For nearly all of my adult life just about every social occasion or event involved drinking. My social life and drink went hand in hand, the thought of going out with friends for an evening without sinking a few pints of beer seemed ridiculous, why would anyone do that?
Of course, I couldn’t stop drinking after a few pints of beer. If I had been out for the evening drinking with friends I would always make sure there was a bottle of red wine at home ready for a nightcap (this would generally be the entire bottle).
I used to laugh about people who didn’t drink, I thought they were missing out on so much in and had sad little lives lacking in happiness and enjoyment. How wrong I have been, since I stopped I have got rid of my anxiety and I have never been happier.
After quitting alcohol six months ago I have realised that you can have just as much fun when you don’t drink and you can enjoy your social life just as much as the next person.
The First Months of Sobriety
Personally, at the start I avoided just about every social situation where drink might be involved, I had committed myself to a new sober-life but I was still fragile and finding my feet. Mixing with heavy drinkers and people who think it is a good idea to encourage you to drink is not a good idea at this point in the journey.
I stayed away, it took around 3 months before I ventured out into an environment where drink would be flowing, when the evening came I was really nervous but prepared and I actually enjoyed myself (even though we left at 10:30pm when the drunk people started to become loud and annoying).
After the first social event was out of the way I felt a lot more relaxed and have been out many times since, I do still avoid certain friends who I know would pressure me to drink, there are also certain locations that just don’t interest me or appeal to me as a non-drinker, so I stay away.
All This Extra Time
When I first quit alcohol I had read that I would have so much extra time on my hands, I didn’t believe it but it’s true.
Because we aren’t seeking boozy nights out any longer and we are picking and choosing what we do with our social life it is natural to start exploring new interests.
The best news of all is that we now do everything with a clear mind and because we aren’t drunk we get to remember everything. This is without mentioning the joy of driving home sober and getting in your comfy bed before waking up feeling fresh and hangover free the next morning.
In recent months I have been so much more motivated to get out and explore new interests, I have been travelling more, blogging more, spending way more time with my son (without snapping and arguing with him) and my true friends, going to the gym and running more and I have even made new friends and connections in the sober-world that have given me extra work to keep me even more busy doing something that I am really passionate about.
Whenever I attend a social event where I know drink will be flowing I always go armed with a plan. From my experience I know that by 11pm most people will be drunk, talking loudly, repeating themselves and starting to get annoying.
At my work Christmas party everyone was so drunk I was able to quietly slip off and drive myself home at midnight and nobody even noticed, I still had a turn on the dancefloor and plenty of laughs and good conversations, but once everyone was drunk it wasn’t really fun anymore.
I also try and make sure there will be suitable alcohol-free drinks available and I always watch my glass to ensure I don’t pick up the wrong one.
You May Need New Friends
My own experience has highlighted the fact that some of my friendships were based mainly around drinking, when I think back there are one or two friends where we have never been out without drink being involved.
You may find these friends react badly to you quitting drinking, they have lost a drinking buddy and can feel their own behaviour is being judged when someone goes sober (not that we judge anyone, but they can feel this way).
So you have to ask yourself if these are true friendships or whether you just have a common love of alcohol? True friends will be supportive of your new sober-lifestyle and would never consider trying to make you have a drink.
You may find that you start spending less time with your old drinking buddies because you just don’t share the same interest any longer and as a result you will likely find new friends and probably form much stronger long-lasting relationships.
The first social outing can be a challenge and it is natural to feel nervous about it, my advice is to reach out to members of the Be Sober private Facebook group and talk to other people on the same journey for advice, support and encouragement.
If you haven’t joined the Be Sober group yet simply click the Facebook icon below and ask to join.