For most of my adult life, alcohol has been a key social lubricant. Going to the pub? Get in the rounds. Going to a bar? At least two drinks beforehand. Going to a friend’s house? Better bring a six pack of pre-chilled beer.
When I gave up drinking over the Christmas break, I could force myself to say no to the free-flowing wine around the dinner table each night and the glasses of Champagne as a pre-dinner drink. But New Year? I didn’t trust myself. I bailed out from the party invitation, watched a film and stayed home.
But I woke up on New Year’s Day feeling genuinely good about myself.
Venturing out sober
The hardest thing I’ve found about going out sober is the first ten minutes. Standing at the bar. It’s a small sentence, ‘do you have any non-alcoholic beer?’ but it’s a treacherous one. It’s hard to formulate when you’re surrounded by not only everything you used to drink, but also the potentially to drink and let the day’s hardships drift off in an alcohol-induced haze.
But once I actually asked (and most of the time they say yes), the difficulty was gone. The precedent was set, I was drinking non-alcoholic beer. And that’s what I like about it so much, especially when a bar stocks a good one. It takes away the desire for alcohol because, for me, it’s not the desire for alcohol at all – it’s the desire for a cold, beery drink.
That comments, oh the comments
‘Are you sure you want the non-alcoholic one?’
No one would ask if you were sure you wanted the chocolate ice cream rather than the mint. Or if you were sure if you wanted the four cheese pizza over the pepperoni. But still, this question comes up a lot.
At first I used to say yes with an apologetic air as if to yes, ‘yes, I’m know I’m a loser, but I’m a sticking to alcohol free.’
But after a string of nights where I left when everyone starting falling over bar stools and spilling their drinks, I stopped apologising. I had fun going out, but drinking was not the reason.
How to go out when you’re sober
- Commit to not drinking – This might sound obvious, but when you’ve set your mind on only ordering non-alcoholic drinks, it’s a lot easier to avoid the temptation of just ordering alcohol. If you go out unsure as to what you’ll end up drinking, you’re much more likely to just cave in and order a regular beer.
- Have a reason for yourself – Just why are you not drinking? Is it that you’re sober? Is it that you want to wake up tomorrow after having slept well and have a productive day? Whatever the reason is, make sure you have one. This will help when the inevitable temptation creeps up.
- Have a reason for others – It’s annoying to have to justify yourself and your choices to other people but it’s also inevitable. If you’re in an environment where drinking is the norm, you’ll always have people question why you’re not drinking. Some non-drinkers choose socially acceptable excuses like saying they’re on antibiotics, saying they’re driving or saying they have to get up at the crack of dawn. Others choose the truth, ‘I don’t drink,’ or ‘I’m not drinking today’. Either way, umming and ahhing will allow others to put more pressure on you. A point blank, ‘no thanks, I don’t drink,’ often works the best.
A really great video on this is from the huge YouTube channel Charisma on Command.