The first answer is simply don’t drink, which for alcoholics is not so simple. The next answer is to not put yourself in a place of temptation where there may be any alcohol around. This also is not always so simple. While there is no alcohol at the Con, there is pretty much everywhere else and who wants to miss out on the off-site fun?
With 8 months of sobriety I am not entirely sure how I will handle possible triggers. So here are some ideas I have based on what others have told me to do.
1. Have an escape plan – If you go somewhere and start getting cravings then make sure you have a fast way out. Excuse yourself and leave, or even tell your friends you need to get out of there now.
2. Have a drink in hand – Drinking is so social that you may feel out of place without a drink in hand. Even worse, if you don’t have one then somebody might try to hand you a drink. Don’t give them the chance. As soon as you enter a bar, go to the counter and order a nonalcoholic beverage to nurse through the night. That way you will look like you fit in without having to drink.
3. Tip the bartender – Another friend of mine would tip the bartender really well up front, order a nonalcoholic beverage and tell the bartender not to let anyone but him a drink. While sobriety is your responsibility and not the bartenders, having him/her on your side can’t hurt.
4. Make that call – Yeah, that phone feels like 10,000 pounds at times, but pick it up and make a call to somebody if you feel like drinking. Most counties have hotlines you can call that will pick up at any time of day or night. Have it preprogrammed into your phone so you have no excuse. You sobriety is worth it. For San Diego area call 619-265-8762.
5. Hang with sober friends – This one may be tricky, but try and find sober people, or even non-drinkers, to hang out with. They can help you be accountable. If you don’t know anyone at SDCC that is sober, then check out some recovery meetings, or even go to our Recovery-Con!
6. Plan something else – If you don’t think you can handle a bar or lounge, then plan something else instead (or find a meetup that doesn’t have alcohol). Plan a game night in a hotel lobby or go to a meetup at a coffee shop instead, this is another great form of an escape route.
7. Don’t isolate – Make sure you don’t withdraw, isolate or find yourself in a place that serves alcohol by yourself. With so many events going on it’s easy to say, “hey guys, I’m just going to run over to this meetup for thirty minutes and then catch up with you.” This is a bad, bad idea. Do not put yourself in a place with alcohol all alone. Find somebody to go with you or just don’t go no matter how cool it is. There is nothing cool about a relapse.
8. Out of your mind – Your mind is your own worst enemy. If you are thinking about drinking you need to get out of your head ASAP. Find something to distract you or better yet, do something kind for somebody else! Whether it be buying their dinner or just giving them a complement, you will get a burst of joy and out of your head. A little kindness goes a long to staying sober.
9. Don’t go – This is the last resort, but if you are feeling twitchy then don’t go to that bar or lounge that is on your mind. Your sobriety is worth missing out on that bar or event.
So these are all things I will be practicing at Comic-Con this year to help keep me sober, it’s the most important thing I can do at the Con, especially considering how things went last year.
Ultimately, my sobriety is my responsibility and yours is yours. It’s not my friends or the bartenders or anyone else’s, but these things can help. Going in with the right mentality and some rules in place can go a long way to keeping me sober. Comic-Con is an amazing experience. The last thing I want to do is look back on it with regret because of a relapse.