Socialising Sober

Heading into social situations without drinking can be very uncomfortable when we first quit alcohol. This Sober Toolbox is a space for sharing tips on how to navigate social events, including what to say to people who question why we’re not drinking. If you're looking for more discussion, interactions and feedback, head inside our Members Feed. That's where the real-time conversations take place.

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  1. Paula 5 years ago

    That doesn’t mean you are back to square one, so don’t beat yourself up. This happens with most people. It might be helpful to go to some meetings in your area to connect with others who understand this issue. I found it very isolating and lonely when I first quit. Even if you don’t work the steps or speak up in the meetings, the people at them tend to be friendly and supportive.

  2. Anonymous 5 years ago

    When it comes to socializing sober, I used to make excuses, which didn’t make me feel good about myself. I decided to just say rather grandly ‘I never touch a drop of alcohol anymore.’ and let people draw their own conclusions. Some people will keep at it, and I don’t mind having an honest conversation about it. It depends on the person – some people want to have a real interaction, and some people would rather just have a more basic conversation that consists of small talk. I find now that I don’t drink I don’t have an interest in small talk anymore, though of course I will do it at a party to be polite.

    I find it interesting to see people’s reactions to what is in my glass. In my profession I am trained to read body language so no one needs to straight up tell me ‘I am unsettled and uncomfortable by the fact that you are not drinking’ – I can see it. Some people are disturbed by it, but most don’t care. I admit I used to be that person who didn’t want some teetotaler around, so this doesn’t offend me, I understand completely.

    It has been a real shift for me to just say I don’t drink as opposed to ‘I have to get up early’ or ‘I am on antibiotics’ (seriously, I have actually said this several times). It marked the beginning of feeling better about my choice not to drink. It seems almost rebellious to be sober now. If there are a few people who just write me off as ‘someone who can’t drink’ I really don’t mind anymore. Those tend to be those boring small-talk people anyway.

  3. MrsH89 5 years ago

    Drinking is a huge part of my social circle. Every event revolves around cocktails. While I have no desire to drink, 63 days and counting, I am feeling left out at social events….it’s getting a little better each time, but can’t wait for the day that I don’t even think about fitting in.

  4. Ladyhawke 5 years ago

    I just say “I’ve had enough drinking for my lifetime” and leave it at that.

  5. Michelle 5 years ago

    Sober October

    • sarah47 5 years ago

      Dry January, dry July, and now sober October! I like that one!

      • petaswan 5 years ago

        We have ‘September to remember, no goon June, say Nay in May, haha and the list goes on..

  6. Anonymous 6 years ago

    I am having a terrible time at staying sober. I go for 2 weeks and then I am back at it again. I HATE it! I really need a friend to help me stay on track. Please help

    • sarah47 5 years ago

      I think 2 weeks is amazing! I’m on day 4 and feel proud!

    • Alexandra 6 years ago

      You can do this. Be proud of those 2 weeks. It doesn’t make you a failure, it’s a blip, jump back though. Been there done it and now on day 3. We can do this .

  7. sober@sixty 6 years ago

    Not sure why it was ‘obviously’ non-alcoholic, but I too struggle with those comments about ‘being good’. I’ve spent a good deal of my life trying to be the ‘good girl’. Most of the social events I go to are BYOB so I always have my AF cocktails. When anyone asks “what are you drinking” I can respond, honestly, oh…Moscow Mule, or Mojito or ‘Gin” and tonic….they don’t need to know it’s AF! In fact I mixed a friend an AF ‘gin’ and tonic this summer and he had NO CLUE it wasn’t alcohol!!!

    It DOES get easier! And your response should most definitely be “YES I AM!”.

  8. sober@sixty 6 years ago

    Not sure how long you have been on the sober road, but you should find that not ‘everyone’ you know drinks. I found it very interesting to be at social gatherings and seeing how many didn’t drink. If you go out after work for ‘drinks’ you just need to find the best AF substitute for you. For me it’s ginger beer, and if they don’t have that, I ask for a virgin Mojito or just club soda with lime and cranberry juice – everyone assumes its vodka and cranberry anyway! I found in a work situation, if I got to the bar ahead of everyone else and clued the bartender into my AF path, and tipped them well, he/she would just refill my drink without me having to explain that it’s AF. Not ready to come ‘clean’ with the work folk just yet. Most were just really impressed that the bartender knew my order without having to be reminded! 🙂

  9. sober@sixty 6 years ago

    I usually just order a ginger beer. I don’t find it as fizzy as colas. I’m not a cola fan either. Most places stock them now with the popularity of the Mule drinks. I’ll also do club soda with lime and cranberry juice. Sometimes if it’s a place I know, I’ll take my green smoothie powder and ask the bartender to make it into something that looks incredibly good but AF. If only bars would stock AF spirits!

