It’s a common struggle for many professionals and executives. While on the road for business, a few coworkers might want to get together for drinks after work and talk about the next big project coming down the pipeline, or share the latest technology scuttlebutt, or even talk about the most recent episode of Game of Thrones.
As a professional who is in recovery or committed to sobriety, however, it can be difficult to know what to do in these situations. You know that many of the best ideas and relationships in business are formed outside of work hours, but you also recognize the need to stay sober. Fortunately, it is possible to stay sober while also not hamstringing your career.
First, keep in mind whether you have committed to complete abstinence or merely to limiting your drinking.
If you have decided to limit your drinking instead of remain completely abstinent, set a limit for yourself on the number of drinks you will have before you go to the event. Write this limit down, share it with friends, family, and even a trusted coworker, and stick to it.
That being said, most individuals in recovery are committed to complete abstinence from alcohol, so here are a few suggestions for helping you walk the line between business and booze:
- First and foremost, avoid situations where there will be alcohol if at all possible. This becomes more difficult if it is a mandatory work meeting or team building exercise, but it is in your best interest to avoid situations with alcohol whenever possible.
- If not going to a work event where there will be alcohol would have severe consequences for you or your career, tell has many trusted people as you can about what is going on. Talk with your sponsor, family, close friends, and even a trusted coworker or two who can help keep you accountable.
- Try to keep a full non-alcoholic drink in your hand, whether that is soda, iced tea, or even good old water. It will give you a good excuse for not ordering an alcoholic drink.
- Be polite but firm if anyone encourages you to drink. Remember you have a right to decline a drink if it is offered.
Of course, one of the other major reasons you may be tempted to drink while on the road is simply the boredom, isolation, and loneliness that can happen at times with work-related travel. In these instances, consider the following tips:
- Tell your sponsor, friends, and family members ahead of time where you are going and what you plan on doing. The more time during the trip you have planned out, the more likely you are to do not drink out of boredom.
- Talk with friends and family regularly. Set up regular phone calls or video calls to reconnect with them during your trip.
- Keep in mind the situations that may trigger you, cause you stress, and make you want to turn to alcohol. Try as best you can anticipate those events and make a plan for how to respond to them if they arise.
Your commitment to sobriety is worth fighting for, as is your career. By being wise during your work trips and leaning on the support of your sponsor, family, friends, and trusted coworkers, it is possible to build both your career and your number of days sober.