The idea of going to the pub if you are a recovering alcoholic is a controversial topic. Many people say that it is best to avoid this entirely because it just involves far too much temptation. Others claim that visiting the pub for special occasions like Christmas is not such a big deal so long as you have a strong recovery. The decision to enter this environment is something that everyone in recovery has to make for him or herself.
Good Reasons to Go to the Pub over the Christmas Period
It is vital that you are clear about your reason for wanting to go to the pub over the Christmas period. Some justifiable reasons for why you might want to go there would include:
- there is a social occasion that you really cannot avoid, and you are just going to make an appearance and leave early
- you want to go during the day for the Christmas dinner with family or friends
- there is a work related get-together, and it might causes problems for you if you did not attend
- there is some type of event (for example, a friend is playing in the pub band) that you don’t want to miss
- you work in a pub.
You have to be very honest yourself about the reason for wanting to go to the pub over the Christmas period. If you feel it is a valid reason and it will not put your sobriety at risk, it may be okay for you to go.
Bad Reasons to Want to Go to the Pub over the Christmas Season
There are also some very dangerous reasons for wanting to go to the pub over the Christmas period, such as:
- getting pleasure from watching others drink alcohol and getting drunk – you try to imagine how they must be feeling
- you miss spending time with your old drinking buddies and want to be around them again
- you want to try to experience the same type of environment that you enjoyed while drinking
- you are unsure about life in sobriety and just want to be around those who are drinking
- you believe that Christmas just isn’t the same unless you are in the pub all the time
- you are going to the pub because you feel bored.
If you are going to the pub for the wrong reason over the Christmas period, you will be at high risk of relapse. In Alcoholics Anonymous, they warn newcomers that if you spend enough time in a barbershop, you are eventually going to get a haircut; by being in a pub a Christmas without a valid reason, you are an accident just waiting to happen.
How to Stay Safe in the Pub over Christmas Period
If you feel you have a valid reason for being in the pub over the Christmas period, you can protect your sobriety by:
- Practicing what you are going to say if people offer you an alcoholic drink – you do not have to give your life story. A simple but definite ‘I’m not drinking’ is usually sufficient.
- Try to spend as little time as possible in the pub. If it is some type of social function, you should try to leave early; it can be boring anyway if you are sober and everyone else is inebriated.
- You may want to bring along another sober friend to give you some support but just make sure that this person has a solid recovery because you do not want to be responsible if he or she relapses.
- Be prepared to leave the pub immediately if you feel tempted to drink; get in touch with somebody in recovery who can offer you support.
- It is never usually a good idea to enter the pub environment if you have only been sober for a few months.