How to maintain a social life when you stop drinking (2023)

Being sober doesn't mean giving up your social life, however, managing sobriety in a social setting (especially when it involves alcohol) can be challenging. You may have a lot of worries about going out after you stop drinking.

  • Can I have fun without drinking?
  • How will my friends react?
  • Will I feel self-conscious without a little liquid courage?
  • Can I say "no" and stay with him?

If you're in the early stages of recovery, you'll want to stay away from any drug or alcohol situations for a while. These environments can trigger cravings and put you at risk for relapse.

If you've decided to cut back on drinking for your health, or if your sobriety is more established, social environments that involve drinking can be easier to navigate. Still, being prepared and having a plan can help you enjoy going out after you stop drinking.

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How to maintain a social life when you stop drinking (1)

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Have an honest conversation with your friends

It's up to you to decide how much information to share and with whom to share it. You certainly don't need to justify your decision. Some people drink and some don't. Everyone has their own choice to make, and no explanation is needed.

If you have good friends who are likely to support your efforts, you might decide to have a direct and honest conversation with them. Tell them you plan to avoid alcohol or are cutting back.

(Video) Tips To Socialize After You’ve Quit Drinking Alcohol

Let them know what they can do to help. Maybe I would appreciate a sober friend, or someone elsestay soberwith you when you go out or helping you resist the temptation to drink. Or maybe you still like to hang out together, just not in bars. You might still enjoy doing the same things, like playing cards or watching movies together, but without the alcohol.

I hope some of your friends will support your decision. In fact, some of them might also be thinking about cutting back on their alcohol consumption and taking inspiration from you.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction, contact theSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Hotlineem1-800-662-4357for information about support and treatment centers in your area.

For more mental health resources, check out ourNational Database of Support Lines.

Be prepared for people's reactions

While some of your friends may fully support your decision, others may seem indifferent or respond negatively. Your sobriety can serve as a reminder to your "drinking buddies" that they are consuming unhealthy amounts of alcohol, or it can generate a bit of anxiety if they feel uncomfortable socializing sober. Or they might just want you to join them because they think everyone will have more fun together when they drink.

Simply knowing some possible reactions will help ensure that you are not caught off guard and that you may face:

  • Persistent: Your friends might say things like, "Come on, can you get a drink to relax for a bit?"
  • Joke: You may be teased for being "annoying" or "dumb". Some friends might say that you can't handle alcohol or that you're getting too old to drink.
  • Engatusar: Your friends may try to act like they're doing you a favor by buying you a drink so you can "have a good time." Or they might try to convince you that if you only have one drink they won't tell anyone.
  • peer pressure: Your friends might attack you a bit and try to convince you to drink. They might even pour you a round of drinks and try to urge you to join in.
  • Comparison: An upset friend may even confront you and insist that your lack of desire to drink is a sign of something bigger, like a "controlling partner" or "amiddle age crisis.”

It's also important to be prepared for the long-term changes you may experience from your decision to stop drinking, including:

  • Gradually being removed from social situations.: You may get fewer social invites over time as your friends see that your decision not to drink isn't going to change.
  • Be labeled in a specific way: If alcohol plays a big part in your friends' lives, they might label you the "sober friend" or the "boring one."
  • Be invited to be the designated driver: You may find that you only get invited to events when your friends expect you to be their designated driver.

However, a change in your friendship dynamic doesn't have to be a bad thing. You may find change welcoming. There's always the possibility that you enjoy talking to your friends more when you're sober. And you might even find that they appreciate you more or respect your decisions.

And even if your friendships change in ways you don't like, don't despair. You can create a new circle of friends or just decide to hang out with your old friends in different places and times where alcohol is not the main focus.


Go places that don't serve alcohol

One of the easiest things you can do to avoid drinking and to avoid having to explain yourself is to go places that don't serve alcohol.

