Maintain a Thriving Social Life When You’re Quitting Drinking
Being sober doesn’t mean giving up all of our social activities. In fact, we often find ourselves missing out on some great opportunities because we are too busy working on sobriety. But there are ways to maintain a social life while quitting drinking. Here are three tips for maintaining a social life when you’re abstinent:
13 Ways to Be Social Without Alcohol
1. Choose social situations that don’t involve alcohol use.
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but give it a try! There are plenty of fun things to do with friends that don’t involve booze.
2. Get comfortable being yourself.
Social anxiety is normal. But if it gets out of control, it can become debilitating. If you find yourself struggling with social anxiety while you’re sober or newly sober, there are several ways to manage it. The first one is to throw away the idea of liquid courage; you don’t need it! If anything, drinking ultimately increases anxiety symptoms once you sober up.
Try this instead: Asking open-ended questions will allow people to relax and enjoy conversations with others. Open-ended questions give people the opportunity to answer in their own words. Instead of forcing them to answer what you want to hear, you can encourage them to tell you something interesting. For example, instead of saying, “Tell me about yourself,” say, “I love hearing stories about my friends. What are some of your favorite things?”
3. Have an excuse ready.
Be honest and keep it short. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, but having a list of excuses, or one in particular, can help alleviate some awkward moments.
- “I’m not drinking because I think alcohol isn’t good for me.”
- “I’m cutting down because I want to live a healthier lifestyle.”
- “I am giving up drinking because I want to focus on my career.”
- “I’ve been drinking for 20 years, and I’m tired of feeling sick every day.”
4. Be the designated driver.
Designating yourself as the designated drinker is a great way to let others know that you’re not drinking without the added pressure to participate. Plus you have the added bonus of helping your friends get home safely!
5. Go out for coffee or lunch.
Drinking alcohol while recovering from alcoholism can make it harder to kick the habit, so you might want to avoid bars and nightlife for a while (or forever, it’s up to you!) You’re less likely to face pressure to drink on a lunch or coffee date. For more tips for how to date a recovering addict, read this.
6. Focus on what you have rather than what you’re missing.
Alcohol is only a small part of the overall experience, so don’t let it ruin the rest. This article shares some tips on how to enjoy yourself without alcohol.
7. Just show up
Alcoholics often avoid social events because they know how much trouble they’re likely to get into. But according to research published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, there are ways to make yourself less susceptible to drinking. Give the event a try, and if it’s too hard to stay, have an exit strategy ready. This brings me to my next point.
8. Create an exit excuse
When you’re leaving a party, you want to ensure that you don’t look like a downer. You do this by having an exit excuse ready such as:
- My friend needed me to pick up his car keys.
- I’m meeting someone else there.
- I forgot my wallet/keys.
- I just realized I left my coat inside.
9. Be the organizer
Call ahead and ask if they offer anything without alcohol. If they do, it might save you some money. You don’t want to end up spending $20 on a bottle of water because you didn’t know about the no-alcohol option.
If they say yes, tell them what you’re looking for. Do they have any beer, wine, or liquor that doesn’t contain alcohol?
You could also try asking if they have any low-calorie options. Some restaurants offer those, too.
You could suggest one of many sober activities to spend time with friends, like; physical activity, sports, hiking, or something cultural like a museum or art gallery while you spend time socializing.
10. Plan a Productive Morning After
You wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. You feel like you’ve got the energy to burn. But what happens next? If you start out with a plan, it could help keep you focused throughout the morning. Enjoy the lack of a hangover!
11. Keep a Non-Alcoholic Drink in Hand
If you are drinking socially, you probably know the drill: You’re offered a glass of wine or beer or maybe even a shot of whiskey. But what about those times when you just want to say no? A study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research suggests having a non-alcoholic drink on hand could help you avoid getting drunk. Researchers asked participants to think about why they’d like to have a drink. Those who had a non-alcoholic beverage in their hands were less likely to come up with excuses such as “I’m bored,” “I’m lonely,” or “I’m nervous.” They were also less likely to mention they wanted to relax or unwind.
The researchers theorize that having a drink in your hand forces you to make conscious decisions about whether you really want one. In contrast, people who don’t have a drink tend to take things at face value. This allows them to be swayed by social cues, such as being told that everyone else wants a drink.
12. Go Places That Don’t Serve Alcohol
If you want to reduce drinking, it might help to go somewhere that doesn’t serve alcohol. This is because there are many places where you won’t see any booze. In fact, some restaurants even ban guests from bringing bottles into their establishments. But, if you really want to avoid drinking altogether, you’ll probably have to make a few changes to your lifestyle.
For example, you could stop eating out at bars and clubs. You could try to avoid getting drunk at parties. Or, you could just ask your friends to stop buying you drinks. However, none of those things will work unless you actually do something different. So, what can you do?
Ultimately, the best thing that you can do is to take control of your life. By doing so, you’ll be able to make healthier decisions regarding everything from food to alcohol.
13. Socialize Through Sober Communities
Alcohol triggers are common problems that many people struggle with while maintaining sobriety. They often lead to relapse, which leads to further drinking and drug use. If you want to avoid relapsing, it helps to know how alcohol affects your body and brain.
In addition to knowing what happens during and after drinking, having support systems – including friends and family members who understand addiction – can make recovery easier.
Building a strong sober network will also help you cope with the challenges associated with being sober. Having sober friends and family members around can provide emotional support, encouragement, and accountability. You might even find yourself asking questions about your recovery.
So, start building your sober social circle today.
Have an Honest Talk With Your Friends
Have an open discussion with trusted family or friends about why you’ve given up drinking. A vulnerable and real conversation will gain you an ally in social events as you try to stay sober.
Be Prepared for People’s Reactions
Friends who know about your decision might react differently depending on how close they are to you. They might feel less strongly about it, or they may become angry or upset. Some friends may even try to persuade you out of your decision. If you want to keep friendships strong, you’ll need to be prepared for different kinds of reactions and understand why they’re happening.
You can still maintain good relationships even though some friendships will inevitably change over time. As long as you continue to treat each friend well, you’ll find yourself surrounded by supportive people who value you.
This might require shifting your social circle.
Alcohol-free communities are growing in number. They range from groups like Meetup.com’s “No Booze” group to Facebook events dedicated to socializing without booze. These groups offer people who want to cut out drinking a place to meet up and talk about it.
You really can find ways to have fun and be social without alcohol.
People who choose to go alcohol-free often find themselves surrounded by others who share similar experiences, says Dr. Michael Evans, founder of the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Treatment. He notes that there are many ways to connect with those who don’t drink. For example, you could join a local AA chapter or attend a support group meeting. Or, you could try joining a sports team or volunteering in a soup kitchen. You might even consider starting your own no-booze club.
Who knows? You might even inspire some of your loved ones to re-evaluate their own relationship with alcohol!
In the end, figure out what amount of drinking you are willing to be around.
Drinking alcohol is part of our culture and society. We celebrate it, we enjoy it, and we often look forward to it. But there are ways to partake without getting drunk. There are plenty of things you can do while still being responsible about your consumption of alcohol. So use this guide to create connections with others and achieve your goals to live a healthier, more sober life.
If you need help, contact us today at Sober Life San Diego.