By Kathleen C

The holidays are usually a time of parties and dinners with friends, family, co-workers and neighbors. For the last year and a half, our contact with other people has been restricted, in one way or another. Now we want to get together. Because we are sober, we are more likely to be invited. But can we gather safely? Both in terms of the Covid-19 virus and our sobriety?

The Point is not the forum for discussing public health, but it is the perfect place to share how we stay sober in social situations.

The Alcoholics Anonymous-published book, Living Sober, has some practical suggestions:

We don’t worry about people asking why we are not drinking

  1. We might let the host or hostess know we are not drinking. We are not asking for special treatment, but just reassuring them that we are not insulting the quality of their wine when we say no thank you.
  2. We take a sober friend along, or talk beforehand to discuss strategy. We tell them we will call and check in with them afterwards about how the event went for us. Sharing this experience with another alcoholic is good for them as well as for us.
  3. We eat something first. There may or may not be food at the party or, if it is a dinner, the drinking may go on for a long time before the food is served. 
  4. We arrive late and, if we can, we leave early – there will be less time for drinking.
  5. On arrival, we immediately either help ourselves or ask for a non-alcoholic drink, like sparkling water, ginger ale or such. Beware of canned drinks. Some look like innocuous soda, but so-called twisted teas, hard lemonades and hard ciders have a significant alcohol content. We avoid the punch bowl; the mixture may include alcohol.
  6. We watch out for alcohol-flavored holiday foods – a friend, as a joke, once served me a piece of buche de noel, a traditional French Christmas cake – he chuckled as I took a bite and then grimaced. The cake was flavored with cognac. Used to love cognac. In sobriety not so much. 
  7. We don’t worry about people asking why we are not drinking. Hardly anybody pays that much attention to who drinks or not and the people who do can be brushed off.
  8. If they persist with their inquiry, there are many plausible explanations: My personal favorite is “Alcohol doesn’t agree with me.” We can also say we are allergic or are on a medication where alcohol is incompatible.
  9. At a dinner with an array of wineglasses next to our plate, it is appropriate to turn a wineglass upside down and the perceptive waiter will take the glass away. At a wedding or other occasion that involves a toast with champagne in flutes, we can raise our flute along with everyone else. Then if it has champagne in it, we put it back down. If we have filled it with sparkling water or something else non-alcoholic, we can safely drink it. Woo-hoo!
  10. In any social situation, from office party to wedding to dinner party, we look for what we can add to the occasion. At the office party, we thank the host for the invitation and at the wedding we congratulate the groom and tell the bride she is beautiful. At the family or friends’ dinner, we focus our attention on the people we care about the most, and make sure they know how much we care about them.

We take a sober friend along, or talk beforehand to discuss strategy

The end of the old year and the beginning of the New Year is a wonderful time to be with the ones we love and enjoy the gift of sobriety.  Happy Holidays!

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