Cafes, movie theaters, museums, libraries and fast food restaurants are just some of the places that are unlikely to serve alcohol. Look for places in your community that are alcohol-free: From street markets to local theaters, you're likely to find plenty of places that don't serve alcohol.

you couldgo aloneas you begin this new chapter of your life. Or you can invite your friends to join you in these places as a way to encourage sober activities.

Develop some reference responses

Obviously, you probably won't avoid alcohol all the time. Weddings, concerts and even art galleries often serve alcohol. And, of course, your friends might want to go to bars, clubs or other events where alcohol is one of the main attractions.

To be better prepared, it's important to develop some answers ahead of time on how to politely decline a drink or handle questions about why you aren't drinking.

Depending on your comfort level and the person asking the question, you may decide to offer a straight and truthful answer. Here are some options:

  • “I decided to stop drinking for a while.”
  • "I'm not interested in drinking tonight."
  • "I gave up alcohol."
  • “I am reducing my alcohol consumption.”
  • "I won't be drinking for a while."
  • "Militarysober curious.”
  • "I'm driving tonight so I won't be drinking."
  • “I took a break from drinking and I love how I feel now. So I don't intend to start again anytime soon."

Of course, you don't have to explain yourself. A simple "I'm drinking mineral water tonight" is enough. But if you know your friends are likely to bug you, or you know you're going to run into people who are going to insist that you drink, having a few canned responses can keep you from being caught off guard.

5 Ways to Say No to Alcohol When You Don't Want to Drink


Have a non-alcoholic beverage handy

It helps to always have something on hand. So if you go to a place that serves alcohol, you might be able to order one right away.soft drink.

If you go to someone's house, bring your own drink. Whether you have bottled water or a protein shake, having a drink on hand can keep people from offering you alcohol. It will also help you to more easily refuse if you are offered a drink because you can say, "No thanks, I already had one."

I think it's funny

When you go into a situation thinking you can't have fun sober, it's probably a self-fulfilling prophecy. You may even isolate yourself or avoid having fun, which will reinforce your (and others') belief that being sober makes having fun impossible.

Go into the situation with a positive attitude and make the most of your time, even if you're the only non-drinker. In reality, you may find being sober more enjoyable than you anticipated.

Create an exit excuse

If you're hanging out with people who are drinking and you're not having a good time, or you're really tempted to drink, you're going to want to leave early. This is especially important if you're heading to a place where you've always been drinking before. The same bar or nightclub you used to frequent while drinking could be a trigger for you.

While you can simply leave or say you need to leave without offering a reason, it may be more helpful to have a written excuse to quickly get out of the situation. Some examples:

  • You have to get up early for an event.
  • You don't feel so good.
  • You have plans to find another friend.

If you are in recovery and feel especially frail or crave alcohol even after leaving your environment, seek help. Call a trusted friend or family member or attend a meeting at a nearby support group.

How can I find a support group near me?

Plan a productive morning afterwards

You may find that one of the best parts of not drinking is that you don't spend the next morning sleeping andfeeling hangover. So make the most of the time you gain by doing something enjoyable or productive.

(Video) I Quit Alcohol for 365 Days (why I’m NEVER going back)

Go for a run, clean the house, or run errands. Then take the rest of the day to enjoy your time. Having more time and energy can motivate you to continue abstaining from alcohol.

try new things with your friends

If your friends are willing to try things that don't involve alcohol, you might have some suggestions.

  • Invite them to a park, a museum, or an excursion.
  • Sign up for a class or a new activity together.

You might find that you know yourself a lot better when you're making new memories instead of hanging out in the same old bars. They can have fun exploring new places and trying new things with you.

Look for people who don't drink

You may need to change your social circle to include non-drinkers. This may seem difficult at first. If you're around people who make alcohol a big part of their lives, it can feel like everyone is drinking.

But actually, there are a lot of non-drinkers looking for non-drinking friends. You just have to find them. You may need to try new activities for meeting sober people, including:

  • Join a volunteer organization.
  • Attend events that do not serve alcohol.
  • Join social media groups for people who participate in sober activities.

