By Anna McKenzie
If you’re in recovery from alcoholism or trying to curb a drinking problem, you may wonder how people have fun without alcohol. Alcoholic drinks are a staple, if not a centerpiece, of many social events and gatherings, especially around the holidays. But the truth is, there are lots of ways to socialize and have fun without drinking. All it takes is a little awareness and preparation, and you’ll be free to engage, laugh, and have an incredible time with loved ones, old friends, and new connections as you skip the spirits.
Going Alcohol-Free Is Easier than You Think
There are more options than ever to get a zero-proof drink at restaurants and social events. From seltzers and mocktails, to liquor alternatives and virgin versions of standard drinks, you can easily pick up a tasty substitute to sip on as you enjoy the occasion.
“Remind yourself that the point of being there is to see people you know, meet new ones, and have a good time. Alcohol doesn’t have to be part of the equation.”Meadows Senior Fellow Kristin Kirkpatrick
“You might be surprised that it doesn’t matter what drink you have in hand, just having a glass of something — it doesn’t need to be alcoholic — makes you feel part of the festivities,” says Meadows Senior Fellow Kristin Kirkpatrick in her book, Skinny Liver. “Remind yourself that the point of being there is to see people you know, meet new ones, and have a good time. Alcohol doesn’t have to be part of the equation.”
Here are a few pointers to remember as you venture alcohol-free:
- Pick Your Parties
In many cases, you should be able to tell by the location, people attending, and event time just how wild the party may get. You know the signs of a rager versus a gathering where people will be hanging out and drinking moderately. Choose wisely!
- Bring a Trusted Friend
If you have a friend, family member, or sponsor who can join you for certain events — especially during the holidays — that’s one of the best ways to feel comfortable as you go alcohol-free. That person can support and help you stay away from triggers in real time.
- Eat Before You Go
It’s wise to eat something before you arrive at an event so you aren’t looking around for something to fill you up. Even if food will be served at some point, you don’t want to be hungry while everyone else is drinking. Eating a little first will not only improve your mood, but help you stay sharp.
- BYO Beverage Just in Case
If you’re not sure if the place you’re going will have alcohol-free options, just bring your own soda, seltzer, or alternative. It’s likely you won’t be the only person who’s choosing something non-alcoholic.
As you stay sober, you may notice something about your friends and the activities you used to do. If they are no longer fun without alcohol, that’s a pretty good indicator that there wasn’t much substance there. This is your opportunity to enjoy some new and novel experiences, ones that are a true delight when you’re sober. Take some time to think about what you would really like to do, and try some new things. And if all your friends still very much like to drink, it may be time to consider making some new ones who have different interests.
Staying Sober Through the Holidays
The holidays can be both an exciting and stressful time for many of us. Family tension, travel issues, and old memories can all be triggers. If you’re anticipating the temptation to drink during holiday events, write down what you think your trouble spots will be. Then, make a plan for what you’ll do in each situation. Staying aware is the first step to preventing a potential relapse.
Contact a couple friends or a sponsor whom you can reach out to in the moment and ask them to be available for you. Decide ahead of time what you’ll drink during holiday events: Bring some seltzer from home, pick which mocktail you’ll go with at the company Christmas party, and get some liquor alternatives for evenings with friends.
And if things get out of control or something unexpected happens, remember that you can always leave or take a break. Remove yourself from the situation if you feel that your sobriety is in danger, and check in immediately with your support people.
Above all, the key to having fun without alcohol is remembering that an alcohol-free life is a free life.
Once you think it through, gather support, and make a plan, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to enjoy the holidays for what they are. It’s likely they may even be better than they were in the past! And if not, practice radical acceptance, and take each day as it comes.
An Alcohol-Free Life Is a Free Life
Above all, the key to having fun without alcohol is remembering that an alcohol-free life is a free life. You aren’t beholden to the bottle. You can think clearly and soak up your experiences. There are far better ways to deal with physical and emotional pain or stress, ways that don’t become problems themselves down the road. You have the freedom to choose. Before, alcohol was choosing for you, and limiting what you could do and who you could be. Now, you’re in the driver’s seat. It’s time to explore your options, try new things, and embrace your days with a clear mind and a full heart.
Need some help getting started? Let one of our trusted professionals at The Meadows Texas help you break free today. When you are no longer bound by an addiction, it’s amazing how much more fun you will have!