Many people want to stop drinking for a variety of reasons. Have you been thinking about quitting drinking, or at least cutting down? Maybe you want to cut out the extra calories. Or perhaps you want to save money, get your partner off your back for “over-drinking”, or quit for health reasons.
Alcohol can be the centerpiece of many social situations, that’s for sure. It can be tough to think about going to some gatherings where just about everyone is drinking and you want to refrain. Or having a football get-together and only provide non-alcohol beverages. This is especially true if you’ve been known as the “party guy” and many of your friends enjoy drinking.
The good news is that many people are reconsidering their drinking habits. They’re wise enough to know that over-drinking or abusing alcohol can do a lot of damage on all levels.
Here, we offer a few ideas about what to do in order to have a social life while you focus on your sobriety.
Whether you were a habitual drinker or have been trying to stay sober longer without a major problem, you might want to begin in a very simple way: Make sure your friends know where you stand.
You can reveal as much or as little about why you are quitting drinking as you want to. A good group of friends will support your decision and not push you to drink more. You might actually inspire someone else to stop drinking too, especially if you share some feelings about problems you’ve had and they can relate to your issues.
It’s possible that your friends, or at least people who are with you, might not support your actions. They could pressure you to “loosen up a little” or “have some fun”. It’s oftentimes tough for some people to drink alone. They may also blame your spouse or significant other for attempting to make you quit.
The end result of not feeling supported or being teased about drinking might not last long, and could be their way of coping with someone in their group not drinking. You could even become the reliable sober driver for events, which tends to go over well with lots of drinkers. An alternative to this, if they simply aren’t supportive and you feel uncomfortable, is to hang out with different friends.
One of the biggest obstacles to stopping drinking is returning to old places and habits that were the cause of a drinking problem. Not returning to these places makes it easier to stop. Places like coffee shops, most movie theatres, museums, and retail stores generally don’t serve alcohol and can easily reduce your temptation by making liquor unavailable.
The next step to have a social life when going to new places is to help your friends discover why they should go with you. Invite your friends to movies and to hang out at coffee shops instead of the bar. Find unique places nearby that offer an atmosphere of fun without offering alcohol.
You may not be able to avoid alcohol all the time. When you are invited to a wedding, party, sports event, holiday party, etc., alcohol will probably be available. It might even be the main attraction. This is a time when you might want to have responses ready for the lack of beer or wine in hand.
A few ideas include:
While you don’t need to be a walking ad for sobriety, telling your friends that you feel better (physically and emotionally) after quitting drinking for a time might lead to more open discussions from them about the same thing. Many people think that quitting drinking is extremely hard. For some, it is tough, but it’s not impossible.
For those who struggle with alcoholism, it tends to be more challenging. Thus, it’s recommended to seek professional treatment to overcome alcohol addiction.
This sounds simple and it really is! You can order a soft drink, water, iced tea, or something else you might enjoy. Having a drink in hand will help distract you from your surroundings and keep you hydrated instead of drinking alcohol.
Let’s say you attend a bar or party where alcohol is available. You feel a bit overwhelmed by the idea of not drinking, as it seems everyone else is. And, it seems like they are having a good time. If you feel uncomfortable, use an excuse as a reason to leave. Let them know something came up you have to attend to.
Alternatively, if you want to be transparent, you can tell them you don’t feel comfortable around alcohol at the moment and want to leave. This really depends on how much information you want to share. Regardless, you have every right to leave if you’re feeling uncomfortable.
Whether your friends support you or not, not drinking can lead to different friends. If you’re hanging out in new places, you meet new people. And, they may not be into drinking either, which is a win-win. You get to cultivate new friendships where it’s not centered on alcohol or partying.
Having a social life while quitting drinking can be challenging, but with some precautions and new interests, you can have an easier time helping your friends and family understand your decision. No need to feel awkward about your decision to live life alcohol-free. More people are waking up to the fact that alcohol can cause various problems, and are committing to live sober.
So can you!