How to Go Out When You’re Staying Sober

Published On 06-March-2020
By Tim Wood

Being sober while socialising can increase chances at finding and maintaining deep, meaningful connections with other people. The interactions are more authentic and are not reliant on a shared history of drinking.

There will also be none of the faux pas moments and fallout that had been caused by a lack of inhibition. No more blackouts leaving you uncertain what took place.

Sober means being able to make rational decisions. Positive social interactions are also proven to make it easier to remain sober.

Studies into what provided the best support for a sober living have shown that “key factors reported were social and community support”. [1]

 Genuine shared moments and supportive relationships are easier to create when socialising while being in complete control.

Have a drink in hand

While being sober has many known benefits, it requires being aware of your habits. When going out to meet up with people be sure to have an idea of what your night is going to look like before you ever leave your house.

Have a plan for when you are going to leave so that you do not get tempted to stay later when harder drinks might start to make an appearance. Make sure that there are alternative, non-alcoholic drinks available wherever you are going and bring your own if necessary.

A pre-chosen getaway plan will also help you feel more comfortable. No one will even notice if you have to slip out a bit early.

At first, it might be a little uncomfortable to be in social situations without the shield of alcohol, but it will be worth it because you will be able to make better decisions and fully enjoy every moment.

Have a backup plan

Choosing to create a sober identity for yourself is a huge positive change that will assist in recovery. A study by the British Psychological Society showed that:

“Findings indicate that moving from a substance using identity towards a recovery identity constitutes an important step in substance abuse treatment”. [2]

Plan to create a story for your sobriety if you feel pressured to give a reason. Make sure that you have a backup plan in place so that you can leave at a moment's notice if a strong craving hits.

There is no benefit to remaining in that situation. Allow yourself the freedom to make healthy decisions.

Have an excuse if someone asks

If you do not anticipate telling people the whole truth about why you are remaining alcohol-free then have a story in place. This is another side of planning before going out.

You want to have a good time with strangers and friends, enjoying the night without constantly worrying about feeling judged. You are also not obligated to give a reason.

However, if silence is not an option you are comfortable with then a great way to brush off any questions is with a story that explains it easily.

Being pregnant, sick, on medication, a big event the next day, and being religious are all valid explanations that people will not question.

The process to overcome alcohol cravings

Alcohol cravings can be triggered by a thought, something going on around you or they may just pop up seemingly at random though there is always an underlying trigger.

It is estimated “18 million adult Americans have an alcohol use disorder” which comes with significant cravings. [3] Being able to recognize what is triggering the craving is the first step towards creating a healthy coping mechanism to get you through them.

Be mindful of yourself and what your body is telling you as you try to figure out what your triggers are throughout each day.

Know your triggers

One way to discover triggers is to keep a written record of when they happen, what you are experiencing just prior to and during them, and how they make you feel.

That can lead to some surprising revelations. Everyone has something that can help get them through a craving, whether it is reaching out to a loved one for support or engaging in something highly distracting.

Find what healthy coping mechanism works for you and do not hesitate to use that during cravings. Over time their severity and duration will lessen, perhaps even disappearing entirely.

Avoid 'rolling your own snowball’

Being sober is a long-term decision. One of the pitfalls to avoid is after succeeding for months or even years at remaining sober there might be a temptation to take just one drink.

'You are sober so what could it hurt' is a dangerous and common thought for people in recovery. After all, if you were able to go so long without falling back then things must be fine now.

This is not true. All it takes is one or two drinks to completely lose all the progress you have gained. It is very important to remember that the reason you decided to become sober is that drinking was harming you, your loved ones, and your life.

It is scientifically proven that “self-efficacy to resist alcohol consumption in high-risk situations is associated with a higher likelihood of remission”. [4]

Awareness that sobriety is a continual process should help when you have the desire to try one drink. That one drink could undo all your new, healthy relationships. Avoid overconfidence in your own ability to resist taking a second and third drink.

Mimic others to feel involved

None of that means you should not be able to relax, hang out with friends and get a little crazy while having fun and staying sober.

You can still slot right in and pretend to be just as drunk as your friends but with the added benefits of not having a hangover in the morning and being able to experience it all with a clear head.

Strangers and even your friends can be none the wiser about your sober status if you choose to mimic their level of intoxication. You can spend more time actually having fun on the dance floor or strengthening your current relationships.

Get creative with your soft drinks

You can also get to know the amazing variety of mocktails available that have no alcohol but are still fun and look exotic. Asking the bartender to serve them in fancy glassware can also add to the illusion and make the experience easier.

You can fit right in without even having to think about the fact that you are sober and able to better enjoy the Radler Beer or Elderberry Tonic you are drinking.

Know that time will build confidence

It can be very scary to make the choice to tell your circle of drinking friends that you are choosing to be sober. Confidence will come with time and experience as you find yourself socialising in a whole new way.

Let yourself enjoy the fact that you have chosen to allow yourself to remain in control. Being nervous as you get used to it is perfectly normal, especially if you are the only noticeably sober person at a get-together. This will lessen over time as your confidence grows.

Tips on ending the night

There are a couple of different ways to end a night out at the bar with friends. You can either slip out unannounced or let them know you are leaving.

Whichever you choose, no one can take away the fact that you are making the decision for yourself.

It is usually easier to slip out unnoticed when it gets later because people are not keeping track and most likely will not even remember the next day that you left early.

If you choose to say goodbye then they may try to pressure you to stay for another round of drinks. You are ultimately the only one who can make the choice to stay or go and in what way.

Be proud of yourself for making the decision to leave and following through after a night of good sober fun.

Organize stuff to do the next morning

It can also be a good idea to have actual plans in place for the next morning. Ones you want to follow through with and not miss.

That way you will have an excuse ready for leaving early, not drinking, and you will also have that to hold onto if you get a craving.

You can remind yourself that whatever you have planned is important and you just cannot afford to slip. Anytime you are going out to an event that may include drinking this is a solid step towards maintaining sobriety.

Another thing that can help with keeping sober while going out with friends that drink is always volunteering to be the designated driver. That way no one will question it.

Finding things to do without alcohol

As a society, we have built the idea of socialising around hanging out with some drinks so it might be a little hard to picture what it can look like without alcohol involved.

The most obvious way to have fun without drinking is to hang out somewhere outside of a bar environment. There are plenty of options out there.

You can go to an event that does not inherently involve alcohol like a staged play or movie. Team games like bowling, bingo, virtual reality video games or any number of other activities. None of which generally include the presence of alcohol.

Another thing to remember is that while your friends who are not sober do not have the option of leaving a get together whenever they want, you are not tied to staying because of cravings or a need to drink. You are able to take control of your own life.

Ready to get help?

At Rehab 4 Alcoholism, we offer high-quality rehabilitation & detoxification services tailored to your individual needs.

To discover your road to recovery, call us today on 0800 111 41 08

References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1852519/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25209252

[3] https://medlineplus.gov/alcoholusedisorderaud.html

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1976118/


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