  10. mistchance 6 years ago

    Looking for ideas on alternative drinks when at pubs. I don’t like coca cola, most other splits nor orange juice. I find that I feel totally bloated after 2 drinks of fizzy like ginger ale or soda and lime, and water and lime just gets boring.
    I’m totally ok with not drinking at home, at friends and family – as can take my own flavours or just drink tea/coffee but find the pubs a different story. I play pool in the winter so find it really hard to remain sober with nothing very good as an alternative.

    • Anonymous 5 years ago

      I love club soda with lime or soda water (called different things in different countries) with lemon/lime.

  11. Eola 6 years ago

    Just a quick update on my AF life. 72 days and counting, and today have at last recovered my old running form. On average, I’ve run about three times a week, totalling about 24 miles. I’ve done this for years, booze being the only thing that prevented any progression. I’ve even stopped running altogether for long periods of up to a whole year, due to my booze and ganja intake. On February 2018 I decided to put a stop to that and started running again, that is until the good weather was back! I spent about 5 weeks drinking as if there was no tomorrow, during the summer. It was the last time I drank, by the way, and coming back to training has been slow and painful. I even doubted at some point that I could have the energy or the faith in myself to train the way I used to, but now I know I’m back. The session of today (a five miler), has been wonderful, and I felt the power return to my legs and lungs. Being sober is the best thing ever! Big hugs to all of you and kudos to @kitten. Congrats for your 72th day of freedom, buddy! 🙂 xxx

  12. Laurie 6 years ago

    Sorry to hear you are so unhappy with your sobriety. I also have 4 years. Can I ask the obvious question?.
    Are you going to meetings ??

  13. Anonymous 6 years ago

    what do i do if everyone i know drinks.. being alone all the time sounds awful 🙁

    • Travelbug 5 years ago

      Find new playmates….

  14. TJ 6 years ago

    Day 2. Done 35 days before but always alone. This is the first time I have looked online for blogs and support. Only now do I realise I have a problem that needs tackling. Something needs to change. Will probably avoid social events for a bit. Haven’t figured out what I will say when the time comes. One hour at a time right now.

  15. sobergirl 6 years ago

    I started with dry july…then abstain August….sober September….none for November…dry December. …juicy January…..fasting February. …masterful March. ..amazing April….magnificent May…jubilant June…etc

    • Soberkiwi 6 years ago

      Mmmmm…..what can we say for ‘October’….how about: Off Limit October, Omission October, One-Way October, Overhaul October……

      • sarah47 5 years ago

        Sober October!!

  16. Matt 6 years ago

    I tried all sorts of things when asked by people at events why I’m not drinking but realised that in the end the best response for me actually was as a simple truthful answer “because it makes me feel better” this also helped me feel good and sub consciously reinforce my decision to give up drinking. It’s funny, most people drink because they think it makes them feel better but I found for me it’s actually the other way around. I stopped drinking over a year ago now and the would never go back to it.

    • JBanne21 6 years ago

      Honesty, makes a body feel good

  17. SalliAnne Maliguine 6 years ago

    I’m off the sauce.

  18. Jo 6 years ago

    Love this! ❤️

  19. medje350 6 years ago

    Hey, I have only just done dry July and I am considering rolling it out into August. But just thought I would post something that I found helpful – I am new here so it may have already been mentioned before so sorry if I am repeating a similar experience from someone else.
    About two days into dry July I won a bar tab at my tennis club. I turned it down. I found that once I had turned that down it was very easy to say no to everything else for the remainder of the month. It was very easy – if you can say no to a bar tab you can say no to anything right? Anytime I needed to explain to someone why I just pointed out turning down the bar tab, people understood immediately that they could not compete with a bar tab.
    I know that I will not get offered a bar tab to say no to at the start of every month. But it got me thinking that if you are ever feeling pressured into a drink it is worth reminding yourself that in the past you have turned down alcohol in more appetising situations.

  20. sober@sixty 6 years ago

    Here’s something else I’ve found is helpful. If you have a partner that is supporting your recovery and you are together at an event, I’ve found having a ‘code’ word or phrase to help. It signals to them that you are struggling without broadcasting it to the entire crowd, and they can help you. Whether it’s to leave permanently or just take a walk to catch your breath and sanity! I use “do you have any gum” with my husband. When we are at events and I go up to him with that question he will answer, not on me, but in the car, do you want me to get it for you? Or I’ll got with you….

