Minding Your Health – Surviving Pride Sober

June is LGBTQIA Pride month, and our community will celebrate with festivals, picnics and interfaith services. For many, the festivities include cracking open a cold beer (or beers) on a hot summer day and cocktailing the night away on the dance floor.

If you choose to drink, do so responsibly with these guidelines:
Have a plan before you start. Carry only enough cash for a predetermined number of drinks (for example, four drinks = $20), and leave the credit and debit cards at home.
Know how you’ll be getting home before you leave the house.
Postpone your first drink.
Be sure to limit your intake to one drink per hour.
Buy your own drinks. This helps you maintain control of how much alcohol you consume.
Refrain from participating in group rounds of shots. When groups drink together, everyone follows the pace of the fastest drinker, which makes it easier to lose control.
Drink plenty of water, with a 1-to-1 ratio. For every serving of alcohol, drink an equal serving of water.
Track how much you drink during a specific time period.
Eat every couple of hours to help your body absorb the alcohol.
Enlist the help of friends, and watch out of each other.
Know your limits, and share those with your friends.

For others, maintaining sobriety from alcohol and drugs during Pride celebration is particularly challenging. Pride is about our community coming together to include everyone. If you have a friend or friends committed to sobriety, respect their decision not to drink and support them as they make other choices.

If you are in recovery and want to take part in Pride events, consider these suggestions:
Attend an AA meeting or similar support group before attending Pride.
Attend events with friends who understand and support your recovery.
Carry a non-alcoholic drink with you at all times. Others will be less likely to offer you a drink or ask whether you are drinking in the first place.
Practice your reasons for not drinking in case someone asks. The more confidently you share your reasons, the less likely it is that they will try to influence you.
Remind yourself why you chose sobriety.
Know your triggers for drinking using HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired).
Have a plan to leave in case you become overwhelmed and feel vulnerable.

Pride is for everyone in our community, regardless of how we choose to express it. Whether to drink or not drink is a choice. Just like we want others to respect our choices, we must respect theirs.

Enjoy everything our community offers during Pride, and support those who choose to celebrate differently.
Kyle Danner is an organizer for the LGBT-Affirmative Therapists Guild of Greater Kansas City. He received a master’s degree in counseling and guidance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.