Sobriety brings many changes to your life, including your idea of what constitutes a fun night out. If your weekends used to be spent partying hard with friends and hitting up your favorite bars, you may be wondering how you can fill your formerly wild Saturday nights or boozy Sunday brunches. Then there are the many social events—parties, holiday gatherings—that you may avoid because you worry they pose too much temptation. Never fear—there is plenty of fun in sobriety if you have the right outlook.
Change Your Perspective
As with many things in life, a positive mentality makes a huge difference. Yes, your concept of fun has changed, but there are still many more ways to enjoy life while sober. In fact, if you change your perspective and broaden your horizons about how to have a good time, you will see it gets easier to adapt to this lifestyle change. And the easier it gets, the more fun you will have because you are discovering new activities, making new friends, and forming new habits.
Because you are sober, you will probably find that your enjoyment level is actually heightened. Without substances to blur your memory and create an unnatural high, you will be clear and present—you can truly live in and savor the moment. Because you are experiencing life on a deeper level, you will feel happier when you do things you enjoy.
This new mindset may take some time to develop, but the best way to build up that positivity is to get out there and have fun. In the beginning, that may seem easier said than done, but there are some strategies that you can use to find fun in sobriety.
If you have a hobby or an interest, now is the time to actively pursue it. If you have an interest in art, attend the new exhibit at your local museum or take a painting class at your local community college or city recreation program. If you loved playing baseball as a kid, join an adult rec softball league. If you used to go out dancing in clubs on weekends, enroll in a dance-oriented workout class at your gym.
Coincidentally, many of these activities will give you the opportunity to meet new people. You can’t always have fun in a vacuum, and on top of that you may be dealing with some loneliness if you have had to cut ties with former friends who were not supportive of your sobriety. Attending events, taking classes, or joining sports leagues can be a wonderful way to meet people with similar interests to yours, giving you common ground to potentially form new friendships. Even a pastime as solitary as reading can be turned into a group activity if you join a book club.
Another great way to meet people is through volunteering. Find a cause you believe in—tutoring underprivileged kids, caring for shelter dogs, cleaning up your local beaches or parks—and you’ll discover that helping others is a joy because you are doing something you love, surrounded by like-minded people.
When it comes to nightlife, you must use your discretion. If you are invited out to a get-together at a bar that you are not ready for, it is OK to say no to any situation that could jeopardize your recovery. If you do accept the invitation, take on the role of the designated driver to help ensure you’ll stay sober for the evening. Alternatively, you could set a time limit for yourself and leave the event after an hour. In any case, make sure to invite a sober friend along who can offer support and encouragement if needed—and because both of you won’t be drinking, you won’t feel alone.
You can also take the lead by planning your own nighttime events. Get friends together for a game night, go out to dinner and a movie with a family member, or plan a potluck dinner party. This allows you to take more control over the event—you can create your own fun.
There are times in life, however, when you may not have as much control over events. Your cousin’s wedding, the office holiday party, the family Memorial Day picnic—these are the kinds of situations where liquor may be flowing freely. If your attendance isn’t required and you feel uncomfortable, it is, of course, OK to skip the event. But if you must put in an appearance you can follow some of the guidelines above, such as planning an early exit, driving your own car, and bringing a sober friend as your plus-one.
You can also make sure that alcohol won’t be an issue for you by offering to bring a non-alcoholic beverage the host or hostess can serve during the party. Some good choices include sparkling water spritzers flavored with fruit juice, a lemonade- or soda-based punch, or holiday treats such as hot chocolate or alcohol-free eggnog. Whatever you are drinking, keep your glass at hand so that there’s no chance of setting it down and accidentally picking up someone else’s liquor-filled tumbler.
It also helps to come prepared to functions like these. That may mean eating a meal and drinking plenty of water beforehand so your stomach is full. It could also entail coming up with responses to people who may ask why you aren’t drinking. A straightforward, “I’m not drinking tonight,” usually works well, or you could say that you are the designated driver for the evening. If the questioning becomes too invasive, simply bow out gracefully. If you think the party could dredge up issues for you, find out in advance where an AA or other support group meeting would be in case you need to go there afterward.
If there are annual get-togethers that could be problematic, such as holiday gatherings with family, create your own traditions. That could mean hosting Easter brunch, or bringing sparkling cider to complement the wine served at Thanksgiving.
Finding the fun in sobriety isn’t as difficult as you may think it is. In fact, the more you try it, the more you’ll discover a whole new world out there waiting for you. To get there, however, requires treatment for substance addiction to get you to that place of recovery. If you need to take that first step towards sobriety, find out how Casa Palmera can help you today.