Quitting drinking doesn’t mean giving up good friendships and meaningful social life. However, managing your interpersonal relationships while you quit drinking could be challenging. Particular thoughts might occur along the way like:
“Would still my friends see me as fun?”, “What if I’d be tempted and go back to square one?”, “How can I say no?” “Can I still have fun?”
If you are just in the early phase of recovery and are trying to cut back from alcohol, unfortunately, you might want to skip this social event for now. You will be surrounded by alcohol and drugs, which can be difficult to resist and trigger your powerful cravings and put you through another relapse.
Social events are easier to steer if you have been sober for so long and you have established that you are cutting back alcohol intake for your health and wellness. Regardless, it is still better to be prepared and plan on enjoying and having a good social life while quitting drinking.
Gather and have an open discussion with your friends
It is entirely up to you how much or little explanation you will share with your friends on why you are quitting drinking. Some good friends will express their immense support and will not even try to touch a nerve for you to drink again forcibly.
By discussing your sobriety, you might actually inspire others to quit chronic drinking all the more if you openly share your sentiments and alcohol-related issues that you have overcome.
Let your friends know how they can be of help to your sobriety. Good friends support you through sobriety and respect your decision. Tell them you can still have fun and hang out but not in bars or any place that involves alcoholic beverages.
Anticipate offbeat reactions
While it is relieving to know that some of your friends are in full support of your sobriety, some might express their indifference towards your decision. Perhaps the rationale for this is that your drinking buddies might miss those moments of drunkenness.
They can place pressure on you to “cut some slack” and even tempt you to drink more. They can even accuse your partner or significant other of threatening to force you to quit drinking.
It is also best to be ready for the long-term effects of your decision to stop drinking that involves:
Being squeezed out of social interactions
If your friends know that you are on alcohol detox, the chances are high that you will get fewer invites for parties and social events.
Being stigmatized in a particular way
Once alcohol is a big part of your friends’ lives, you might be branded as the “sober buddy” or the “tedious one.”
Being asked to be the getaway driver or even their primary caregiver
Once your friends acknowledge that you are the sober one, they would take advantage of the fact that you can drive them home or even take care of them at times that they are deeply wasted.
The aftermath of indifference or being mocked for alcohol may be temporary, and it may be their way of dealing with someone in their circle who does not drink.
A shift in the relationship dynamics does not have to be a bad thing. The conversation is still fun even when you are sober. Here you will also see who truly respects and values your decision and friendship regardless of your choices.
Find places that do not serve alcoholic drinks
It could take a toll in reminiscing the old days of drinking, especially when you have come across previous places like bars that remind you of old drinking habits.
Instead of stopping by bars and drinking stores, might as well opt for a stroll to the galleries, movie theater, parks, and other places that do not typically involve selling alcohol.
Instead of going to the pub, invite your peers to the cinema and hang out at cafes and restaurants. Find unique spots in your area that have a friendly experience without serving alcohol.
Going to establishments that don’t sell drinks is one of the simplest ways to stop drinking and avoid having to justify yourself. Look for alcohol-free outlets in your community—from supermarkets to local theaters; there are sure to be lots of options.
As you begin this new phase of life, you will want to go out on your own. You could even ask your peers to join you in these locations to promote sober practices.
Make your go-to answers
To be somewhat more ready, compose any go-to answers about how you’ll respectfully decline a cocktail or accommodate questions about whether you’re not drinking beforehand.
Unquestionably, you are unlikely to abstain from drinking all of the time. Alcohol is commonly served at gatherings, shows, and even art exhibitions. Of course, the peers may choose to go to pubs, clubs, or other activities where alcohol is a significant draw.
If you need tips and options on how you can respectively decline in drinking, you may opt for these answers:
“I have cut back on alcohol for a while now.”
“I don’t want to drink tonight.”
“I’ve given up on drinking.”
“I’m on sobriety.”
“I’m drinking my way home, so I cannot drink.”
“It feels good taking a break from drinking, so I don’t think I’ll be drinking anytime soon.”
Carry a non-alcoholic beverage with you
Having a non-alcoholic drink on your hand is always helpful to impede the chances of being tempted to drink.
So, if you go to a restaurant that sells beer, you would be able to order a non-alcoholic drink right away.
This appears to be a simple task, and it is! You can get a diet coke, water, sweet tea, or something else you want. Instead of drinking beer, having a drink on your side will help shield you from temptations and keep you hydrated.
Carry your bottle of drink if you go to someone’s house. If you’re carrying sparkling water or a protein shake, having a beverage in your hand will deter people from giving you alcohol.
It would also make it easier to refuse if you are given a drink provided that your hands are full already of what you have.
Use a “got to go” excuse
Whether you’re out with people who are intoxicated and you’re not having fun, or if you’re tempted to drink yourself, you can leave early. The same bar or cocktail bar you used to visit while you were intoxicated could be a stimulus for you to drink again.
You can respectfully bid goodbye if you believe it’s best to say a few words before leaving. If your friends are compelling you to stay, you can come up with excuses like “I have an early morning event” or “I have prior plans in the morning.”
Optionally, if you want to be honest, you may inform them you don’t feel good with alcohol right now and that you’d like to leave.
This is entirely dependent on how much detail you want to reveal. Whatever the case may be, you all have the right to leave if you are unhappy.
Plan your day after the socialization
Go for a stroll, do some housework, or run errands. Just spend the rest of the day doing whatever you want. Having more time and energy can encourage you to continue your alcohol abstinence.
Most of the benefits of not drinking are that you will not have to spend the following day crying and getting tipsy. So make the most of the extra time by doing something fun or constructive.
Enjoy new and fun activities with your friends
Instead of hanging out in the same old pubs, you might find that you will get to know each other even better when you’re making new mementos. They may have a good time with you visiting theme parks and doing new things.
Suppose your mates are willing to do fun activities that do not include drinking. In that case, you may offer suggestions such as inviting them to a picnic, a gallery, or camping, or signing up for a course or new experience together.
Make friends with people who do not drink
Whether or not your friends helps and supports you, not drinking will lead to gaining new friends. When you go to new areas, you meet new people and possibly they don’t drink either, which is a win-win situation.
You get to form new friendships that aren’t dependent on alcohol.
When you are together with those people, you’ll probably discover that they enjoy various non-alcoholic sports, such as camping, climbing, playing video games, or surfing. You can also find that you love doing these forms of hobbies much more than alcohol-related pursuits.
You may need to shift your social circle to include people who don’t drink. This may seem challenging at first. If you’re surrounded by people who make alcohol a big part of their lives, it can feel like everyone drinks.
Reflect on your experiences
Each experience teaches you something new. The knowledge you gain will assist you in continuing to live life to the fullest.
Perceive each sober outing to be an evaluation. You can make mistakes, such as drinking when you didn’t want to or arguing with someone who gives you a drink.
However, you can find that you are happier when you are not intoxicated or enjoy interactions with others more when you are sober.
Maintaining a social life while avoiding alcohol can be difficult, but with some steps and new goals, you can encourage your loved ones to respect your decision.
There’s no point in feeling self-conscious about the decision to cease drinking. More people are becoming aware that alcohol can create a variety of issues, and they are committed to living soberly.
Despite why you plan to stop drinking, socializing sober can be intimidating. If you’re having trouble avoiding alcohol or feeling depressed and alone, try finding professional help. ]
A psychologist will assist you with your efforts to identify the right solutions for you, your fitness, and your life.