As you get to know these people, you'll likely find that they do a lot of activities that don't involve alcohol, like hiking, skiing, gambling, or fishing. And you might even find that you enjoy doing these kinds of things much more than activities involving alcohol.

Developing healthy relationships in recovery

Learn from your experiences

Consider each sober outing an experiment. You might make some mistakes, like accidentally drinking or arguing with someone who offers you a drink. But you might also find that you're happier when you're not drinking, or that you enjoy talking to people more when you're sober.

Learn from each experience. The information you take with you can help you continue to create your best life.

(Video) Will Your Social Life Not Be Fun after You’ve Stopped Drinking Alcohol?

A Word from Verywell

Regardless of why you decide to change your drinking habits, socializing sober can be daunting. If you find that you have difficulty avoiding alcohol or feel lonely and isolated, considerlooking for professional help. Atherapistcan support your efforts and help you find the strategies that work best for you, your health, and your life.

What To Do If Dry January Doesn't Work For You


How to maintain a social life when you stop drinking? ›

Your friendships may change as you change your drinking, and you might decide not to see some friends as much as before. But don't let worry hold you back from doing what's right for you. You'll make new friends along the way, and many of your friends will be happy to support you.

How do you socialize when you quit drinking? ›

8 strategies for people who've decided to stop drinking
  1. Start with a personal pep talk. ...
  2. Make a plan. ...
  3. Choose a nonalcoholic beverage. ...
  4. Tune in to what's happening beyond yourself. ...
  5. Enjoy the hors d'oeuvres. ...
  6. Call a friend if you need support. ...
  7. Feel free to leave. ...
  8. Send your regrets before the event, and stay away.
Jan 15, 2020

How can I enjoy life again without alcohol? ›

4 Ways To Relax Without Alcohol
  1. Prepare ahead of time for challenging evenings. If relearning how to live life without alcohol was easy, we'd have done it already. ...
  2. Accept small amounts of discomfort as “work worth doing.” ...
  3. Rediscover what you loved before alcohol. ...
  4. Try three other things to drink.

Do you lose friends when you stop drinking? ›

Your friendships may change as you change your drinking, and you might decide not to see some friends as much as before. But don't let worry hold you back from doing what's right for you. You'll make new friends along the way, and many of your friends will be happy to support you.

How can I overcome social anxiety without alcohol? ›

Our top 5 tips for dealing with anxiety without alcohol
  1. Understand your anxiety and triggers. The first thing you can do is try to understand what it is that makes you anxious and why. ...
  2. Practice mindfulness. ...
  3. Exercise. ...
  4. Try to think positively. ...
  5. Get support.

Can I have a social life without alcohol? ›

Many people live happy lives without the presence of alcohol, surrounding yourself with like-minded people will enable you to normalize an alcohol-free lifestyle. A great way to meet other sober people is through volunteering, attending alcohol-free events or social-media groups.

Will I ever be happy again after quitting drinking? ›

When you quit alcohol, your body a chance to increase serotonin without depletion, so you may actually feel happier over time. Still, improved mental health doesn't always happen immediately or seamlessly once we remove alcohol (and that's okay). Sobriety can be the starting point for confronting mental health issues.

What is a good replacement for alcohol? ›

What to drink instead of alcohol
  • Soda and fresh lime. Proof that simple is still the best.
  • Berries in iced water. This summery drink will keep you refreshed and revitalised.
  • Kombucha. ...
  • Virgin bloody Mary. ...
  • Virgin Mojito. ...
  • Half soda/half cranberry juice and muddled lime. ...
  • Soda and fresh fruit. ...
  • Mocktails.

Can life be fun sober? ›

So yes, not only is being sober more fun but, most importantly, you can find actual joy when alcohol is not in your life. In the long run, that is so fulfilling that happiness and fun will soon be found in unexpected places.

What happens after 1 year of no alcohol? ›

Without alcohol in your life, you'll get better sleep, and wake up without a hangover. This can lead to more energy and productivity. You'll also experience long-term improvements in your health and reduced risk of alcohol-related conditions, like heart and liver complications.

