New Year’s Eve Work Parties for the Newly Sober

Most businesses and corporations host end of the year parties for their staff as a way to thank them for their service and contributions to the success of the enterprise. These parties are usually catered, complete with a fully stocked bar to encourage employees to let their hair down and celebrate another successful year. For those of us new in recovery, this could be a stressful and triggering environment as we are surrounded by friends and coworkers enjoying a drink with impunity. How can we enjoy ourselves at these work functions while maintaining our sobriety?

First, try to keep in mind one of the lessons of 12-step recovery: the world does not revolve around you! Your coworkers are not watching your every move, casting judgement on your abstinence from alcohol at your work party. They are focused on their own lives and experience at the event and could not be more uninterested in whether or not you are having a drink. Let go of the idea that you are under constant scrutiny and allow yourself to be present in the moment and enjoy your time at the party. If you find yourself feeling self-conscious, take a moment to pray and realign your thoughts so you do not allow anxiety to overtake you.

If you are concerned about your inability to resist the urge to take a drink, this does not necessarily mean you should avoid attending the work party. Make your plus one a member of your sober support network, preferably someone with a year or more continuous sobriety. This way you are guaranteed not to be the only person at the party abstaining from alcohol, and you will have support and accountability should the urge to drink strike. It is common practice for those new in recovery to enlist the help of those senior members of their 12-step community in order to safely attend functions where alcohol is being served, so there is no need to feel embarrassed about making such a request. Remember, the whole purpose of the community of AA is to help each other stay sober - your fellow sober supports will be happy to have the opportunity to assist you in your recovery journey!

Year-end work functions are a time-honored tradition in the corporate world, and alcohol is invariably a major player in the evening’s revelry. As a person new in sobriety, these holiday work parties may be anxiety inducing, but there is no reason to stress yourself out as to whether or not your attendance is a good idea. So long as you rely on the tools you have learned in your recovery and take common sense precautions against the risk of relapse you can feel free to engage in the end of year celebration with your coworkers, perhaps even finding you enjoy the parties more sober than you ever did intoxicated!