The summer and early fall months are prime wedding seasons. For a person with a substance use disorder, it can also be a difficult time. While you may want to support your family and friends during these life-changing moments, you also have to take into consideration your sobriety. How do you celebrate your loved ones without putting yourself at risk?
When the Wedding Isn’t Dry – How to Manage Your Sobriety
Many weddings serve alcohol to their guests. In some cases, it’s expected. If you are in recovery, being around alcohol may not be safe for you and may lead to a heightened level of anxiety and a higher risk of relapse. What can you do when this happens?
Take a Close Friend with You
Don’t go to the wedding alone. Bring someone with you who understands your addiction and all of the hard work you’ve put into your recovery. That person can serve as your support system during any difficult moments you have.
Be sure to talk to this person about what your concerns are about the wedding. Discuss what they can do to help in certain moments. For example:
- If they see you struggling or becoming anxious, they can help you leave the area.
- They may help steer people away from asking if you want a drink simply by saying that neither of you are drinking tonight.
- Your guest may also be able to help you leave when things get too rough.
Be honest with yourself and others. If you need to leave, do so.
Recognize That You Can Just Say No
You do not have to tell anyone at the wedding why you are not drinking. Just say you don’t drink or that you’re no longer drinking. If they pry, simply tell them it’s a personal decision. Change the subject.
If a lot of people know that you are in recovery, don’t feel as though you have to explain yourself to them. They don’t have to stop drinking in front of you, but you also don’t have to be around people who put you at risk.
Carry a Non-Alcoholic Drink
Some non-alcoholic drinks look just like alcohol. Holding a glass with a non-alcoholic drink while you socialize could prevent people from offering you alcohol. However, holding that glass could also bring back memories and feelings of what it was like to use substances. If that’s the case, avoid it. Be sure you are always focusing on what makes you feel at ease.
Dance the Night Away
If you don’t want to spend the whole wedding walking around and talking to people who are drinking, then find another way to celebrate. Spend the night dancing with friends. You can still find ways to enjoy the experience without having to think about what other people are doing.
Visit a Meeting Prior to the Wedding
Sometimes when a person is feeling anxious about alcohol exposure prior to a wedding or other event, it’s because they are already feeling tempted or remembering similar events in the past. If you find yourself in that position, set up a counseling session before the event.
A visit to a local meeting or a long talk with your mentor or therapist may provide you with the tools you need to feel more confident. Discuss things like:
- How much you talk about drinking
- How much you think and worry about drinking
- How you feel uneasy about the wedding but aren’t sure why
- Your worries about who will be at the wedding and what they may think of you
- Your fears that you won’t be able to resist the urge to drink
In situations where you really feel at risk or you do not feel comfortable because of someone else who will attend, don’t go. Celebrate your friends’ wedding in a different way. Ask to take them to dinner. Send a loving message.
Your sobriety is one of the most important parts of your health and well-being. You do not want to put that at risk. Your friends will understand this and support you.
Are You Feeling at Risk?
If thinking about alcohol use is making you anxious, that could be a sign to discuss your health and thought patterns with a therapist. At The Ranch at Dove Tree in Lubbock, TX, we offer outpatient treatment, including relapse prevention and aftercare support. Don’t put yourself at risk. Seek out help from our team now before you reach for a glass.