Let’s face it – most people drink alcohol; and many of them drink a lot! If most of your friends and family drink regularly, you’re likely around it all the time, and it’s probably the center focus at their social events and holidays. If you’re sober, it can be hard to avoid. If you were a recovering drug addict, you would try to stay far away from anyone using, but almost everyone drinks alcohol. It’s not only socially acceptable, but even encouraged in many situations. Our relatives, neighbors, and co-workers drink. It’s the norm at events like weddings, dinner parties, and funerals. That’s expected, but nowadays, it’s made its way into business lunches, meetings, book clubs, school functions, fundraisers, and even baby showers and kids birthday parties. Unless you want to stay home forever, then being around people who are drinking is a part of daily life.
So how should you deal with it?
If you’re newly sober, it may take a little practice, and it gets easier with time. It also depends on your attitude, and where you are in your journey. Many people who are new to sobriety may feel like it’s not fair that they’re the only one not drinking. They feel like they’re missing out on something. At first, if you feel like you may be tempted to cave in, or you can’t handle being around drinkers, it’s okay to leave, or to bow out altogether, but you can’t do that every time. Eventually you will have to learn to be able to hang out with drinkers and feel confident staying sober.
The first thing that entered my mind when I knew I had to quit drinking was “How am I going to have fun?” I thought not drinking was going to be so boring; especially at parties. What else is there to do, right? I also worried about what people would think of me, and how I would explain that I wasn’t drinking any more, like ever.
As time went on, and I began to see all the benefits of being sober (feeling better, looking better, clearer skin , not face-planting at the end of the night- or the beginning) I realized that drinking is not all it’s cracked up to be. What’s worse than being the only sober person at the party? Being the most annihilated is worse, as it turns out. Observing other people drinking too much at social events always reinforces for me how good it feels to be sober. People watching can be very eye-opening and pretty entertaining too. I never really noticed how drunk everyone else gets until I got sober. When they start slurring their words, hugging each other every 30 seconds, and repeating themselves over and over, it makes me see how grateful I am to be coherent, and clear headed. Drunk and sloppy is not cute, that’s for sure!
I can also remember the conversations that I have, and be more present to enjoy myself in the moment . I was surprised at how many people told me that I inspired them, or that they were proud of me. There’s a lot of shame involved when you can’t control your alcohol, and I discovered that my friends respected me more for not drinking. It’s a good feeling to know that people look up to you. A few of them confided in me that they were unhappy with their drinking habits, they thought they might need help, and had trouble with moderation. Some people asked me for advice on how to quit. I think a lot of people secretly wish they could cut down or stop altogether, but they don’t know what steps to take.
Quitting is hard. When you have some sober time under your belt, you can feel proud of yourself. That makes a huge difference, in that it makes you less tempted to want to drink because you truly enjoy being sober. You may come across friends or family that feel threatened or judged by your sobriety. They might try to persuade you to drink, or put you down. Maybe they are ashamed of their own drinking, and they are now forced to face their own problems. As long as you realize that their behavior is a result of their own insecurities, you will have an easier time not taking it personally. Chances are, they are just jealous of your success. All you can do if someone gives you a hard time is continue to be positive and set a good example. This will show them how awesome it is to be sober, physically and mentally.
Once you reach the point where you feel good about not drinking, you’ll start to be able to genuinely have fun. You can be comfortable being around friends and family because you don’t have the desire for alcohol, and you know you don’t need it. You can still celebrate, toast, and join in the festivities with something non-alcoholic. Sometimes people don’t even notice that I’m having club soda with lime, or juice in a wine glass. It was a revelation for me when I found that I actually had more fun at events sober than I did while I was drinking.
Alcohol numbs your negative emotions like anxiety, fear, and self-consciousness. At the same time, it can also numb your positive emotions like joy, excitement, and contentment. Eventually, after you quit, your brain re-adjusts and begins to feel all of your feelings more vividly, the good and the bad. You become better able to experience and appreciate the time you spend with people, and become a more authentic and true version of yourself. THIS is what makes the party more fun, and makes you more fun to be around. So get out there and party! Be proud of your sobriety, and have the time of your life! -And remember it the next day!