Sober socialising for the first time? Here are some tips to get you started
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Let’s be honest – our social lives have been turned upside down over the past year. The thought of life going back to “normal” can feel very daunting, especially if you have stopped drinking over lockdown and are yet to flex that alcohol-free socialising muscle.
The thought of going to a bar, restaurant, or nightclub might feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
Being sober doesn't have to mean giving up your social life, yet managing sobriety in a social setting (especially when alcohol is involved) can be a bit of a challenge. You may have a lot of concerns about going out after quitting drinking.
To help you navigate these situations, we spoke to experts Ali Bestel, who is the head of marketing at Loxtonia Cider, and Sean O’Connor who is the founder of the South African Mindful Drinking Festival, on how you can enjoy sober socialising.
Ali Bestel’s tips:
Do not worry about people judging you for not drinking and do not feel like you need to explain why you are not drinking.
Try spending time with people who won't pressure you to drink, and go to places where drinking isn't expected. It could help to order a non-alcoholic option first, so that you can sip on something and enjoy it.
Try embracing meaningful conversations and do not feel afraid to leave if you feel uncomfortable. There are so many myths that one will only have fun if one is drinking which is, of course, completely untrue. You need to stand strong in your decision.
Sean O’Connor’s tips:
It's best to have a solid plan and a designated buddy, so that you can get out of a tricky situation if you need to. Even just someone to phone.
Definitely take your own non-alcoholic drinks with you. You do not have to justify why you are not drinking – just saying “no thanks” is enough – and easier to defend if you have your own non-alcoholic drink in hand already.
Remember that a good friend does not want to see you drunk, they want what's really best for you. Yet people take it as a slight on themselves if they're drinking and you're not – it tends to make them uncomfortable about their own habits, that's why they'd rather you drank with them.
Anticipate things like shots and shooters coming around. No one will notice if you don't partake, or they won't mind because all they want to do is drink as fast as possible – someone else will gladly have two.
Arrive early and leave early if you have to attend something where there will be a lot of booze around. You'll notice that inebriated people can be quite boring – they tend to shout and repeat themselves, and socialising with them can be awkward. Just leave. Let them have their drinks! After a while, it gets much easier.