    • Skibabe 5 years ago

      That’s a great idea, thanks 🙂

  21. GingerBeardMan 6 years ago

    When I first gave up drinking I ordered pints of apple juice. Just looked like cider and that way I wouldn’t get asked constantly why I wasn’t drinking. It worked! No one noticed at all, it wasn’t until after a month of Tuesday darts nights that I felt I could say I wasn’t drinking and not cave in to peer pressure. But everyone was really supportive and it wasn’t an issue in the end.

    • Nowlearnon 6 years ago

      I was in my local pub yesterday all my, mates were there l was drinking diet coke, they asked me why I wasent drinking my usual cans of Strongbow cider, I said because I am going, to a fitness class, after I said this they joked around for a while, then we talked about other, subjects. After a few hours in there company I went home, to be honest the urge to have a drink was strong. I won’t go to the pub again until I’ve got more sober time, under my belt I am just glad I am sober.

      • Andymuso 3 years ago

        Thats a great idea i dont go to pubs unless in drinking

      • sober4real 5 years ago

        Great job on getting out of there and taking care of yourself. I used to hear sayings like don’t go to the barber shop if you don’t want a hair cut. Old fashioned but makes sense. I am too sick to drink right now but most of the time it’s hard to say no. If I had one it would be all over with!

  22. Anonymous 6 years ago

    Today I will face my first real challenge lunch and dinner where drinking wine is expected because that is their normal. I think I got this!!! Wish me luck!

    • sober@sixty 6 years ago

      For me most social events are a BYOB type of thing, so I find being prepared critical. I plan what ‘mocktail’ I’m going to bring and when people ask what I’m having I’ll say Moscow Mule, Raspberry Mint Julep, Mojito, etc. they don’t need to know its sans alcohol! I also steer clear of any ‘bar’ area at a function. For more intimate gatherings I let the host know ahead of time that I’m on the sober road. I offer to bring my own seltzer, etc. ‘Those that matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter’, comes to mind. I did have someone say at one event when I confessed to a small group that I was living alcohol free that “that’s no fun”. Well, I think my definition of ‘fun’ has changed. I love being able to engage in conversations and actually remember them! I REALLY love waking up without that brain fog or worse, a hangover!

    • Lakeview 6 years ago

      Good Luck

  23. Anna Correia 6 years ago

    Today is the First day of the my Sober Life

  24. luanastar 6 years ago

    65 days…not a single drop has passed my lips. My friends and family are skeptical but have been supportive at the same time. A couple of my friends think Im just having a break and in due course I will succumb to having a glass of wine. In the last couple of months I have been to concerts, dinner and spent weekends with my booze loving friends, and I didnt feel the need to drink to have a good time with them, I asked them to just continue being themselves…and that they will soon realise that I am still my funny self. I am now the sober driver and get to laugh and enjoy their company…and actually remember a good time out and about.

    • Sunnysgirl 6 years ago
    • LittleLisa 6 years ago

      This is a very helpful post. I am only at day 3 but going out with friends is a huge fear. I know most will understand, but it’s still hard as I LOVE going out for a glass(wish that were the case, usually more) of wine with my friends!!!

  25. Horsehead 6 years ago

    I am 7 days today and what usually gets me (besides emotional stressors) is the need to cut loose and with total abandon. Im hoping that riding bike or other physical activities can fulfill that need for a “fix”. That maybe adrenaline from exercise can replace the euphoric numbing of drinks with good friends

    • Tom4500 6 years ago

      If only that euphoric numbing of drinks with good friends wasn’t so fleeting, and didn’t turn into feeling so bad. I have felt what you are feeling. Those moments are hollow, although I admit they were momentarily fun. Can physical activities help? I think they help me some. Nice to see you again, Horsehead, and well done on getting that tough first week behind you.

  26. Todd 6 years ago

    I also say I cant drink due to meds Im taking…they dont need to know what the meds are…

  27. Todd 6 years ago

    I simply say I have drank enough for 1 lifetime!!!

  28. Susan Wise 6 years ago

    I learned from RecoveryElevator to play the tape visualize what would happen if I had one glass of wine

    • Horsehead 6 years ago

      Thats been helpful to me as well. I will have to exercise that visualization muscle! Im 7 days today!

