Parties and special occasions usually involve games, music and alcoholic beverages. They are times of festivity and fun. For someone concerned about alcohol intake or battling substance abuse, social events may seem threatening. But it is possible to participate in activities that include alcohol.
Get the Facts about Risky Drinking
The first step to understanding your alcohol limits is to know the facts, signs and symptoms about alcohol abuse. The Deployment Health Clinical Center gives examples of alcohol misuse and facts about risky driving:
- Drinking more or for a longer time than you intend
- Continuing to drink even though it makes you feel depressed or anxious
- Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when you don’t drink
- Experiencing interference with daily activities, family, friends and work
- Having to consume more drinks than you once did to get the same effect
Set Your Limits
If you’re not practicing abstinence, but want to be mindful of your drinking behavior, there are ways to set limits. Tracking your daily drink intake may be a helpful way to manage substance use, but can be difficult to practice in social situations. Before going to the party, remember to be S.M.A.R.T:
- Specific. Set a drink type and number limit for yourself. If you decide to drink a beer, ask yourself what type of beer, stick to that brand and style, and don’t go over your limit. Every alcohol beverage has a different alcohol content, which changes your body’s response.
- Measurable. Understand how your body processes alcohol to determine your specific limitations. Look at the standard drink calculator to see how different types of drinks will affect your body.
- Attainable. Is your goal realistic for your lifestyle? Set a goal that you are confident and positive about achieving.
- Relevant. Ask yourself if your goal applies to your current surroundings. If you are at a wine-tasting event, know how much wine is enough for you.
- Time-based. Set a drinking cut-off time and length of time between each drink. Determine how many drinks is a safe number for you.
Choose Your Surroundings
Choosing your surroundings can be the best way to combat pressure. If you are battling substance abuse, consider attending an alcohol-free holiday party or host your own alcohol-free small gathering. Suggest ideas to the host that don’t involve drinking. Fun ideas include:
- Board, card and trivia games
- Dance competitions
- Holiday-themed relays
- Arts and crafts
- Gift exchanges
It’s also OK not to go to a party if you feel it could harm your sobriety. When it’s impossible to avoid functions with alcohol, make sure you have a way to leave if you’re feeling uncomfortable. Share that you’re limiting your drinking or not drinking at all. Purposefully voicing your concerns can help eliminate potential peer pressure to join or overindulge in drinking.
Having a wingman can change the way you see situations. The Real Warriors Campaign gives insight on the importance of an accountability partner. An accountability partner is someone who can help you monitor your efforts and support your goals. Good accountability partners will:
- Offer sympathy and support
- Actively listen to your concerns
- Recognize concerning behaviors
- Assist you with chosen treatment
They also learn about the stressors and emotions you may experience to help you cope with overcoming substance abuse. Invite your accountability partner along with you to your holiday gatherings or let them know where you are going if you know alcohol is there.
Mobile applications, such as Virtual Hope Box, can help you relax and uplift your mood.
You can overcome substance abuse by knowing the facts, sticking to your goals, informing others of your intentions, having good support, and creating a positive environment for long-lasting change.
Looking for help? Make the Connection shares how to get help with alcohol problems and a list of resources to help.