We all know weddings should be fun — not a reason for concern. However, when you’ve just started on the road to recovery, or you’ve been taking steps to stay sober for a while, a wedding may be just the thing to derail your hard work and effort. Whether it’s at the open bar, after-party, cocktail hour or during a toast, you’re going to have to face the fact that alcohol will be present at one time or another.
We want you to stay on track around friends and family. That’s why we’ve put together some tips to help you stay sober and happy:
- Always have a (non-alcoholic) drink in your hand: Keep a non-alcoholic drink in your hand at all times during the wedding reception. No — it’s not so you can lie. Well, sort of. Who wants to explain themselves anyway? You don’t owe anyone an explanation. And with this method, you won’t have to. If someone asks if you’d like a drink, hold up your non-alcoholic drink and say you already have one. Tonic water with lemon usually does the trick.
- Make a promise to yourself: Before setting foot in the wedding reception, you need to vow (no pun intended) that you will not drink. If you have the idea that you “might” drink, or go into the wedding thinking you’ll just gauge how you feel when you get there, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Sobriety is largely a mind game, so you need to get square on your intentions before anything else.
- Plan what you’ll say ahead of time: You can get creative with this one. Planning exactly what you’ll do and say if offered a drink is one of the best ways to prevent a relapse. You can also get other ideas from people who’ve been in this position.
- Know you can’t numb emotion: Emotions are a natural part of life and everyone feels them. You wouldn’t be able to feel joy or gratitude if you didn’t experience the lows too. Plus, isn’t it a great feeling when you realize you can have fun without alcohol? That you can laugh and feel total happiness without your brain chemicals being altered in any way? Try to focus on your friends and family for the day and reward yourself for all your hard efforts afterward.
- Stay social: This one should be obvious. You’re at the wedding to support your friends, family and loved ones, right? Distract yourself with hugging the bride, dancing, and searching out the pregnant women who can’t drink so you can celebrate and support each other.
If all else fails, come up with an exit plan. If you’ve tried the above tips and still find yourself feeling uncomfortable at the wedding reception, it’s perfectly okay to remove yourself from the situation. Make sure you have a ride and a place to stay before the wedding so you can rest assured that a backup plan is there.
And always remember that we’re here to help. Contact Gateway Foundation to receive care if you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction.