When you quit drinking alcohol, no matter the reason, one of the hardest things to overcome is how to spend time with your friends and loved ones. So many social gatherings involve alcohol, not just parties. Going to the beach or lake, having dinner parties, or attending a cousin’s wedding; they all inevitably have alcohol. While you will learn how to say no and not partake no matter where you are, it can be helpful to navigate these situations without feeling like you are constantly saying no to every invitation.
Be Honest With Your Friends About What You’re Comfortable With
When you first quit drinking, you probably let your friends know and turn down most invitations when alcohol will be involved. But over time, it is common to want to see people again and socialize, just without drinking. There will come a point when you are a sober friend, and navigating it requires you to be very honest with your friends about what you are comfortable with.
This tends to be different for everyone and might change throughout your sober journey. But if you can’t be around any type of alcohol at all, that is something to bring up with your friends. That way, they can invite you out to places where nobody will be drinking, and refrain from putting you in uncomfortable positions. If you get to the point where you’re fine being around people who are drinking, be honest and let your friends know that too.
Stay Away From Your Old Routines
You might have already come across this while getting sober, but when you are the sober friend around other people who drink, your routines will likely have to change. This doesn’t mean you can never spend time with your best friends again or do anything you used to love, but it might mean adjusting them a little bit so you aren’t reminded of your drinking days. This can be a little uncomfortable especially in the beginning shortly after you quit drinking.
Spend Less Time With Unsupportive Friends
You will notice pretty quickly which of your friends are supportive of your sober lifestyle and more than happy to be there for you and make changes to accommodate your new life and those who just don’t understand. It doesn’t make them bad people, they just can’t relate and aren’t able to see why it is important to you.
Unfortunately, that might mean spending less time with them, at least for a while. Being on a sober journey is not just a short-term challenge or something you try out for a little while. It is a lifelong commitment and an entirely new lifestyle. If you have friends who don’t try to understand it, then that’s a big red flag that it’s time to cut ties. This also includes people who make comments that they think are harmless but are sober-shaming you and making you feel bad for your lifestyle choices.
Suggest a New Way to Enjoy Your Favorite Activities
Another way to be a sober friend and still enjoy your life is by suggesting fun activities you can do together that don’t involve drinking or at least make it easy for you to say no to alcohol. Maybe you and your friends used to love going to the lake when you all had a long weekend off, but it used to involve a lot of sitting around and drinking.
What if you suggested this time when you go to the lake, you guys rent kayaks? It is only a slightly different activity with the same group of people at the same place, but by focusing more on the water sport and less on just sitting around getting drunk, it is much easier for you to participate.
Indulge in New Activities and Try New Things
Another great option is suggesting brand new activities that you think some of your friends would enjoy doing with you. Do you have a group of friends who love being creative? If so, you can suggest taking a local art class together or learning something new. Get a group of people together to paint, learn pottery, or do creative writing.
Think of any activity you have always wanted to do, whether it is learning to play an instrument, or visiting a local place you haven’t been to yet. Bring along some friends, and you will be able to bond and connect with them, without any risk of alcohol being involved.
Being a sober friend doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and the people who love you the most, are the ones who will be there for you and want to do whatever they can to make it as easy as possible. They don’t have to be sober themselves just to accept your choice and respect you for it.