How long does it take to be happy after quitting alcohol? ›

It may take a full month of not drinking alcohol to feel better. Although positive changes may appear earlier, 3 months of not drinking can not only improve your mood, energy, sleep, weight, skin health, immune health, and heart health. It can even reduce your risk of cancer.

Are non drinkers happier than drinkers? ›

Beer drinkers have better mental and physical health than teetotallers and ex-drinkers, scientists have found. Enjoying a pint or two sees people rate their levels of health and happiness more highly, according to a team at the University of Murcia in Spain.

What happens psychologically when you stop drinking? ›

The withdrawal/negative affect stage (associated with circuits in the extended amygdala): When the person stops drinking, reward circuit activity decreases while stress circuits activate. Together, these changes fuel negative emotional states such as anxiety, dysphoria, and irritability.

How to get a buzz without alcohol? ›

- Caffeinated Energy Drinks: Caffeinated energy drinks are some of the most popular functional drinks on the market. They are packed with caffeine and other stimulants, which can give you a quick buzz.

Can I cure social anxiety myself? ›

While it may seem impossible to overcome a feared social situation, you can do it by taking it one small step at a time. The key is to start with a situation that you can handle and gradually work your way up to more challenging situations, building your confidence and coping skills as you move up the “anxiety ladder.”

What is a quick remedy for social anxiety? ›

try some relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises for stress. break down challenging situations into smaller parts and work on feeling more relaxed with each part. try to focus on what people are saying rather than just assuming the worst.

Where to socialize when you don t drink? ›

15 ways to meet new people when you aren't drinking
  • Meetup. Meetup is a global site which you can use to meet new people who enjoy the same things as you. ...
  • Running clubs. Running clubs attract a variety of people. ...
  • Travel. ...
  • Making friends on dating sites. ...
  • Dogs! ...
  • Meet new people over games. ...
  • Studying. ...
  • Singing together.
Jan 10, 2021

Why do I need alcohol to socialize? ›

Many people tend to feel relaxed when drinking socially. This is because alcohol affects brain function, changing moods and behaviors. It binds to receptors in the brain that boost dopamine levels, which activate pleasure. Social drinking is part of American culture.

Can you live a fun life without alcohol? ›

Remember: you CAN have fun without alcohol

Yes, it can be daunting at first to step out sober, but ultimately you will reap the rewards – and your mental and physical health will improve, too!

How do you find joy in sobriety? ›

Surround yourself with happy people. Being around people who are content boosts your own mood. Friends and family help you celebrate life's successes and support you in difficult times. Let people know that you appreciate what they do for you or even just that you're glad they're part of your life.

What to expect after 6 months of sobriety? ›

In the first 6 months of your sobriety, your body will start getting rid of toxins in order to become healthier. By the 6 month mark, your skin appears healthier. People around you notice your eyes are clearer. You've been taking care of yourself and bathing regularly, so your hygiene has improved.

How long does depression last after you quit drinking? ›

Mood problems.

Your mood should get better within 3 to 6 weeks. Tell your doctor if it doesn't. You may need treatment for long-term symptoms or an undiagnosed mental health condition.

What gives you the same feeling as alcohol? ›

However, the fact is that exercise releases endorphins that are responsible for feelings of euphoria and happiness, just like alcohol. In fact, many people refer to a good workout as a “runner's high.” Exercise's physical and mental effects can actually mimic that feeling you get when drinking alcohol.

Is there a pill to replace alcohol? ›

Acamprosate (Campral®): This medicine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat alcohol dependence*. It helps rebalance chemicals in the brain that may be changed by drinking too much. Disulfiram (Antabuse®): This medicine was approved by the FDA to treat alcohol dependence*.

What are 10 healthy things to do instead of drinking alcohol? ›

Here are some ideas for alternative activities next time you're thinking about pouring yourself a glass.
  • Ride a bicycle.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Meet a friend for lunch.
  • Read a book.
  • Play a board game.
  • Try a new nonalcoholic drink.
  • Attend an exercise class.
  • Organize old photos, albums or books.

