Helpful Ways to Stay Sober at Parties

Going to parties when you don’t drink alcohol, either because you are trying to change your life and stop drinking alcohol or because you haven’t drunk alcohol before and don’t want some short term alcohol abuse to become a long-term problem, can be a challenging experience. If you have recently had alcohol issues, it may even be worth avoiding parties with alcohol altogether, for the moment, but that might not be realistic in the long-run. 

The good news is that there are plenty of ways you can have fun and comfortably avoiding partaking of alcohol at these parties. Friends who still drink but who are supportive of your decision to become sober can still very much be a part of your support system. It does, however, require an extra measure of caution if you are going to spend time with them. If you are in the process of overcoming alcohol addiction and have friends or family members who drink, here are some tips for staying sober.

Have a Plan in Place

It helps tremendously before attending a party, wedding, or other events to make a plan for how you will avoid temptations and pressures to drink. Decide to arm yourself with a glass of club soda from the very start, for example, and to maintain a comfortable distance between you and the refreshments table. It will also help to leave on the earlier side, before guests who are drinking start to get buzzed. You could even plan specifically to be the designated driver, which will both keep you accountable and put you in a role where no one is going to pressure you to drink.

Be Comfortable Saying No

Some ways of saying ‘no’ to alcohol work better than others. Stating that you never drink, for example, will likely cause others to probe for more answers, asking you why you have taken on such a lifestyle. For some people, they are still developing enough confidence in their sobriety that may be necessary to be comfortable expressing it. Putting it in simpler terms, however, will usually suffice. Simply tell those who ask that you’re not drinking tonight. Perhaps you’re the designated driver or are taking a prescription that interferes with alcohol; he or she won’t know. The key is to find a way to express your sobriety for the night in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

Ask a Friend to Hold You Accountable

Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where you are surrounded by others who are drinking—at a wedding, for example. If you are unsure about your abilities to withstand the pressures to drink, confide in a close friend or family member who is a part of your support system. You could have a friend remain sober with you, or at the very least help to fend off any pressure to drink that might come.

Remember the Purpose of Your Sobriety

It helps to remind ourselves of the many positives to choosing not to drink when you are having a difficult time resisting temptation. It’s important to make this reason specific to you, personally. Maybe you don’t drink because you are trying to improve your general physical wellness and are trying to be healthier. Maybe you don’t drink because you have a history of alcohol abuse and it is critical for your mental well-being that you maintain the sobriety you’ve worked for. Remind yourself of how staying sober will benefit you physically, mentally, and financially, and think about the negative short-term consequences of drinking that you are avoiding simply by not drinking on this particular occasion.

Know Your Limits

It is important to know your limits when it comes to spending time in environments that could tempt you to pick up the drink again. Many recovering addicts who are in the early stages of recovery overestimate their abilities to resist temptations to drink, joining in on drink-centered celebrations and late-night parties. Be diligent about avoiding your triggers, and remember that this is one circumstance in which you don’t want to step outside of your comfort zone.


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