Of course the best thing to do in early recovery is to AVOID ANY DRINKING SITUATIONS! Unfortunately, this is not always possible, so here are a few things you can do or say in a tough situation.
For those not completely ready to “come out of the closet” with their recovery….
A slightly sarcastic comment can get the job done without causing awkwardness. I would suggest something slightly self-deprecating. This will get your point across but won’t make you or the other person uncomfortable. Here are some examples: “Are you kidding, you know what happened last time,” “No thank you, I have a bit of a drunk texting problem,” “Nah, I better save some for the rest of you guys.”
Give an excuse
This isn’t the best long term way to handle these situations, but this can work in a pinch. The problem is that many people will continue to pressure you after you give these excuses. Remember that by not drinking you might inadvertently trigger others to feel guilty about their drinking. Look out for people who will say things like “Oh, come on. One drink won’t hurt you.” Have a backup excuse just in case you encounter this type of situation. Some common excuses are: “I can’t, I am driving,” “I am on a medication that doesn’t mix well with alcohol,” or “I have to work in the morning.”
Hold a beverage that looks like an alcoholic beverage
This can be helpful because others assume that you already have a drink and won’t be inclined to offer you drinks. One word of caution though. Holding a glass that is similar to your previous drinking pattern can increase the trigger/craving to drink.
Make a plan to leave the event early
I would suggest that everyone new to recovery do this. It is very high risk to be in a drinking situation when you are new to recovery. I totally respect that you may not be able to get out of every social drinking situation, but it is possible to “get in and get out quickly.” Tell your host and others that you will, unfortunately, need to leave early. When possible, take a friend as a recovery support with you and plan for both of you to leave early.
For those ready to make the commitment
The best plan is almost always to just tell the truth. Letting others know that you are in recovery sends the message that you don’t intend to drink at all. This will hold you accountable, and will help eliminate the need to make excuse after excuse. Eventually, it is hard to keep thinking of excuses. You will be surprised at how many people will respond positively toward your being in recovery.