When you make the decision to become sober, one of the most annoying things you have to deal with is your friends, family, and colleagues trying to convince you to have a drink.
It’s easy for you to avoid alcohol and have fun in the day, but when you go out to a social event at night, you start having problems.
“Why is it so hard to socialize without alcohol?” You ask yourself. “Why can’t I have just one drink?” You want to learn how to have fun without drinking, and that’s how you ended up here.
Well, fortunately for you there’s a way to enjoy life without drinking that doesn’t require becoming a hermit and avoiding everyone you love, and I’ll share with you exactly how to do that in this article
Watch my Ted Talk on what I learned about the relationship between addiction and identity.
1) Figure out the alcohol-free fun activities you’re passionate about
The usual advice given for socializing without alcohol is to spend less time in bars.
This is good advice, but it has a glaring flaw: you can obtain alcohol almost anywhere. In fact, alcohol has become such a central part of modern American life that there are almost no social events where it’s not possible to get a drink.
Sure, it’s a bad idea to get blackout drunk at live music, but they still allow you to buy alcohol there.
Attend a book launch, and there are almost certainly going to be drinks. Want to enjoy a local sporting event? There’s going to be alcohol.
So leaving the bar scene is not enough. You need to do things that will take you to new environments and have an awesome experience without a single drop of booze.
In all likelihood, you already know what those things are. Almost everyone can think of something they have fun doing while sober.
- What is it about these activities that you enjoy?
- How do you feel after you do them?
- You’ve got plenty of other options. Why do this thing in particular?
Once you have the answers to these questions, the next question is…
What do you get from drinking with people you don’t get from spending time sober with them?
2) Understand what you get out of drinking alcohol
Personally, I drank because I wanted to feel connected and fit in.
I didn’t think I was interesting or cool enough for people to desire my company solely on the merits of my personality. Drinking made me feel like I had a valuable place in a group.
Soon, drinking became the only way I knew how to connect with people. It wasn’t just a crutch anymore; it had completely wiped out my ability to socialize and connect with people.
Nevertheless, it was clear that I enjoyed environments where I got mental stimulation or felt connected with other people—and preferably, some combination of the two.
What did I do instead of drinking? I started spending more time with my friends individually over coffee rather than in group settings at the bar, and it made a huge difference in my life.
3) Realize that you’ve been lied to
If you’ve been led to believe one thing your entire life, chances are you’re going to keep believing that thing is true. You probably won’t think anything is wrong until you learn to take an objective view of your beliefs.
However, what if I told you that everything you know about alcohol, addiction, and sobriety is a lie?
Alcohol has been marketed to you as a way to become confident, charismatic, and cool. Advertisements always show people looking happy, celebrating with a group of friends, or living a high-end lifestyle while drinking premium vodka.
But they don’t show you the hangovers, vomit, financial ruin, regrets, and fights. And although you know these things happen when you drink, you still believe that alcohol will somehow cure boredom and make you have more fun than if you were sober.
Have you ever spoken to a drunk person? Do they seem like they’re having fun?
We only believe they’re having a good time because we associate their happiness with alcohol. And because we haven’t experienced what it’s like to be totally free of alcohol and have fun without it, it’s impossible to imagine a world without it.
As is the case with all things, you can’t defeat it until you understand it, and this is the first step in doing it. The next is to change your lifestyle and environment.
4) Change where you hang out
Your environment is full of people who don’t support each other’s decisions to drink.
You’re trying to establish a new habit in an older environment, where the numbers are not on your side and—for the moment—you don’t know any other way to fit in.
You’re in a situation where people expect you to drink and where all your friends are going to drink. That is why you, and most other people who try, fail to socialize sober.
Have you ever tried to not drink when you’re out with a group of friends?
The typical interaction goes like this:
Drinking friend: What are you having to drink? The first round’s on me.
You: Nah, I’m good. Thanks though.
Drinking friend: What! Come on, why aren’t you drinking?
