Photo by Alondra Olivas on Unsplash

If you are newly sober, or giving alcohol a break, the upcoming holiday weekend can bring on anxiety. How will you party sober? How will you turn down a drink? 

I understand these fears. In fact, I was sober for months and feeling good until I found myself completely unprepared for a Fourth of July Booze Fest. 

By 10 am I had mimosa in hand and by the time the fireworks started I was a disappointment to everyone including myself. 

You can learn from my failure. Here’s my best tips for thriving an alcohol free holiday weekend! 

1 – Plan to succeed or prepare to fail

You cannot go into a party with a “wait and see” attitude. If you think maybe you’ll have a drink, you are guaranteed to have a drink. As a drinker, our brain is wired for it. Our default mode is set to alcohol. You have to go into the weekend with a sober mindset. You can tell yourself “I am not drinking today.” You don’t have to commit to not drinking forever, but you can keep your commitment for a weekend, a week, a month, or whatever you have challenged yourself to day. 

2- Play the tape forward

You have tried drinking, and you know how that plays out. For me, drinking resulted in regret, hangovers, and disappointment. It might not be easy to turn down drinks at the BBQ, but think about how good you will feel sipping your morning coffee or getting up for a run the next day.

Playing the tape forward is a great way to get you through a craving when you are surrounded by triggers. Think about the negative outcomes you may have already experienced from drinking too much, and how you are avoiding them by staying alcohol free. 

3- Drink Up

No alcohol doesn’t mean no partying. You can laugh, dance, and enjoy all the festivities. I have found I have more fun, more intimate connections, and more freedom from not drinking. You can even treat yourself to a special drink. You still drink, you just don’t drink alcohol. These days the options for alcohol free spirits are growing rapidly. I have had nonalcoholic beers, wine, gin, and more. You do not have to stick to water. Bring your own beverage. Add a garnish. Splurge on something fancy. Put it in a pretty glass. No alcohol is extra reason to please all your senses with a gorgeous and delicious treat. If it is your first sober weekend, you don’t have to put any pressure on yourself to be the most sober, fun person either. There will be other weekends, other boat rides, and other BBQ’s. Just stay in tune with your own feelings, and have a fun treat to look forward to. Even ice cream or a popsicle can serve as a sober treat.   

4 – No thanks

How do you turn down a drink when everyone is drinking? It may feel impossible, but there are so many ways to do this. You can bring your own, as mentioned above. You can say you’ll start with water or help yourself. You do not have to tell anyone your whole relationship with alcohol. It’s not their business. Not drinking doesn’t mean you have a problem with drinking. Not drinking means you are making a healthy choice for yourself. 30% of the population doesn’t drink for a variety of reasons. Recovery is only one of them. In my experience, when people notice that I am not drinking, they envy me and are trying to cut down themselves. You can say you’re taking a break, have an early morning, training for a run, not drinking right now, on a detox challenge, driving, or just a simple no thanks. You don’t have to get in your head about it. If drinking is required you might just want to skip the event this time. Typically nobody cares as much as you think they do. For more ways to say no to a drink offer check out my blog 23 Ways to Turn Down a Drink

5-The Vanishing Act

This genius idea came from a book,  The Sober Lush. I love a good sneak out. When you are done or you have had your fill you can leave. You don’t have to announce it. You don’t have to say goodbye. You can just walk out whenever you are ready. That is the best part of being sober. Nobody notices. You can always follow up with a text or call the next day, if you feel it’s necessary. You can say you had to take the dog out, or use any excuse you want. Or you can use no excuse at all. No reason. Just leave. That is you taking care of yourself and that is what ditching the drink is all about anyway. You have permission to just up and go when you are ready. This can be 5 minutes or 5 hours into  any gathering. When you are not having fun, just go. 

The 5 Tips will help you relax and have a Happy Alcohol Free Fourth of July Weekend!