How To Be Sober And Still Have A Social Life

Being sober isn't as boring as it seems.

Making the decision to get sober is never easy. Actually getting sober is even harder. So much has to change about the way you live your life in order to maintain, and it can be overwhelming to think about. Even more overwhelming is the thought of having a sober social life. If you’re anything like me, a million thoughts start racing through your mind.

How do I talk to people without booze?

Many of us drink for lots of reasons, one of which may be that we have some form of anxiety in social situations and alcohol is our social lubricant. When I started drinking, I felt like I transformed from an awkward, self-conscious girl into a funny, smart, attractive one. I had no idea how to even start talking to people without booze.

So I stopped trying. I went places and hung out with people, but I didn’t force myself to converse. Over time, I found that I gradually got more comfortable being in social situations sober. As that happened, I started to feel able to add things to conversations. The only way out is through, and it required me to sit with the discomfort for a while. It passes, always. Sometimes I still feel out of place in social situations. But now I know that it won’t kill me and it will be over soon enough.

Where do I hang out if I can’t go to the bar?

No one said that you can’t go to the bar (though it might not be the best idea if you’re, like, a week sober)! I can absolutely still go to bars. Hanging out at bars doesn’t make me want to drink, nor is it hard to be around other people that are drinking. At this point in my sobriety, I’m recovered. That means that the desire to drink has been removed for me. That being said, I really don’t go to bars all that often. I just don’t feel like I belong there anymore. I feel like I’m in a different place in my life and I don’t fit in that world anymore.

So where do I hang out? Literally any and everywhere else. I go to friend’s homes for dinner parties and TV-watching. I go to brunch with my boo. I meet friends for coffee and get totally hopped up on caffeine. The city (and my world) felt so small when I was drinking. Now that I’m sober, the city has opened up to me. My movement isn’t dictated by when, where, and if I’ll be drinking anymore. That means I can actually go more places, not fewer.

How do I make friends that don’t drink?

The easy answer here is to go to 12-step meetings. Even if you don’t believe in the program outlined, it’s still a great way to form a sober network of friends and meet other people that don’t drink. It was indispensable for me in early sobriety. But there are other options, too! I started volunteering and I joined a local moms’ group, which were both great ways to meet people. Think about something you’re interested in and look for ways to get involved with it in your community! It’s a great way to meet people, and you’re guaranteed to have at least one interest in common.

What if I lose all my friends?

You absolutely might. I lost a great deal of mine, whether it was because it turned out that we didn’t actually like each other once we stopped drinking, or because my sobriety made them uncomfortable and they stopped inviting me places. I understood that I might have to make sacrifices or give up some things that I cared about in order to maintain sobriety. For me, one of the things I had to give up was relationships with some of my drinking buddies. If they’re really your friend, they’ll still be there when the booze is gone. And if they’re not, you deserve (and will find) better friends than that.

What do sober people even do?

Things I thought sober people did: went bowling, had boring sober dances, went to movies, hated their stupid boring lives.

Things sober people actually do: go bowling, drink a lot of flavored seltzer water, go to movies, go to work, have families, go on dates, generally live awesome, normal, full lives.

Oh God, I’m going to be a huge loser.

A loser is someone who can’t control how much they drink and who does embarrassing things to the point that no one wants to hang out with them anymore. When that person makes the decision to get sober, they’re the opposite of a loser. They’re inspiring and badass and awesome as hell. So fear not, my friend.

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