For many years I was in an occupation that required me to go into bars. My clients or prospects often suggested meeting for a drink to discuss the details of whatever deal we were working on.
When I quit drinking this was a huge problem for me. I had been taught that I should stay away from bars. After all…that’s where the booze is. That wasn’t an option for me because I still had to make a living.
A friend who had been sober for a long time helped me find a way to solve my dilemma. He told me that I should, in fact, stay away from bars. But, when legitimate reasons arose it was alright. I just had to give it some thought before plunging in.
Here is what he told me to do…
If I must go to a bar or party where I know drinking is likely, I should drive myself rather than riding with someone else. I should also park my car where I could get to it quickly. Avoid using a valet service, for example.
If I found myself tempted, I could get out quickly before things got ugly.
Maintain a Lifeline
Before going to the bar or party I was to call my friend and let him know where I was. He would reassure me that I could do it. If he sensed anything alarming in my voice he would tell me to abort.
I was also to excuse myself and call him while at the event. This just kept me grounded in the “sober” world.
Order a Drink Right Away
As soon as I got to the bar I was to order a non-alcoholic drink such as tonic water. This would be a convenient excuse for refusing a drink…”no thanks, I already have one.” There was no reason for anyone to know what I was drinking.
I didn’t need to explain to anyone that I had quit drinking. It was none of their business.
Keep My Visit Brief
Even if things were going well, don’t hang around after the business is done. Don’t be rude and rush out, but don’t push the envelope either. When the business was concluded, hit the road.
Have Another “Important Engagement” In the Wings
Before going to the event, I should have an excuse for leaving ready. I should be ready to thank my clients for meeting me, but I was going to have to cut the evening short due to other obligations. For me that was often true, because I was usually heading to an AA meeting later.
If you have good reason, and you are spiritually fit, spending some time in a bar is acceptable. Just be sure you are properly fortified and prepared before doing so.