How Sobriety Can Affect Your Social Life
Updated: Nov 20, 2019
This is a topic that comes up a lot when discussing sobriety. It's definitely at the top of the list of reasons why people find it hard to quit drinking. For me, this was a huge hurdle. I had worked in the nightlife/bar industry for years so nearly all of my "circle" were drinkers. I was also in a relationship with somebody who was a heavy drinker, and so was his family. All of my social activities revolved around drinking. I literally could not fathom what my life would be like without alcohol. I was so terrified about what my friends would think, what my family would think and how much my life would change if I made this decision. I was scared of having FOMO and hated the idea of not being invited to social events because of my sobriety. Here are few key takeaways I learned.
1. People who truly care about you will be 100% supportive.
This is where we begin to filter through our relationships and take a good hard look at each one individually. When drinking or so long, we sometimes don't question how it affects our friendships. True tests come when we remove alcohol and see how other people react to our sobriety. The #1 lessoned I've learned is that people who truly care about you will always respect and SUPPORT your growth.
I like to use the example of my sisters bachelorette party this past year. I was only 1 month into my sobriety when I attended my sisters bachelorette party in Aspen, Colorado. I was a little nervous because this would be my first time in a very social setting, where drinking is assumed and a party would most definitely be happening. I went into it strong in my decision to not drink. There was no question about it, and this is important. If you aren't 100% firm in your decision to not drink going into situations like these, the chances of you caving are much greater.
When we arrive in Aspen, we were greeted with a fridge full of champagne (about 10 bottles to be exact) and 2 handles of Tito's vodka. I surprisingly was not tempted and when all of the girls arrived we prepared for a champagne toast to celebrate the bride to be. This was my moment to have everybody together in the room and make a firm statement of my intentions to remain sober for the entire trip. This was my opportunity to see each persons response and behavior and judge my comfort level around this specific group of people.
They were all understanding adults so there was 1. No questions asked 2. No pressure 3. 100% support in my decision.
This made my intentions clear and set my standards/ boundaries for the rest of the trip. This brings me to lesson #2
2. Be aware of your environment and SET BOUNDARIES.
This is SO extremely important. People who drink, don't want to drink alone. Let me tell you from experience that by you choosing to not drink, it will bring up insecurities in others and make them question their own relationship with alcohol and a lot of people do not like this. This is why people will try to pressure you into drinking and try to get you to "join the party". This is where you need to set clear boundaries with yourself and with others. Make the FIRM decision not to drink, and make it known to others. If you do this, and people still insist on pressuring you to drink- leave. That's a clear sign of disrespect in my eyes and won't be tolerated.
3. Being sober doesn't exclude you from social activities, it just creates new ones.
I love this idea. I used to be worried about losing my social life. In reality, you don't lose your social life, but a whole new one begins! Instead of spending your Friday nights in a bar, you start discovering new activities like hiking, camping, going to art exhibits, paint night, sitting around the campfire with friends or playing games. You just find new ways of doing things, and it's just as fun! BONUS: you get to hold on to the memories of your night. BONUS BONUS: No hangover!
Instead of going to a bar for drinks for a first date, try a coffee date, breakfast date, or a walk at the park/hike. It's all about trading your unhealthy habits for new, positive and beneficial ones.
4. Have confidence in your sobriety. Realize that "sobriety isn't a limitation, it's a SUPERPOWER."
It's not easy being sober. We have so much societal pressure to be a part of the crowd by drinking. Most people are confused or terrified by the idea of giving up alcohol. It takes strength, character and a ton of self awareness to be sober. You are going against the current and choosing not to conform to societal norms. People may be confused by it at first and want to ask questions, but will likely and up admiring your courage and strength. It truly is a superpower, OWN IT.
5. You aren't obligated to explain yourself.
Please remember this. You don't owe anybody anything. Especially when it comes to your sobriety. You don't need to explain all of the reasons you want to give up drinking. You don't need to tell everybody all the time about your history or journey. Remember that the concept of sobriety is foreign to a lot of people, and a lot of people won't understand your decision. That is OKAY.
6. You can still have fun without alcohol.
I will admit, it is different in the beginning. A lot of us (myself especially) have used alcohol at one point or another to help cope with insecurities. Mainly in social situations where we don't feel comfortable being ourselves. Being sober is a whole new learning experience for us. We are learning who we are and who we want to be. We no longer have our security blanket or "buffer". We are raw and vulnerable. We are fully us, and learning how to embrace that without alcohol. In the beginning, social events may feel awkward, or intimidating, but I promise, it gets better over time. Just be gentle with yourself and also realize it's okay to not always be the life of the party. It's okay to sit back, relax, observe, be present etc. We need to stop having so many expectations of "how we should act" when we are around other people and learn how to start feeling okay just being ourselves. You can still dance, you can still act goofy, you can still have FUN.
This is a big fat journey of re-learning ourselves. Our TRUE selves. It can be super uncomfortable at times but is so worth it in the end. We are strong, capable and determined beings who are in control of our sobriety! Together we can do anything.
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