make these events special and memorable for our loved ones. Grandma doesn’t want to see you passed out in the bushes, or stripping down on the dance floor.
  3. Safe Transportation! (Clue: this means you!) Many of us risked far too much every time we got behind the wheel of a car when we were drunk or high. It is a pleasant revelation when we start attending events and staying sober, that we can be totally confident in our ability to leave when we want, and arrive at our destination safely. We can even do the same for people that are with us that might be drinking! Tired? Overwhelmed? Just kind of feel like going home to Netflix and take-out? That’s cool, because hey- no risk of a DUI!
  4. No Fear of the Red, White, and Blue! No, I don’t mean America. I mean those officers of the law, who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect us (sometimes against ourselves!) It is refreshing when, in early sobriety or recovery, we are taking the right actions and staying in line, that we no longer have to freeze up in fear (our hearts dropping to our stomachs) or run away when we see a police officer out in public, at a DUI checkpoint, or at one of these events. Instead, we can thank them for doing their job, and if we follow their direction, can usually carry on with our nights.
  5. Free refreshments! When we are not drinking alcohol, our bank accounts breathe a sigh of relief when we attend social functions. At most weddings and catered events, while alcohol is usually cash bar (and fairly pricey at that), most nonalcoholic drinks are usually free! (Except energy drinks, but let’s be real, who could even keep up with a recovering alcoholic or addict’s energy drink consumption?) But Diet Coke? Coke? Iced tea? Usually you can have your fill of these for FREE! It’s a win-win: refreshment achieved, without that cringe-worthy bar tab to go back and pay the next day. SO FRESH.
  6. Perspective. Yet another benefit of being sober at social events is a fresh sense of perspective. Specifically, while WE may not be getting totally wasted or high, other people likely still will. Being sober when others are belligerently intoxicated provides us with an interesting point of view- likely one similar to that which our loved ones likely had of us prior to sobriety. It’s like looking into a really annoying, sloppy, disastrous mirror of our past. We can simultaneously be grateful that is not us anymore, and can also keep an eye out for those that look like they might need help or a ride home. Time to pay it forward, kiddos.
  7. Keep your stuff! Now, I have been there MANY, MANY times, and if you are an addict or alcoholic, you probably have too. Picture it: you wake up in the morning after a hard night of partying. You do “the check”- and it occurs to you that you have NO idea where your phone/wallet/bank card/ID/shoes/keys/jacket are. If you are lucky, you will at least have your phone and can call around to the establishments you visited the night before (at least, the ones you remember), to see if they have your stuff. But best case scenario, you still have to navigate around your city on a hungover scavenger hunt for your own belongings. Going to social events sober and staying sober at them means you get to keep your stuff, and won’t risk “donating” it to a less-than-scrupulous catering staff or bartender.
  8. Wake up ALONE in your own bed! Now as a (hopefully) legal adult, you are certainly entitled to whatever overnight guests you choose- no judgment, seriously. The problem for many of us, was that in the height of our drinking or using, we were often so intoxicated that we would wake up in questionable situations- either with some rando in our bed/house, or with some rando in THEIR bed/house. In fact, this behavior often contributed heavily to our low standards and decreased self esteem that we brought with us into sobriety. Waking up refreshed and alone after social functions slowly begins to build our self-worth, and helps us set healthier relationship ideals.

See? We can get so caught up on feeling like we are “missing out” because we can no longer drink or use drugs at social functions, that we forget the benefits to being socially sober. If we continue to work a program of recovery, being around alcohol or drugs will cease to be a problem for us. But in the meantime, feel free to reference this list when you need a quick reminder of the benefits to sobriety at social functions.