If you’re anything like I was when I quit drinking almost 4 years ago, one of your first thoughts that crosses your mind when you imagine quitting drinking is: “How will I have fun without alcohol?”
And, it’s a fair question. Especially when you take a moment to consider when alcohol first came into your life. How old were you when you started drinking? I was about 16 years old when I had my first drink. My brain wasn’t yet fully formed, and I had no idea who I was or who I wanted to be. Since that first drink, alcohol and fun seemed to go hand in hand. My childhood days of carefree joy and wonder quickly devolved into teenaged alcohol-soaked parties, football games and get togethers. And before I knew it, throughout my college years and 20’s, alcohol was ever-present in my life.
I couldn’t imagine a concert without alcohol. I couldn’t imagine a birthday party without alcohol. I couldn’t imagine a vacation without alcohol. It was a movie and popcorn situation, and it wasn’t until I stopped drinking that I realized I was drinking more out of habit than true desire. It was all I had known, and I could have easily gone the rest of my life assuming that was the only way to live, and that alcohol was a necessary component of having fun.
Now at almost 4 years sober, I’m happy to report one of my favorite findings: Alcohol was never the key to having fun, and it’s actually really good at stealing it.
Why Choose the Zero Alcohol Lifestyle?
If you’re reading this post, it’s safe to assume that you already have your own reasons to choose a life without alcohol. Maybe you’ve felt that you’ve outgrown alcohol, or maybe you’re just sick and tired of being tricked by alcohol time and time again. I totally get it, and I’m so proud of you for advocating for yourself and setting out to discover who you are without alcohol.
If you’re not sure where to start, I shared this post on How to Quit Drinking Alcohol and Live More just for you.
The Physical & Mental Benefits of Cutting Out Alcohol
Where do I begin? The benefits of cutting out alcohol are endless, and impossible to list all here. Instead, I’ll focus on a few of my favorites.
- Reduced risk of stroke, heart attack, liver disease and cancer
- Decreased anxiety
- Better and deeper sleep
- Improved digestion and gut health
- Balanced moods
Common Challenges & Ways to Overcome Them
- FUTURE TRIPPING AND HOW TO AVOID IT. So often, I’ll hear from women who are worried about the vacation to Mexico they have coming up in 3 months, their cousin’s wedding in the fall, or their 40th birthday party in 6 months. Future tripping can cause stumbling blocks that, in reality, can be avoided. It’s so important to come back to NOW and what you know to be true. How do you feel without alcohol? What have you learned about alcohol and how you’ve used it to cope/numb/escape? Keeping coming back to what you know, and you will be well on your way to a full life without alcohol. This is a practice, and the more you do it, the more it will become second nature.
- FOCUSING ON OTHER’S OPINIONS. If you’re worried about what other’s will think about you not drinking, you’re not alone. This is one of the most common challenges I hear from women, and I get it. As much as we would like it to, peer pressure doesn’t go away in adulthood. What might help you? Remember that anyone’s reaction to your sobriety has very little to do with you, and almost everything to do with her own relationship with alcohol.
How to Have Fun without Alcohol
How to Socialize without Alcohol
I have one wish when it comes to socializing: Can we all please admit that we all suffer from social anxiety, even if just a little bit? Can we stop pretending that we’re too cool for school and don’t have mini panic attacks trying to figure out what the parking situation will be, or whether the party will be a shoes on or shoes off situation?
I used to think that a glass (or two) of wine as I got ready for a party would help me relax and be more “myself” once I get to the party. Did it actually turn out that way, though? No. Rarely. Drinking to avoid social anxiety is kind of like eating spicy foods to avoid heartburn. Not only is it not going to work, it’s going to make it worse. If you’ve ever said or done something at a party after drinking and felt the massive weight of shame and anxiety, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Wouldn’t it be much better to remind yourself that you’re able to withstand 15 minutes of awkward small talk and silence when we first get to the party? (Spoiler: yes.)
Socializing without alcohol is a practice and it gets much easier the more you do it. The first time, you might feel like you don’t know what to do with your hands. (This is where a yummy mocktail comes in!) Or, you might feel like the center of attention and all eyes are on you and the fact that you’re not drinking ethanol. (This is probably in your head. Remember, you aren’t the starring role in anyone’s life but your own. How great is that??)
DATE IDEAS THAT DON’T INCLUDE ALCOHOL
- Go on a coffee date at your favorite local cafe
- Take a cooking class
- Go on a neighborhood walk
- Go to a hot yoga class
- Get a couples massage
- Go for a bike ride
- Take a dance class
- Go ice skating
- Go to a trampoline park (No, for real. Even without the kids. It’s so fun.)
The Best Non-Alcoholic Drink Options
When I first quit drinking, I quickly realized the variety available in sobriety. No longer was I drinking the same drink (red wine) over and over, but I found myself drinking 3, sometimes 4 different drinks in a night. How fun, right? I’m often asked my favorite mocktails, so I created an ebook sharing 21 of my favorite recipes!
Here are some of my favorite Non-Alcoholic brands:
Tips for Navigating Social Events
My biggest tip for navigating social events in early sobriety is to DECIDE. Don’t wait to see how you feel when you get there. Don’t wait to see if your best friend is drinking, or not. Don’t wait to see if they have any non-alcoholic options beside sparkling water. Instead, decide that you will give yourself a chance to see that alcohol was never the magic.
Now that you’ve decided, bring your favorite mocktail with you and have your response to: “Why aren’t you drinking?” planned out and ready to go.
How to Respond When Someone Asks Why You’re Not Drinking
- “I’ve recently realized that I’ve outgrown alcohol.”
- “Alcohol really messes with my sleep, and I need sleep.”
- “Alcohol makes my anxiety so much worse.”
- “I’ve decided to give this alcohol-free thing a try and so far I’m really loving it.”
How to Maintain a Zero Alcohol Lifestyle
You’re ready to give yourself a chance without alcohol. I’m so proud of you! The most important part of maintaining a zero alcohol lifestyle is having a supportive community of women who understand everything you’re going through and feeling and who have been there themselves. If you don’t have an IRL community, never underestimate the power of an online community. I created The Sober Mom Life Cafe for this exact reason.
Sobriety Resources & Support
If you found this post helpful, you will love my podcast, The Sober Mom Life. I share insights like these and more each week, and share women’s stories who have found freedom in sobriety and have learned how to have fun without alcohol!
Here are a few of my favorite episodes of The Sober Mom Life podcast:
The Sober Mom Life Cafe is open to women only! We have Zoom Peer Support meetings every day of the week except Saturday, an exclusive Discord chat, monthly Quit Lit book club meeting and so much more. 🖤