One of our members has asked how to deal with a BBQ next weekend. She’ll be there with a large group of friends, there will be stacks of food and drink there and she’s worried about the buckets of iced water containing all the beers that will be littering the garden and the pressure to drink from friends. She’s wondering about how to deal with it.

Here are ten steps to take which will help you:

  1. The first thing to do is to decide whether or not you want to go. It might be a really healthy challenge for you that takes you slightly out of your comfort zone and builds your confidence in dealing with future similar situations. Or, it might be one step too far too soon and you might be too vulnerable to cope with it. Remember that you always have a choice and can come up with any excuse you like as to why you can’t go if you decide you’ll be safer staying away. 
  2. If you decide to go, organise things so that you’re in control of getting yourself there and getting yourself home. It’s easier to be more confident and in control when you know you have an “escape route” if you need it. Being able to leave early, or when you want to, helps you to cope because you know you’re only going to be there for a short time. 
  3. Also, have your “escape route” excuse ready and prepared, so that if anyone asks why you’re leaving early, you can answer them confidently and without feeling self-conscious (actually rehearse saying your excuse out loud). If your escape excuse involves driving – even better – this doubles as the reason why you’re not drinking if you need one.
  4. Decide what reason you’re going to give people if they ask you why you’re not drinking, or, if they’re putting pressure on you to drink. Do this well in advance. You can choose your reason to suit your context and your relationship with these people but here’s a list of some that other people have used: “I have to drive because I promised I’d pop round to … afterwards”; “I’m on medication for a skin infection and the doc has warned me to stay away from alcohol!”;  "I’ve got to be firing on all cylinders in the morning because I have a (meeting/project to organise/children’s party to deal with/appointment) and I need my brain cells intact"; "I’m doing a fitness challenge this month and I have to cut out alcohol as part of my nutrition plan". You get the idea… you can tweak any of these or come up with whatever suits you.
  5. Mentally rehearse using your excuse. Imagine people putting you under pressure and mentally practise saying no and repeating your excuse. Also, mentally rehearse staying sober around those beer buckets. Remember, you don’t have to be there for long… just as long as you want. (You can use the Imagine the Difference activity in Module 1 to help you do this).
  6. Mentally rehearse how you’re going to feel great later in the evening and the next morning. Imagine yourself waking up the next day, hangover free and with no regrets or shame. Imagine what you’re going to do with your day instead of feeling miserable.
  7. Get curious about what experience will be like sober. You already know it’s going to be different but it doesn’t have to be bad different – it can just be different. Focus on what you’re going to gain and how it’s going to help you become more confident and help you create new sober habits that become more and more natural over time.
  8. Set yourself a silly or distracting challenge while you’re there. Like counting all the other people you notice not drinking alcohol. Or spotting all the people who have gone too far with their drinking and who are likely to end up feeling miserable the next day. Or, notice three things you’re grateful for that you wouldn’t have experienced if you were drinking.
  9. When you wake up the next morning feeling great and really pleased with yourself, record it in some way. Find a way of capturing that feeling as it will help motivate you next time.
  10. Share how it went on the Support Forum – celebrating each success you have along the way helps to boost your confidence and helps you to acknowledge your strengths. This contributes to a more loving and kind relationship with yourself which is what helps you to ditch the need for drink in the first place.
If you decide to go, taking these ten steps will ensure that the BBQ is a breeze rather than a burden.

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