  29. TAS 6 years ago

    My excuse too. Which is now true, as I take something for my depression and anxiety

  30. TAS 6 years ago

    Its daunting, but doable. Im 21 days sober. I have survived a 4th of July party, a birthday party, camping, 2 days at the beach, and a gathering at a friends. Everyone was drinking and smoking weed…it was hard but I did it. Too much at stake if I slip, even once…

  31. K b 6 years ago

    Today is the first day of the rest of my life, sober!
    I am scared. I dread socializing…..

  32. Anonymous 6 years ago

    Today I venture down the road to sobriety.

  33. Jenny 6 years ago

    Well done on 4 years! I know how you feel, I really do. That you have this problem but still have 4 years sober gives me hope. I messed up a 15 month quit for this reason. On 2 months now, and very glad, and need advice myself. I would be very grateful if other introverts or socially awkward people would post and say how they deal with this.
    I am not religious either, but I do find meditating helps me feel a lot more benevolent. I’m having an Asperger’s assessment soon, I’m so socially confused it might be the explanation, I always have been.
    I live in a small town and there are lots of things to do without alcohol, it’s just feeling so socially awkward is my problem. I go to a creative writing group and that’s it, nearly all members are women, so maybe you could try one, and I try golf 🙂

  34. Anonymous 6 years ago

    Yes you beauty this is day 3for me and I am so pleased with myself. Now I have to get myself through today. Last night I made myself a mock tail from peach and mango ice tea with a drop of ginger whilst I couldn’t taste the ginger it was refreshing. I poured my drink into my trusty ole wine glass and it worked a treat.

    Played cards during the wine o’clock time. I am proud of myself! Good luck to us all here

    • LibbyB 6 years ago

      Congratulations you! After day 4 you are going to feel amazing. You will sleep better, pee longer, your brain and liver will be starting to heal and you will feel so energetic and proud when you get up in the morning. Just remember, alcohol is poison, and you do not need or want it in your blood stream any more!

      • Hellzbels 6 years ago

        It is poison!!! And you can really feel that poison in your body,esp the day after drinking!!!

  35. Momof2 6 years ago

    Since this is new for me, and I’m not ready to tell my friends, I just say that I’m taking a break from it.
    Earlier this week, I filled my glass with what looked like it could be anything, but it was just crystal light. 🙂

    • Tom4500 6 years ago

      Good plan. That’s what I did, pretty much. No reason to hurry that revelation.

  36. Bruin 6 years ago

    Here’s the deal. I’m close to 4 years sober. Since quitting drinking I no longer have people ask me why I’m not drinking. They don’t ask me because I am never around them. I am never around anyone in a social setting where there is drinking. I play golf, but my golfing buddies that drink know I went to rehab (and needed to!)

    I drank to fit in socially. I am an introvert. Since quitting drinking I have no social life. I am 53 years old, widowed and alone. No more bars, parties. Nothing. I am a musician, and I loved to play and sing for people at parties. But parties are no fun sober. I don’t really like people that much. I got drunk so I could put up with their stupid, boring small talk. I HATE small talk. I hate sports and shallow conversations.
    I simply don’t fit in. When sober I get bored and can’t wait to leave. When drunk I am an idiot without a care in the world. (Just like the people who bore me when I’m sober.)
    I don’t want to go back to drinking. But I know that if I ever plan to find a companion I will have to.
    There is nothing to do, and nowhere to go that I can meet new (interesting) people that doesn’t involve drinking.
    I don’t go to church as I’m an Atheist. I don’t go to sporting events as I hate sports. What does that leave?

    Quitting drinking saved my life.. No doubt about it. But what kind of life is a life alone?
    I really don’t know.
    I don’t miss alcohell. I don’t miss being drunk, sick and stupid. I still fear how dark life got at my lowest point. Trust me, there is no place darker than the bottom of a bottle.
    But I do miss drinking. I really do. It was fun. It really was.

    • bexter 5 years ago

      Greyhounds as pets. Rescue a greyhound, that will stop you thinking about yourself.

    • Falldownfairyp 6 years ago

      Try an online site to meet new people who are like minded. There are plenty of sober introverts out there. Good luck.

    • LibbyB 6 years ago

      Oh Dear. You are never going to avoid people or places where alcohol is not somehow present. That’s the hold it has on people and society and how much it is being pushed on us. When starting AF it is often good to avoid situations where we may be temped, but Jason Vale in his book Kick the drink-easily, made a good point that we still have to live our lives and he did all the things, and saw all the people he did before quitting drinking. He just concentrated on the people he was with, the music and the atmosphere, and found he enjoyed it even better sober. I am 64 and 129 days AF. I am still learning to socialize AF and do have some down periods, but I make an effort to get out and about and see my friends and family. Good luck to you. You really don’t need to drink to have fun with people you like.

