While alcohol being the most widely abused substance in the United States, our culture is slightly geared toward drinking. Even though this fact is taken lightly by most of the crowd, very few are aware of the fact that around 95,000 deaths occurred each year from 2011 to 2015 due to excessive drinking.
The involvement of alcohol is common in the concepts of socializing, going out, etc. While it’s true that not all drink to harm others or themselves, even social drinking can get you in trouble if you don’t stop it before it’s too late!
Although many think that having fun or relaxation without alcohol is impossible, our experts believe that it is totally possible to relax at home or enjoy social activities with friends, without alcohol. If you wish to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is crucial for you to educate yourself on alcoholism and how to stop drinking socially.
Apart from being a widely accepted social activity, drinking is one of the most common ways to deal with stress, sleep-related issues, and anxiety. However, in reality, alcohol does not do much to relieve such health conditions. Instead, it worsens them in the long run. Even moderate drinking can make you feel foggy, groggy, and hungover. The more alcohol you consume, the more you are likely to experience the health issues such as:
- Conflicts with loved ones
- Improved irritation, depression, or anxiety
- Difficulties in focusing
- Memory issues
- Financial problems
- Increased sleeping disorders
- Digestive problems
As such unwanted issues begin to take shape and create a threat to your everyday life, you might plan to give alcohol a break or end up calling an alcohol addiction helpline. Whether you want to cut back on drinking or go on an indefinite break, here are the tips that will help you avoid unnecessary hassles related to alcohol.
Be Honest With Your Friends
Keep in mind that you are cutting back on alcohol or avoiding it for a good reason. It is totally up to you to determine who to share this with. No matter what, you do not have to justify your decision whether they like it or not. We all make certain choices in our lives and we do not have to explain them.
If you believe that your friends are supportive enough and will welcome your decision, have a clear conversation with them. Let them know that you have decided to stop drinking and ask them to help you throughout this journey. It would be great if you have sober friends or those who can stop you if you are craving even just one drink. Or, you can still go out with the same group but not in bars. Furthermore, you can choose to enjoy similar activities such as watching movies or playing cards but without the involvement of alcohol.
The chances are, you will receive good support and motivation from friends. Much better, some of your friends may think about cutting back on their own drinking and stay sober like you.
Be Strong Enough To Tolerate Reactions From People
Every coin has two sides. While some of the people from your group will support you for your decision, there will be some who will treat you differently or negatively. Your sobriety may warn your drinking buddies about their own excessive drinking habits or your way of socializing sober may stress them a bit.
Be aware of the following possible reactions from people around you so that you are not taken by surprise and will be able to deal with them easily.
- Some of your friends may act as they are helping you to have some fun by buying a drink. Some may also encourage you to drink by saying ‘it’s just one glass of beer’.
- You may get labeled as ‘lame’ or ‘boring’. Some may make fun of you or treat you like an old person who is not able to handle even a single drink.
- You may get nagged into it. Your friends will often say things such as ‘come on, it’s just one drink and it will relax you a bit’.
- Some may get extremely uncomfortable with your unwillingness to drink. They may feel like your sobriety is trying to control their lives and you are going through a midlife crisis.
- Your entire group can try to pressurize you into drinking. They may even call the round for shots and force you to join them.
There are some long-term changes you have to keep in mind when you decide to stop drinking.
- You may notice that your friends call you for outings only because you will remain sober till the end and can drive them safely back home.
- If your friends are more into drinking and you keep hanging out with them sober, you will be labeled as a boring friend or sober friend.
- Over time, you will experience lesser invitations from your friends as they will realize that you are not going to drink no matter how hard they try to convince you.
Remember, if you are doing something good, such changes in your friendship dynamics are not a bad thing. We do not say that it will always have a bad impact on your friend circle. There is also a possibility of welcoming shifts. Means, your friends may start respecting your decisions and opinions on other things considering how strongly you are trying to quit alcohol. Or, they will realize how great it is to have conversations without alcohol.
Even if the changes do not occur in your favor, don’t panic. You may find a new group of friends who understand your priorities, or you can simply hang out with your old friends at different locations where drinks are not served.
Come Up With Some Go-To Responses
It’s hard to avoid alcohol every time. In such cases, you can tell some of the truthful and direct responses from the following:
- I have to drive tonight
- I’m cutting back on alcohol
- I’m on a break from alcohol
- I will stop drinking
- I’m preparing for an upcoming marathon
- I’m good. Just had a couple of drinks a while ago.
Have A Non-Alcoholic Drink
Having something in your hand can be very helpful for avoiding unnecessary attention. When in the bar, pick up a non-alcoholic drink from the counter as you reach there. If you are drinking at someone’s home, bring your own bottle. Fill it with water, a protein shake, or whatever you want. Just by keeping that bottle in hand, you can prevent others from insisting on drinking.
Broach The Subject
When people are forcing you and you can’t take it anymore, or you are feeling tempted to have a drink, change the topic. Talk about someone who had troubles with alcohol addiction (if not, create an imaginary one). Tell them how he or she went through different therapies, medications, and counseling at a reputable rehab and how comfortable and happy he or she is now.
Be Ready With Your Escape Plan
You may want to leave such surroundings at times, especially when you are feeling an urge to drink a glass or two. Some of the quick and easy exit excuses can save you from such troubles. Some examples,
- I’m not feeling well tonight. I think I should go and get some sleep.
- I have some other plans for tonight.
- One of my friends is waiting for me.
- I have a big event in the morning and have to wake up early.
If you are in a phase of recovery and finding it hard to avoid the craving, ask for help. Call a trusted person from your family or friends or simply visit a support group near you.
Don’t Miss Out On Having Fun
There will be a time when people around you may start accepting you as a non-drinker. However, if you keep thinking that you cannot have fun being sober, you may end up isolating yourself. This will not only hold you back from having a great time with your friends but also reinforce your and your group’s belief that we cannot enjoy things without alcohol.
You may start feeling that drunk people are irritating, nonsense, and boring over time. However, that’s not true many times as you are missing a point that they think you are also buzzed out just like them (or at least supposed to).
Being a sober person on a table, you should be good-humored about your drunk, giggly, and careless friends. Never take their opinions about your decision of quitting drinks personally. They are just expressing their thoughts and not trying to dig out unwanted things, even though it looks like that.
Never Forget Your Experiences
Every outing will teach you something new. There might be some instances when you will get into an argument with someone who forces you to drink. Or worse, you will drink a glass or two.
However, you will also notice that you are happier when you will stop drinking. Or you have a great time with friends and enjoy talking to them when sober. Learn from such experiences as they will help you create the best life for you.