One of my biggest fears was that I would never be able to enjoy social events after renouncing alcohol. It was actually an important argument for me against going into rehab and, while my wife and my parents couldnít see it that way, the monotony of life without a drink of Jack scared me a lot. This, of course, is a fear that all alcoholics have to face, but the good news is that the dullness and boredom will not always be there.
Associating Social Events and Parties with Heavy Drinking††
As an alcoholic, I often made snide comments about the guys who only had a couple of beers at the Christmas party and left home early to be with their family. I simply couldnít wrap my head around the concept that you can enjoy a social gathering without getting completely smashed.
You see, I had made a very strong connection between social interaction and drinking, in part I think because a couple of Jacks really took the edge off and made my deep-seated anxieties fade away. While social anxiety is the initial reason why you abuse alcohol at social events, it later on becomes second nature to you and you canít figure out how you ever partied sober.
You Will be Tempted to Drink
Itís true that in sobriety itís inadvisable to hang out with the people who used to be your drinking buddies and with whom the only real connection was alcohol. However, at the same time, youíre going to be invited to certain occasions like weddings, baby showers, anniversaries, so on and so forth that tend to imply alcohol.
What you need to remember is that you wonít ever be able to enjoy alcohol in moderation Ė this is the trap I fell in more than once Ė and, even though youíll be offered a glass of fine wine, you have to politely decline it. Furthermore, Iíll have to confess that the deep association between celebrations and drinking didnít initially allow me to enjoy myself, as I was harboring a desire to grab a glass and pour myself a drink. Thatís why I never ever stayed for the entire duration of the event.
But Later on in Sobriety…
My crowning achievement Ė in my mind at least†Ė was being able to last through my in-lawsí 25 year marriage anniversary party without the fear of relapsing. I actually managed to conduct myself with grace, made conversation with everyone present, and my wife and I were the last to leave. We even stayed to help tidy up a bit after the party. The realization of what I had accomplished there only hit me on the drive home.
I know itís going to be tough to understand it now, but there will come a time when the association between alcohol and social events will disappear and, when that time comes, youíll know you have achieved something truly remarkable. The important thing is to know your limits and take your leave when triggers are starting to wean your willpower.