So, I've never really cared much for professional football, but in my drinking days I sure did enjoy a good Superbowl party. I guess, if we're being honest, I liked just about any opportunity to drink. In early sobriety I recall struggling quite a bit with the whole idea of attending parties of any kind knowing that alcohol would be freely flowing. I had the experience of attending a number of parties in early sobriety and being absolutely miserable. I was acutely aware of the number of drinks particular guests were drinking and I was so fixated on the alcohol that I wasn't able to enjoy the company of the people who were in attendance. I very quickly learned that I needed to put some strategies in place if I was going to be able to go to parties and other social functions where alcohol was being served and enjoy myself. Here are the things that really helped me!
1. Check your Motivation
It is important to be really honest with yourself about why you want to attend an event. Are you going to test yourself? This is probably not a good plan. Testing your conviction, especially in early recovery, is more than likely a set up for disaster. Are you going to prove something to other people? If so, not necessary. You don't have to prove anything to anyone. Are you going so that you can connect with people and enjoy some social interaction? This is a great reason to attend an event. If this is your reason then following the next steps could be very helpful.
2. Have a Plan
It is very helpful to think through the entirety of the event and make a plan. I would recommend writing down your plan and talking through it with a support person. Your plan should include the following items.
In early recovery it is very important to identify your triggers and to plan for how you will handle them when they arise. (They will arise and probably when you least expect it). Be prepared!
4. Book End your Event
To book end your event you will want to engage a support person (this could be your sponsor or a close friend or family member who will not be attending the event). Let this person know details about the event in advance. Discuss any concerns or fears you may have about the event and your sobriety with this person prior to the event. Your job is to connect with this person prior to leaving for the event as well as when you arrive home from the event (book ends). This person can also be available by phone during the event if you find yourself struggling. This will help you to feel supported as you navigate this new experience.
5. Party Partner
Make sure that you have a person who will be attending the party who is supportive of your sobriety. Ask this person if they will give you support if needed while you are at the party. This could be a sober friend or loved one.
6. Have an Exit Plan
Make a plan for exiting the event if you feel uncomfortable. Make an agreement with your party partner that if you get into an uncomfortable position you will let them know before leaving. Ask them if they would be willing to explain your absence in the event people ask where you went. Do not hesitate to leave the event if you feel that your sobriety is in jeopardy.
7. DON'T FEEL OBLIGATED TO ATTEND!
You need to protect yourself and your sobriety, especially early on in recovery. It is okay for you to take whatever time you need in order to be comfortable. If you don't feel ready, just don't attend. Anyone who knows that you are in recovery will definitely understand.
I'm hopeful that these strategies will help you as much as they have helped me. Above all else, be prepared, and have a great Superbowl Sunday!!!