1. Make sure your out with people that you trust. In my experience this is limited to my family and just a few other select people who I know will notice the slightest of changes in me that act as warning signs.
2. Face away from the bar. I have always found it easier if I cannot see the bar, if it sits in your line of vision all night then you’ll drive yourself crazy. I remember the first night I went out with my parents and Mrs W and I ended up seated with my back to the bar but facing a mirror – which I found myself constantly checking. Today, I have no problem going for a night out but naturally still find some situations a tad uncomfortable.
3. Know what to say beforehand. You won’t always want to draw attention to why you’re not drinking, particularly when introduced to strangers. If you’re going out have an explanation prepared for why you’re not drinking, being honest in this situation is easier said than done and so long as you don’t drink who cares if you tell a fib. I am very open about my drink problems but in the odd situation when I can’t or don’t want to tell people, I generally tell them I have an early start. You’ll find more often than not that the majority of people don’t really care if you drink so long as everyone is having a good time.
4. Don’t be scared to leave. If at any point you’re really struggling, then just leave! The later it gets the more likely it is that people won’t even notice you’ve gone in my experience. My rule of thumb is usually to leave after the first unnecessary hug or declaration of love.
5. Don’t go out!!! If you’re worried don’t force yourself to go out. I have certain coping mechanisms for these situations but I would never ever suggest you go out if you don’t think you can handle it. Showing face will never be as important as your sobriety so don’t do anything you’re not confident you can handle. This is probably the hardest out of the lot for me as historically my head has always told me that people will start wondering where I am. This is nonsense, if it’s a party then Graham Wilson being there isn’t going to have any major impact on the success or failure of the party. Going out is part of life and sobriety shouldn’t change this. I got sober so that I could have a normal life and that includes socialising. I have still not danced sober yet and that’s 4 years now so I’m hoping that changes very soon (couldn’t dance drunk and won’t be able to sober).
If, like I used to, you’re thinking that you can’t have a good night out without getting drunk, then take it from me YOU CAN and to the surprise of many an alcoholic, so can those around you.