Can sobriety be lonely? ›

Sobriety brings about many changes in a person's life. The vast majority of them are improvements, but many people in recovery experience one negative change: loneliness. Loneliness in sobriety is common–and a risk factor for relapse. Fortunately, there are also many ways to address it.

Do I have to be sober forever? ›

Wondering if you have to stay sober forever is a common debate after leaving rehab. Thinking about forever can be overwhelming. But, in reality, you can stay sober for the rest of your life, but some people might find it easier to focus on it one day at a time. After all, recovery is all about taking the first step.

Why sober life is the best life? ›

A sober life allows you to cultivate a deep and meaningful relationship with yourself. You learn new skills, interests, and learn just how much you can overcome when you put your mind to it. This is one of the most beautiful things a sober life can offer you.

Is it ever too late to quit drinking? ›

It's never too late to stop drinking. The process can challenge your mind and body. When done safely, though, cutting alcohol out of your life can help make you a happy and healthier person. You can repair your body and avoid risks linked to drinking.

How long after quitting drinking does liver heal? ›

After abstinence from alcohol for 2 to 3 weeks, hepatic steatosis completely resolves and liver biopsies appear normal when examined by electron microscopy.

What a month without alcohol really does to your body? ›

Summary. Across the month, your body is likely to have benefitted greatly from giving up alcohol. Better hydration and improved sleep will have increased your productivity and daily wellbeing. Your liver, stomach and skin will also have benefitted from not dealing with alcohol.

Will I lose belly fat if I stop drinking alcohol? ›

If heavier drinkers remove alcohol for a longer period of time, they might see weight loss, improvement in body composition, less stomach fat, improvement in triglycerides (one of the fat particles in the blood),” she said.

What happens on day 4 of no alcohol? ›

However, by day 4 without alcohol, most people will have got beyond any initial withdrawal symptoms. All the alcohol will have left your system by now, and your body will begin to bounce back. If you're not as focused on alcohol, you may be eating better, drinking water, moving more, and perhaps sleeping more deeply.

What to expect at 4 months sober? ›

I have time for self-care. I'm able to give myself what I truly need with more consistency. Without the intoxicating fog of a few drinks (and it was almost always a few), my body's signals come in much clearer. I can now generally distinguish whether I'm hungry, thirsty, tired, stressed, or stir-crazy.

Is life more boring without alcohol? ›

It's pretty normal to feel bored in early sobriety, but it's kind of related to not being used to feeling calm or peace. The feeling of things being too quiet or empty does pass. Don't be scared. I promise you will have so much fun in life without alcohol.

Who lives longer an alcoholic or non alcoholic? ›

And the meta-analysis published in JAMA Network Open that involved 107 studies with more than 4.8 million participants also found no longevity benefit for drinkers. This research showed that people who have one or two drinks a day have essentially the same risk of dying prematurely as people who've never had alcohol.

Why do drinkers live longer than non drinkers? ›

The chances of survival for heavy drinkers are low, on average. Moderate drinkers, on the other hand, tend to have increased life spans. Moderate alcohol consumption improves your health and reduces the risk of deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases by almost half.

Can your brain recover after years of drinking? ›

Recovery of brain function is certainly possible after abstinence, and will naturally occur in some domains, but complete recovery may be harder in other areas.

Why am I so emotional when I quit drinking? ›

While the early months of the alcohol recovery timeline can bring about many positive changes, they can also feel like an emotional rollercoaster. Your body and brain are healing, and without the numbing qualities of alcohol, it's natural for intense emotions to arise, including anger.

Can alcohol brain damage reversed? ›

Thankfully, some of the changes in the alcoholic brain are due to cells simply changing size in the brain. Once an alcoholic has stopped drinking, these cells return to their normal volume, showing that some alcohol-related brain damage is reversible.

