When you first get sober, it can be intimidating. You’re worried that you will lose your friends and your social life, or that you’ll be bored without alcohol. At the beginning, it can feel lonely. The friends you used to go out drinking with might stop inviting you to come along, and you may feel like you’re missing out. While getting sober will definitely be life-altering, you can still have a social life without alcohol.
7 Ways to Navigate Being Social Without Alcohol
The idea that you can’t have fun without alcohol is greatly outdated. Here are some tips to help you get through the early days of sobriety, and ways that you can still have a social life without alcohol.
1. Have a Fun Non-Alcoholic Drink
If you’re going somewhere where alcohol will be served, order a fun nonalcoholic drink, or bring your own if you’re going to a house party. This way, you won’t feel so left out when everyone else is drinking, and you won’t have to deal with people asking if they can get you something to drink. If you want to host a party, provide supplies to make fun non-alcoholic drinks.
2. Don't Try to Force People to Remain in Your Life
If someone no longer fits in with your life because you don’t drink anymore, then it may be time to move on from that friendship.
For many, alcohol can also be used as a crutch in social situations, making a person feel more comfortable and confident. However, it’s hard to listen and participate in a meaningful conversation if you or your friends aren’t very coherent. Socializing without alcohol is far more rewarding, but does take a bit of practice.
Remember, your true friends will love the sober you, and will want to have meaningful conversations with you. If someone reacts negatively to your decision to quit drinking, that is more of a reflection on their own relationship with alcohol. Real friendship is built on a firmer foundation than simply the fact that you both drink.
3. Be Prepared to Respond to Peer Pressure
It can be easy to accept a drink just to please people or to get them to stop asking so many questions. In order to decline a drink, you must be firm in your reasons to abstain from alcohol.
You have no obligation to explain yourself and your decisions to anyone, but it can help to have a few responses prepared in case people are being nosy. Here are a few example responses that you can use if someone asks you if you want a drink, without going into much detail:
- “I have to drive home.”
- “I have an early morning tomorrow.”
- “I’m alcohol-free right now for the health benefits.”
- “I don’t feel like drinking right now.”
- “No thanks.”
Take comfort in knowing that while your friends will be waking up with hangovers and foggy memories from the night before, you will wake up feeling well-rested and alert.
4. Make an Effort to Meet New Friends
If being sober is really important to you, you probably won’t meet your next best friend or significant other probably at a bar or club. Go places where you want to meet people. When you start developing your own hobbies, you’re bound to find and attract people who have similar interests. Here are a few ideas of activities you can start on your own that might help you meet new people:
- Join an amateur sports team
- Go to the gym
- Take a cooking class or an art class
- Go for walks in your community
- Attend local events
- Attend a church or religious community
- Join local social media groups
5. Embrace Time Spent Alone
There’s nothing wrong with spending time alone. Although it may feel a bit foreign at first, there is no rule that says you can’t take yourself out on a date to a movie or dinner, or any other activity for that matter.
Take your newfound sobriety as an opportunity to develop new hobbies, and spend time with yourself. Put on some music or a podcast and spend time walking or biking outside.
What’s something you’ve been wanting to try or devote more time to but just haven’t had time for? Now is the time to start. Whether it’s taking up photography, a musical instrument, a consistent workout regimen, or learning to cook, try to really put an effort into learning something new. You may find that you start valuing your time alone more than you ever have before.
6. Go for Coffee or Lunch with a Friend
Going out for a drink is often the casual go-to for meeting up with a friend. Suggest grabbing coffee or lunch instead. Have a few ideas of coffee shops or restaurants that you can try together. This way, you can have meaningful conversations without the lure of alcohol.
7. Attend 12-Step Meetings
The best way to meet fellow sober people? Attend meetings. Social media is also becoming an increasingly popular way of meeting people in the sobriety community. Look into joining facebook groups, or following fellow sober individuals on Instagram or Twitter.
Remember that ultimately, no one is paying as much attention to you as you think. Many people probably won’t even notice that you’re not drinking. Focus on yourself on your own wellbeing without worrying too much about pleasing other people, and know that sobriety gets easier with time.