Let’s face it. Holiday parties can be an absolute minefield for someone with addiction or in the process of recovery.
While they may be great for networking and connecting with your colleagues, they can also test your resilience and focus on your recovery.
But holiday work functions don’t have to be stressful if you go in with a plan.
Here are a few of our best tips for handling work parties when saying “no” just isn’t an option.
- Make a list of goals to help you focus. If you’re going to the party as a career move, make a small list of what you could do while there to help you achieve your goals. Maybe it’s saying hi to the boss, sharing a few stories with that guy in finance, or asking a few questions about your company’s marketing strategy for the New Year. Whatever it is, use your list to focus on things other than alcohol and get something out of it in return.
- Be part of the party. Keeping yourself busy is always a great way to avoid temptation. But what if you could keep busy and impress your colleagues at the same time? Try putting your talents and time to work to make the party more enjoyable for everyone. For example, you could volunteer to run a fresh dessert bar, take photos for the newsletter, or even run a slide show with highlights of the work year. The ideas are bounded only by your imagination.
- Have your own “party” drink. Don’t feel like answering questions about why you don’t have a drink in your hand? Beat them to the punch. Literally. Ask for a festive-looking drink like cranberry juice, soda, and a slice of lime, and keep it with you. And as an added strategy: always keep it close to full so nobody feels the need to ask you if you want another drink at the bar.
- Arrive late and leave early. There are few strategies as simple and easy as this one. Being the first one there can make for some awkward moments. But being the last one there is just as bad. So, show up briefly during the peak, make your appearance, and duck out while everyone else is occupied. No one really notices how long you’re there; they’ll just remember that you showed.
- Eat. No, seriously, eat! Don’t show up hungry, and when the food comes out, enjoy it! If there’s alcohol flowing at the party, it’s not the time to be hungry or hangry. So, keep your gut content and take the pressure off!
- Take a support symbol. It could be a medallion, a chip, or just something tactile, and keep it in your pocket. Then rub it when you’re feeling stressed and use it as a reminder of just how far you’ve come.
- Have help on call. If you have a sponsor or a close friend, make sure you have your phone with you and that they’re available in case you get the urge to pick up a drink. As they say, teamwork makes the dream work.
- Leave if you have to. If you begin to feel even a glimmer of a compulsion to drink, it’s probably not the best time to test your willpower. Your future is worth more than another hour or so at a party. So just skip the formalities and head to the nearest exit. That way nobody will have the chance to talk (or guilt) you into staying.
These are just a few ways you can build resilience if you have a substance use disorder at holiday work parties.
We know that holiday work functions are more than just events; they’re tradition. So, it’s a good idea to at least think things through before you politely decline the invite.
There’s nothing wrong with partaking in a little holiday spirit.
Just remember that it’s okay to do it on your own terms.
We Can Help You
Ledgehill’s two facilities in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, provide gender-specific treatment for men and women who need to heal in a peaceful, supportive environment free from fear or distraction. If you’d like to learn more about the addiction and mental health treatment programs provided by Ledgehill, enrol yourself in one of our programs, or refer someone else, please call us at 800-676-3393.