Sometimes, staying sober – or supporting someone else’s sobriety – requires a bit of preplanning. People in recovery are told to stay away from situations where alcohol and other intoxicants are present, because such events might trigger a relapse. So what do you do when you are hosting an event where alcohol is traditionally served – a party, for example? One of the first things that people in recovery are taught is to never let themselves get “too lonely, too hungry, or two bored”. Here’s your chance to combat all three. Here are some tips that will let you and your friends have fun without jeopardizing anyone’s efforts at recovery:
Make Sure That the Invitations Are Clear
The best way to avoid any potential problems is to set the ground rules early, whether the invitations are written and mailed, texted, or send in a tweet. Let people clearly know that you are hosting a “Sober Party” and that BYOB is definitely not an option. Prepare yourself for some decline invitations – if you have friends who are in recovery, some of them may not yet feel comfortable in a party setting. Respect their choices. At the same time, you will have some friends who drink who think that it just isn’t a party without booze. Respect their choices as well, but prove them wrong.
Have a Party Earlier in the Day
Change expectations by throwing your party earlier in the day. People sometimes feel almost obligated to drink at a nighttime party, but that expectation is greatly lessened during a daytime get-together. Need convincing that people drink less during the daytime? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than a third of all nighttime fatal automobile crashes involve impaired driving. During the daytime, only 8% of fatal crashes involve drunk driving.
Change the Environment
Who says you have to throw a party at your own house? Maybe your home serves as a trigger for you or your friends in recovery, because that’s where you all used to drink together. Remove the association by having the party somewhere else – the beach or a nearby park, for example. This has several unexpected benefits:
- Built-in activities – swimming, hiking, outdoor games, barbecuing
- Nature can serve as decorations – joy the fresh air, the sunshine, and later – the sunset
- If your party extends into the night, you can build a campfire
- If you or your guests have children, they can run around and play
Make Sure That There Are Plenty of Non-Alcoholic Choices
This is key – people associate parties with refreshments, so make sure that they have plenty to choose from, including:
- A variety of colors and other sodas, both regular and diet
- Bottled and flavored waters
- Exotic teas and coffees
- Several juices
The more color and variety you have, the more festive the atmosphere will seem. One note – don’t offer any non-alcoholic beers or sparkling ciders or prepare any virgin “mocktails”. They are way too close to the real thing. Even the illusion of alcohol can trigger a relapse.
Concentrate on the Food
This is where you will have a chance to really shine – knock their socks off and take the focus away from drinks with plenty of tasty food choices.
- Finger foods—tapas, hot wings, sliders, mini tacos, etc.
- Snacks– chips, pretzels, nuts, trail mix, a meat and cheese tray, etc.
- Vegan/vegetarian options – fresh fruit and vegetable sticks
- Make it easy on yourself – throw a potluck party where everyone brings their favorite dish
There are three things to remember about hosting a party where people in recovery will be in attendance. FIRST, early in recovery, it is easy to mistake hunger pangs for alcohol/drug cravings –eliminate that risk by keeping your guests well-fed. SECOND, many people who have recently returned to a sober lifestyle make a conscious effort to eat healthier. Make sure that their choices are represented, as well. THIRD, DON’T cook with alcohol. Even trace amounts or aromas can trigger cravings.
Be Ready with Fun Activities
No matter what people may say, you don’t need to serve alcohol to have fun. If you want your guests to enjoy themselves, all you need is a little creativity and imagination:
- Party games –team up and play Twister, Pictionary, Outburst, dominos, etc.
- Outdoor games – horseshoes, volleyball, flashlight tag
- Dancing – create your own upbeat playlist or go “old-school” and put on some vinyl records
- Involve the kids – if children are at your party, include activities for them
Don’t Make Not Drinking a Big Deal
This is the biggest key to hosting a Sober Party– don’t make the lack of alcohol the focus of the celebration. After all, you and your guests come together to enjoy each other’s company, not just to get drunk. In fact, with enough planning, you can throw such a successful party that the lack of alcohol will never even come up. How to live a normal-yet-alcohol-free lifestyle is just one of the lessons you will learn at Northpoint Recovery – the premier inpatient drug and alcohol rehab program in the Pacific Northwest. Northpoint Recovery has the best staff-to-patient ratio in the entire region, ensuring that you get the personal attention and support you need as you continue on your sober journey in a safe, monitored residential environment. If you’re struggling with a substance use disorder, make the call today to restore sanity and stability to your life.