What can I do instead of drinking to relax? ›

Five ways to relax without alcohol
  1. 1) Read a good book. Sounds obvious I know but it's one I often put off in favour of scrolling through my phone. ...
  2. 2) Take a long bath. Baths are often my go-to way to relax without alcohol. ...
  3. 3) Get outside and go for a walk. ...
  4. 4) Practice yoga or any exercise you enjoy. ...
  5. 5) Meditate.

Why do I feel drunk without drinking? ›

Auto brewery syndrome is also known as gut fermentation syndrome and endogenous ethanol fermentation. It's sometimes called “drunkenness disease.” This rare condition makes you intoxicated — drunk — without drinking alcohol. This happens when your body turns sugary and starchy foods (carbohydrates) into alcohol.

What is the best tea to replace alcohol? ›

Kombucha is one of the easiest, most popular alternatives to alcohol on a night out because of its intense flavor and sparkle. A glass of non alcoholic kombucha swaps alcohol for tea's unique caffeine + L-theanine balance. Plus, kombucha is a chance for homebrewers to geek out and make their own.

Why do I shut down in social situations? ›

Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder where a person is unable to speak in certain social situations, such as with classmates at school or to relatives they do not see very often. It usually starts during childhood and, if left untreated, can persist into adulthood.

What is the root cause of social anxiety? ›

Some of the most common causes of social anxiety include: Poor self-esteem or lack of confidence. Negative core beliefs about oneself. Inefficient coping skills.

What happens if social anxiety is left untreated? ›

Left untreated, social anxiety disorder can control your life. Anxieties can interfere with work, school, relationships or enjoyment of life. This disorder can cause: Low self-esteem.

What medication helps with social anxiety? ›

Sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), and venlafaxine ER (Effexor XR) are FDA-approved medications for social anxiety disorder. Non-medication treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and support groups, may be helpful in relieving anxiety symptoms.

How do you have fun when you don't drink? ›

Here are some ideas for alternative activities next time you're thinking about pouring yourself a glass.
  1. Ride a bicycle.
  2. Go for a walk.
  3. Meet a friend for lunch.
  4. Read a book.
  5. Play a board game.
  6. Try a new nonalcoholic drink.
  7. Attend an exercise class.
  8. Organize old photos, albums or books.

Is life less fun without alcohol? ›

What all these sober people have in common is that they feel life is more fun without alcohol. And that's not so hard to believe, because giving up drinking – or drinking less – has many benefits: you sleep better, lose weight, are less irritable, skin health improves, you become fitter and save money.

What I noticed when I stopped drinking? ›

Improved energy levels and better sleep

If you stop drinking completely, one of the first things you notice should be improved energy levels, better sleep and finding it easier to wake up in the morning. Regular drinking can affect the quality of your sleep making you feel tired and sluggish during the day.

Will I ever have fun without alcohol? ›

Remember: you CAN have fun without alcohol

Yes, it can be daunting at first to step out sober, but ultimately you will reap the rewards – and your mental and physical health will improve, too!

What are the three P's of sobriety? ›

To change something in one's life—no matter what it may be—requires awareness, motivation, commitment and WORK. (You can throw in the 3 Ps as well… Practice, Patience, and Persistence.)

What are the three pillars of sobriety? ›

A major tenet of a successful drug addiction treatment program is to overcome the stigma of substance use disorder with empathy, knowledge, and understanding. These align well with the three pillars: Therapy, Support, and Education.

What are the fruits of sobriety? ›

SERENITY, Courage and Wisdom might be termed the Three Fruits of AA Sobriety. They are the result, ordinarily, of sustained effort and progress in practicing the program.

What can I replace alcohol with to sleep? ›

Alternatives to Alcohol for Sleep
  • Tea or Sparkling Water. The oral fixation of sipping a liquid can be an issue for frequent drinkers. ...
  • Take a Shower or Bath. Hot water over the skin can open your pores and stimulate the senses. ...
  • Music, TV, and Books. ...
  • Take a Walk. ...
  • Have a Chat.
Jun 4, 2018


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