September is quickly approaching, and with it plans for backyard barbecues, picnics, or one last beach day to mark the end of the season. Labor Day is a great time to gather with family or friends, socialize, and enjoy the last of the summer weather. This holiday weekend can pose a challenge for people in recovery, however. How does one get through Labor Day without having that “one beer”—or several?
This can be especially tricky if you’ve only recently quit or cut back on drinking. Nobody wants to avoid fun social events just to avoid alcohol. But is joining one of these get-togethers going to be too big of a drinking trigger?
Here are some tips for staying sober on Labor Day—and still having fun.
1. Be Open About Not Drinking
Whether you’ve quit completely, or you just want to cut back, it’s easy to be shy about telling other people. You may want to simply blend in, and avoid having to talk about your sobriety all evening. To some extent, this can be wise. But consider at least telling the host, and a few others you trust, that you want to have a sober Labor Day. You may be surprised how supportive people can be.
2. Find a Sober Friend or Ally
For many, Labor Day is about socializing, and joining in with a group of people we care about. Having trusted friends who are also sober, or willing to support you in not drinking, can make all the difference. Consider asking someone to hold you accountable, or simply find a few others who also want to drink less to hang out with during the event.
3. Choose Events with Less Pressure to Drink
Consider the context, and the people involved. Is the setting alcohol-oriented, or in a place that might trigger you to drink? Are the other people attending heavy drinkers, or people who might pressure you to consume alcohol? If you have more than one option for where you spend Labor Day, look for social groups and situations where you think it will be easier to control your urges, and find support. There may even be sober events near you.
4. Bring Your Own Beverages
Sometimes, simply having a drink in your hand is enough. Bring along a six-pack of a soda you like, or investigate non-alcoholic beer options. You might even create a pre-mixed mocktail, or offer to build out a small sober bar for yourself and others who are avoiding alcohol. Get creative!
5. Create Your Own Event!
If you aren’t seeing any good options for having a sober Labor Day, and there’s enough time, consider putting together your own party! Invite people to grill, gather in the park, or head to the beach. Choose people who are sober, or not interested in drinking heavily. And once again, be open about limiting your drinking.
6. Be OK With Prioritizing Your Recovery
You made the right decision to cut back or quit. Prioritize being at peace with this. Be ready to walk away from situations that seem too risky, even if it means leaving the party early. Keep your priorities clear, and don’t beat yourself up over it. It can be disappointing, but it will eventually get easier. If you need to, spend some time reminding yourself why you made a change. Remember: It’s all worth it.
Read More: Keeping Party Drinking Under Control
Sober Labor Day During COVID-19
Of course, much of this changes if you’re in quarantine, or partial lockdown during Labor Day. We’re all dealing with different limitations right now. Perhaps you can still safely have a few friends over, cook some delicious food, and keep a safe social distance. But if you can’t, and you need to shelter in place, there are still ways to enjoy the labor day festivities.
Find a group of friends or family members who want to hang out, and have a virtual get-together. Try having a barbecue competition: share a recipe, and see who can execute it the best in their own home. Eat, enjoy mocktails, and choose a game to play over Zoom. It may seem less fun than the real thing, but seeing friends still makes a big difference. And the upside may be less pressure to drink!
Help with Sober Socializing
Large social events can be difficult for many people in recovery, especially early on. Once you’ve quit, alcohol can seem like it’s everywhere. It’s important to develop long-term strategies for navigating these situations safely.
One strong solution is TSM, or the Sinclair Method. This strategy uses targeted doses of the drug naltrexone to reduce the pleasurable effects of alcohol. Over time, many people find that they lose interest in drinking. If taken as part of a program, naltrexone can also help you avoid relapse if you want to have a beer or two at a large gathering.
Ria Health is one online program that makes TSM, and other methods, accessible from anywhere. Through our convenient smartphone app, you can meet with recovery coaches, join virtual support groups, and get expert medical support to quit or cut back from home. Learn more about how it works, or speak with a member of our team today.