At this point, you need to explain why you’re not drinking. And when you can’t come up with an explanation, you feel confident enough to stand by. You cave to peer pressure.
Understanding the relationship between your old drinking environment and your own behavior is essential.
You’re a product of your environment, and your daily actions reinforce your environment’s power over you.
Whenever you try to change yourself for the better, there will always be friction: internal or external.
Usually, it’s both.
And there is only one way to win: by building yourself up.
5) Make new friends
Making new friends is the most difficult part for people who want to quit drinking and lead a sober social life. If you’re lucky, you’ll have other things in common with your old drinking buddies besides getting drunk. However, this is not a reality for most people. Even if your friends support your sobriety, things will be different because a major part of your social life is different.
The best thing to do is to make a sober friend or two. At the very least, you need to make friends from different activities that do not involve alcohol. The activity doesn’t matter. All that matters is finding people who can do those activities without alcohol.
It also helps if you make friends with someone who also has—or is currently in the process of—overcoming substance abuse. These are the types of people that you’ll be able to talk with about the unique feelings and challenges you face, not just in developing a sober social life, but in being sober, in general.
6) Build yourself up
Only once you have become a stronger, better version of yourself will you be able to feel comfortable in any environment, including your old one.
The only reason you find it difficult to have fun without drinking is that you haven’t built yourself up into the kind of person that can say no.
In order to do that, you’ll need an idea of what kind of person you want to become. What kind of life do you want to build for yourself?
Go through this list and figure out your ideal:
- Relationships and family
You want to make it as easy as possible to visualize this future for yourself, and then put the daily habits and actions in place to get you there.
Once you make this vision your priority, it’s much easier to reject anything that goes against it—including trying to socialize without drinking.
It’s a long journey and not something I can summarize in this article, so make sure you check out my blog post on fixing your life if you want to get serious about it.
As you spend more time building an amazing life for yourself and less time in bars, the better you get at saying no to a drink.
The better you get at not taking a drink, the less appealing drinking becomes.
The less appealing drinking becomes, the less time you want to spend around drunk people.
This is how you become the master of the environment that once enslaved you.
A different way to get sober
It was a terrifying time when I got sober, but I made it through. I wish someone warned me about the emotional and mental challenges I’d face when I quit drinking.
I wrote this book for people who want to get sober but don’t have any support. I wrote this book to give guidance where there currently is none in our society.Check it out on Amazon
7) Learn to enjoy non-alcoholic beverages
Before giving up alcohol, I didn’t think most places carried a brand of non-alcoholic beer. As long as you tip normally, bars are happy to serve it because It’s one less person likely to act like an asshole.
Many times, we drink because it’s just a way to not feel like an outsider. There are many non-alcoholic drink alternatives to popular alcoholic beverages. Most places have a menu of “mocktails” that allow you to feel like you’re socially fitting in with drinkers, but not dealing with the effects of alcohol yourself.
Non-alcoholic beer is one of my go-to favorites in this regard as well. One of my new favorite non-alcoholic beers is produced by a company named Gruvi. They reached out to me a few weeks ago to offer me some of their products to try.
I was immediately skeptical because I already have my “tried and true” favorites. I was worried that a new company was just trying to get some free publicity. However, I’m always open to being surprised so I accepted their products and tried them out.
Me enjoying a nice cool non-alcoholic beer by Gruvi.
I’m happy to say that Gruvi legitimately blew me away with both taste and quality.
If you want to enjoy the taste of a cool lager, stout, or an IPA, but you’re no longer a drinker, I highly recommend trying their lineup. Use discount code Ed10 for a 10% discount. You will not be disappointed.
A summary of what to do to have fun without alcohol
It doesn’t matter if you’re addicted to alcohol or just have a couple of drinks a month, if you want to have real success when you stop drinking, you need to address three things:
- The social conditioning about alcohol
- Changing your environment
- Building a better you
Once you can understand these and learn to internalize them in your daily life, saying no to a drink from your friends will be easy.