    • Anonymous 6 years ago

      There’s more out there than church, sporting events, and bars. In my little town there is the community players; you’re into performing arts, why not try acting? There is volunteerism. Not all volunteer groups operate through churches, but they are staffed with good people. And there is online dating. Start reaching out a little, and you’ll likely find a hand or two that reach back. And that’s all it takes.

      • petaswan 5 years ago

        Definitely volunteer, so many different activities you could meet people through. In our small town (less than 1000 people) we have turtle monitoring groups, Environmental groups, music festival groups, town festival groups, the school, triathlon groups and the list goes on. And exercise classes are a great way to meet people too. I am newly sober, but keep up with friends through exercising (runs and surfing mostly). I have a good mates 50th coming up though, that will be a challenge!

  37. Jeff 6 years ago

    I just went through a couples weekend at a rented cottage, something I was dreading as a real test of my sobriety (Day 10 for me). They’re all drinkers, as I was, and they were all surprised. I know my own drinking patterns; deep and often. So I needed a substitute. I brought a case of Fresca pop, and drank that like a fiend. It provided that liquid, sweet in the mouth sensation, calorie free, and when diluted with Soda water and squeezes of lime so I didn’t get sweeted out, it helped me get through the weekend. In fact, whenever I get that late afternoon urge to drink, that’s what I have now.

  38. LibbyB 6 years ago

    I do drink. I drink anything I feel like when Im thirsty. I just don’t like the taste of alcohol so I avoid it.

  39. Pdxallie 6 years ago

    That can be a tough one, depending on who asks the question. But some things I say is that drinking doesn’t make me feel good, I’m training for a 1/2 marathon, I feel better when I don’t drink.

  40. Anonymous 6 years ago

    Gave permission for my teen girl to attend grad. party. Know alcohol will be around. Know she’s vulnerable. She came up with a system to help. I’ve added time limits, will get her 2 to 3 hours in. She opened up to friends who don’t drink. Other protective methods. Praying and hoping she makes it. Comforted that if she doesn’t she will try again tomorrow.

  41. Kim 6 years ago

    Thats a good one im going to use your line !!!!

  42. nauldist 6 years ago

    Going to the pub to have dinner with friends
    & kids. Usually I would sink a bottle at pub and then walk home but Carry on until 12 or 1 in morning… tonight I’m not. Tonight I will get thru moments & come home without drinking. I’m feeling ok just wary & weary.

  43. Dan 6 years ago

    How did it go?

  44. DaveH 6 years ago

    “Oh, no thanks!. I don’t drink”. 9 times out of 10 that’s the end of it. Not everybody drinks. Not everybody is obsessed with alcohol… that’s just us. Most people won’t even ask why you don’t drink, they’ll just hear what you said and move on. If someone gets pushy about you having a drink then they probably heading into drinking problems themselves… but that’s their problem. Mine is to fix me, not them. Feel sorry for them, and move away. You know something they don’t. If I want problems in my life then the surest way I know to bring me to my knees is to drink again. They don’t know that yet. Most people don’t care if you don’t drink… it’s not a big deal. We make it one. We make up a problem that doesn’t actually exist.

    • oh-crap 5 years ago

      awesome. That’s right on, Dave.

  45. Claire 6 years ago

    28 days. Tomorrow it’s my turn to host a gathering of wine swilling Mum’s! Needless to say last time I was the last to leave! Very nervous about how this will go. Any advice appreciated.

  46. Anonymous 6 years ago

    I tell people I quit for my kids and my party days are over and the hangovers are not worth it!

  47. Liza 6 years ago

    Hang in there, if you can think about all of the amazing things to look forward to about a trip to Europe, will it help balance the sense of dread with excitement? In the meantime, however many days between now & then, will help with your confidence & resilience of relaxing & enjoying yourself without alcohol. Be kind to yourself in your thoughts & self-talk, you can have a blast, and think of how much more fun it will be by travelling with all of your senses sharp. And you will remember all of the great experiences

  48. SoberMo 6 years ago

    Hello! This is my first post here-i just joined! I am newly sober (again-lost count of how many times I have relapsed), and I am very nervous about my upcoming trip to Europe with my mother and sister who both drink daily and do not believe I am an alcoholic….. I DO NOT want to cave in and drink….

  49. Emptynest 6 years ago

    I usually try to keep busy ,, have joined a gym & do regular workouts that takes my mind off wine

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