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How to Be a Gracious Host to Guests in Recovery

Social gatherings are beneficial for our emotional health, but what considerations should you make when your party guests are sober? Here's how to be a great host to guests in recovery.

Addiction recovery resources tend to focus on the person with substance abuse disorder (SUD). Information on how to rebuild their lives, the encouragement to move forward, and how to comfortably lean on their support network is already plentiful. But what about that support network? What resources do they have? 

In spite of how these individuals regularly provide emotional support, companionship, encouragement, validation, and even economic assistance to their addicted loved ones, the support network is often overlooked, particularly when it comes to recovery-related resources. But it’s not always obvious how best to support someone’s sobriety, particularly during the summer months when more people are hosting gatherings and other outdoor events. 

Parties and get-togethers don’t just boost our social lives but can actually improve mental health. But parties tend to serve alcohol, which tends to be problematic for those in recovery. As the host, you want to entertain both sober and non-sober guests while making everyone feel included and well taken care of.

How do you balance sober friends’ needs with partygoers’ alcohol expectations? With the one-two punch of alcohol-free alternatives and open communication, you can beat the anxiety and focus on the planning. 

Create an Alcohol-Free Evening 

People drink to have fun; however, this is not an option for someone in recovery, which is an important thing to remember when you’re hosting people who are sober. Try to be mindful of how you can make your sober guests feel included. Inviting guests known to be heavy drinkers or pull all-nighters are not the right fit if a sober friend is attending. Create a guest list that includes those with similar lifestyles, whether that’s a calmer crowd or an older group. There are ways outside of champagne glasses to break the ice. 

Inviting guests known to be heavy drinkers or pull all-nighters are not the right fit if a sober friend is attending.

Focus on Food 

Consider refreshments outside of the alcohol. People like to drink, but they love to eat. Go beyond the appetizers and make food the star of the show, showcasing a beautiful spread. If the weather is nice, host a BBQ; enough pulled pork, ribs, chicken, and sides make for a casual, fun evening all on their own. 

Or make it a potluck. Choose a theme or menu and let everyone show off their culinary prowess. Let the compliments – and requests to take home leftovers – flow instead of the booze.

If you’re hiring someone to handle the food, work with the caterers to create a menu theme that works without cocktails. The experts know their stuff. Finally, if you can’t get away with cutting out  the liquor, hire pack-away or clean-up services so nothing lingers and your sober guests aren’t tempted. 

Don’t Cook With Alcohol 

Cooking removes alcohol, but not all of it. If you invite someone who wants to avoid alcohol, then it’s probably best to remove the risk altogether. If your guest knows you put booze in their dinner, even the subtlest flavor could trigger cravings.

Cravings are not always logical, but the temptation may lead your guest to drink the cooking wine, mouthwash from the medicine cabinet, or whatever they can get their hands on.A seemingly innocent offer to “help” can become a rush to serve the dinner as an attempt to keep some alcohol in the food. 

There are plenty of alternatives to accommodate your sober guests. And who knows? You might decide you prefer it too. 

Serve Alcohol-Free Alternatives 

Beer, wine, and liquor make great social drinks and combine to make delicious cocktails, but you can also find satisfying non-alcoholic beverages. If appropriate, you can create an interesting menu of mocktails or dazzle your guests with infused juices and sparkling water. The same fizzy feelings of champagne, but with none of the alcohol! 

You can always turn to punch. A huge bowl of punch can provide a place for guests to congregate and chat.  

Find Activities That Don’t Require Booze 

Find something to focus on that isn’t dependent on food and drink. Build the party around a public activity like bowling or a pool party, or you could break out your board games for a game night. 

Other options include cookouts, costume parties, and karaoke. At the end of the day, you’ll want focus on  finding  ways to entertain your guests while giving them something to talk about.. 

Invite Other Sober Friends & Recovery Allies

You know your inner circle best. If  guests refuse to party sober, do not invite them. 

Build a selective guest list to ensure your gathering consists of a relatively like-minded crowd. Invite people who either don’t mind a dry party or will choose to remain sober. 

Unless he or she is open about recovery, don’t point out who’s in recovery to avoid accidental public shaming. This is a helpful approach because other guests won’t encourage or pressure them to drink, and they won’t feel awkward as the only sober one in the group. 

Make Careful Decisions About Alcohol & Where You Keep It 

If you don’t have a dry household, consider where you keep alcohol so it doesn’t appear unexpectedly at your party. For someone in recovery, easy access to alcohol can mean an impending relapse. Additionally, locking up alcohol in plain sight may come with the added liability of potential property damage. 

If your SUD guest knows alcohol is concealed, they might feel tempted to look for it. This invasion of privacy can do lasting damage with feelings of betrayal on your end and crippling shame on theirs. Supervising everyone at the party for every second of the evening is also not your job. As the host, you have plenty of other responsibilities. 

Ask your SUD friend if they expect to have a problem with stored liquor. If so, have an honest discussion or temporarily remove it from your home. 

Will You Drink? 

Consider an act in solidarity with your sober guests. A host who remains sober sets the stage for support and a smooth evening. You can stay on-task and organized, cut off a guest who had enough two drinks ago, and uphold good judgment. Offer to be the designated driver or help find a place for your guests to sleep. 

Don’t ask your sober friend if they mind if you drink. Your sobriety may help them feel less alone, and they might appreciate the conversation, but don’t ask for permission to drink. Your friend in recovery has enough emotional weight without yours on the pile.

Don’t Pressure GuestsTo Come 

A social situation with alcohol or otherwise associated with drinking can be overwhelming for someone in recovery. If your sober guest decides to stay home after some self-reflection, let them take a rain check, and don’t make a big deal out of it to the rest of the partygoers. 

How Purposes Recovery Can Help 

With just a little foresight, you can host more flexible – and successful – social gatherings. According to the patients at our LA medical detox program, a functional social life matters. In fact, we encourage you to share this post on social media so more people can be more accommodating hosts to those who are in recovery.


Recovery Starts at Our Drug Rehab in Los Angeles CA

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use disorder, request a confidential call from our addiction treatment center in Los Angeles CA. Our team is ready to guide you through understanding your treatment options in a supportive and understanding environment. Taking this step is a sign of strength and the beginning of your path to a healthier, brighter future.

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