When I stopped drinking six years ago, I wasn’t sure how I was going to navigate social situations. Alcohol is a part of so many occasions, and I didn’t completely realize that until I removed alcohol from the equation. I wasn’t going to stop socializing altogether, so I came up with some strategies to be able to comfortably attend functions where alcohol was served. It wasn’t easy at first, but as time has passed, it’s become second-nature.
- I found non-alcoholic drinks I enjoy. If I’m out with friends in the evening, I order a club soda with lime and maybe a splash of cranberry juice. If I’m going to a party at someone’s house, I bring flavored seltzer. I meet people for coffee now instead of drinks.
- I learned to say, “I don’t drink.” It felt weird at first because I had been a drinker for a long time. But the more I said these words, the easier they became to say. And I told everyone I socialized with on a regular basis because they needed to know I wasn’t going be downing dirty martinis anymore.
- I don’t expect other people not to drink in my presence. If you want to have a cocktail, that’s none of my business. For me, being around alcohol or people who are drinking alcohol is a non-issue. I thought at first I might need to totally avoid situations where others were drinking, but I came to realize that my choice NOT to drink had nothing to do with anyone other than me. I do have some former “drinking buddies” I see less frequently now, but I think it’s because drinking was the bulk of what we had in common.
- I focus on conversations, activities, and connections. When I drank, I was often preoccupied with the alcohol. When I was few drinks in, it was harder to really pay attention to what I was doing or what other people were saying. Now, I can focus on the conversation more intently. I can enjoy more fully whatever activity I’m engaging in. The haze of alcohol isn’t muting my life, and that’s pretty rad.
- I choose to have fun! Regardless of where I am, who I’m with, or what we’re doing, I relax and have a good time. For years, I thought I needed alcohol for that, but once I quit drinking, I saw that I was fully capable of sober shenaniganing. And you know what? Things are often even MORE fun now that I can remember exactly what I did. Shocking!
I think it’s important for me to state that I was not alcohol dependent. I drank too much and needed to stop, and these are strategies that worked for me personally. Things that work for me might not work for someone else. We all have to find our own strategies and trust our own individual processes. And if you feel you are alcohol dependent, please speak with a doctor or other trusted professional.
I wasn’t sure when I stopped drinking if it would “take.” For me, it was only a matter of making up my mind and changing my habits. My new habits have gotten me six years down the road – that amazes me sometimes! Today and probably tomorrow, I don’t drink.
But I’ll meet you for a latte any time.