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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443 Comments
  1. SalliAnne Maliguine 2 years ago

    I’m off the sauce.

  2. Jo 2 years ago

    Love this! ❤️

  3. medje350 2 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.

  4. sober@sixty 2 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 2 years ago

      That’s a great idea, thanks 🙂

  5. GingerBeardMan 2 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 2 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.

      • sober4real 2 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!

  6. Anonymous 2 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 2 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 2 years ago

      Good Luck

  7. Anna Correia 2 years ago

    Today is the First day of the my Sober Life

  8. luanastar 2 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 2 years ago
    • LittleLisa 2 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!!!

  9. Horsehead 2 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 2 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.

  10. Todd 2 years ago

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

  11. Todd 2 years ago

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

  12. Susan Wise 2 years ago

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

    • Horsehead 2 years ago

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

  13. TAS 2 years ago

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

  14. TAS 2 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…

  15. K b 2 years ago

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

  16. Anonymous 2 years ago

    Today I venture down the road to sobriety.

  17. Jenny 2 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 🙂

  18. Anonymous 2 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 2 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 2 years ago

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

  19. Momof2 2 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 2 years ago

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

  20. Bruin 2 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 2 years ago

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

    • Falldownfairyp 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 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!

  21. Jeff 2 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.

  22. LibbyB 2 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.

  23. Pdxallie 2 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.

  24. Anonymous 2 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.

  25. Kim 2 years ago

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

  26. nauldist 2 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.

  27. Dan 2 years ago

    How did it go?

  28. DaveH 2 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 2 years ago

      awesome. That’s right on, Dave.

  29. Claire 2 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.

  30. Anonymous 2 years ago

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

  31. Liza 2 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

  32. SoberMo 3 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….

  33. Emptynest 3 years ago

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

  34. DeKomP 3 years ago

    What your not drinking ?
    Hmm no thanks !
    how come ?
    I was rapidly becoming a Pisshead,
    Oh hows that then ?
    Do you know when you go out and you always see a gang of the same people getting drunk.
    Well I realised ! I was one of them ,and I thought time to stop ,and I did simple as that !

  35. Kit 3 years ago

    Put a positive spin on it: “yes, I’d love a drink!” “I’ll have 3/4 club soda, 1/4 cranberry juice, on the rocks with a twist of lemon! Thank you!”

  36. Willow7 3 years ago

    Good luck. My thoughts are with you. It’s hard when you have family that drinks, especially when you are used to drinking together.

  37. SoberSandy 3 years ago

    I’m just honest and say I don’t drink alcohol anymore and I feel so much better since I gave it up. It’s a personal response and no one can question how I feel. Good friends will be pleased for you, drinkers will go on the defensive because it makes them question their habits. I know what to expect now and feel more confident each time I am asked why I’m not drinking.

  38. jilloc84 3 years ago

    I just say “no thanks” when someone offers me a drink. If they ask why, i say I don’t drink. If they ask why again, I tell them I used to drink too much so I quit. It’s not that it’s impolite, offensive or insensitive for people to pry as to the reason you won’t accept a drink or shot–it used to weird me out when people wouldn’t drink in social situations–BUT, I think it’s an easy, simple way to let someone know 1) The truth 2) Sometimes people don’t drink because…they’re alcoholics. It’s not always cool to insist someone have a drink with you or to ask a million follow up questions as to why they chose to abstain.
    If someone keeps pushing you or making you uncomfortable, it’s time to remove yourself from the situation and sometimes even remove yourself permanently from a group of friends. Kinda sucks, but not nearly as much as sticking around and having a crappy time–or worse, relapsing.

  39. Cranberry 3 years ago

    I’m thinking of saying, “Alcohol acts like a depressant on me. I’m happier and I’m more productive when I don’t drink.”

    • DaveH 2 years ago

      You don’t have to justify not drinking.

  40. Anonymous 3 years ago

    Some comebacks … I have developed an allergic reaction to hangovers… I choose life! Saving money to buy a mansion. Starting a retirement fund. Tired of being broke and living month to month….

  41. Hitman 3 years ago

    I am yet to deal with this one. My Dad drinks and all we have ever done is drink together when i go to visit him. This weekend I will be telling him I’ve knocked booze on the head.
    All of my social situations involve alcohol so i also am asking this question of myself. I have a session at CADS next week so will be good to run it past the councellor.

  42. Lexi 3 years ago

    This is a tough one for me. Most of my friends are drinkers and the main thing we did together was drink… So when I say “no” to alcohol they treat it like a very temporary thing. Like, “Okay, well let me know when you’re done with this non-drinking thing.” My friends unknowingly minimize what I’m trying to do and my accomplishments to date. Just writing this makes me realize I may have to let these types of friends go. I need to seek out those friends that still support and form real, richer relationships. It’s a challenge I’m not ready to face. Need to focus on me right now – worrying about socializing and friends will need to be put on the back burner. At least it’s cold and getting dark early. I tend to hibernate in the winter anyhow so I guess good timing!

    • Dive4Pay 3 years ago

      I am in a similar situation , sometimes you have to thin the herd

  43. JJR 3 years ago

    I have been saying that I’m not drinking for my health and alcohol is a little like chocolate for me, it’s just much easier for me to not have any than it is to just have one. Almost everyone I said that to nodded in agreement.

  44. Rain 3 years ago

    I need some help with this one. It’s early days yet and I’ve only had 1 occasion that I’ve been offered a drink. I said I was on antibiotics, and that worked fine. But the holidays are coming up and I want to have a few other valid sounding excuses. Not quite ready to get into detail with people about the real reason I’m not drinking. Any advice? Thanks in advance!

    • R51 3 years ago

      How about “I’m saving my holiday calories for dessert”

    • Sammy 3 years ago

      Try , I have had a bit of a health scare or I need to lose weight

  45. Anonymous 3 years ago

    ALWAYS having someone hold my drink when I go out to smoke or go to the restroom at concerts & other public events. Don’t want to pick up the “wrong” drink by mistake or take the chance (and I’ve heard this before) of somebody tainting my beverage.

  46. Bjohn 3 years ago

    Hi Pipi, I am not proud to admit that I was once over zealous in wanting others to drink with me. Now that I have embarked on an alcohol free life style I realize how it was my own need to feel affirmed in my own drinking that motivated me to try to be persuasive.

  47. Anonymous 3 years ago

    “I’m running a Marathon tomorrow, so I’d rather stick to soft drinks”

  48. Angie Lewis 3 years ago

    “I have an ulcer (acid reflux) and I had to cut out alcohol – period”. This is true for me and makes it really easy.

  49. AnonAlcoholic 3 years ago

    “It doesn’t serve me anymore”. I like that one. Simple, and honest without revealing that by “serve” you mean that in fact, you weren’t in charge of it… and that is the best reason to quit.

    • Lilliane 2 years ago

      Good one.

  50. Anonymous 3 years ago

    I’ve been struggling with this and sadly talking to my toxic family.

    This online community is a good start for me

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