When You’re The Only Sober Friend: A Guide To Friendships and Alcohol
Studies are showing that alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder, is on the rise in the United States. One in eight American adults is now classified as an alcoholic, which brings with it a range of serious health complications. Approximately 88,000 people die in the United States each year due to alcohol-related causes.
If you are taking positive steps to overcome alcoholism, you may find that one of the most difficult factors is in dealing with your friends. Whether you are the only sober person in the room, you are searching for other sober friends or dealing with explaining to people why you don’t drink, there can be many hurdles to face during your journey.
The support of your friends during your recovery phase is crucial. That said, it is important to avoid the temptations you might encounter when socializing with certain friends. In this blog post as well as others, we break down some of the most important points related to sobriety and friendship.
Where to Make Sober Friends
Striking a balance between socializing with your old, drink-happy friends and finding new, sober friends is important. When it comes to making sober friends, there is a range of benefits. Sober friends can help prevent loneliness, help you settle into a sober routine, and open your eyes to a fun and exciting world without alcohol.
If you are searching for sober friends, there are plenty of ways to find them. An obvious place is at a specific non-alcohol event. There are a growing number of groups that focus on doing fun and interesting events without including alcohol.
You can also consider joining a specific group that won’t revolve around alcohol. A sports team or gym can be a great way to make health-conscious friends, as can a knitting club, a book club, a dance group, and an evening course to learn a new language.
If you find yourself with hangover-free weekends and some spare time, volunteering with a worthy cause not only makes you feel great but it’s also an excellent way to find like-minded friends. Putting yourself out there and making friends away from pubs and clubs will lessen your desire to fall down into your old ways.
Telling People You Don’t Drink
As you continue your recovery from alcoholism, you will likely face certain questions time and time again. Questions like ‘Why don’t you drink?’ and ‘Are you sure you don’t want one?’ will crop up whenever you are socializing, particularly with old friends and their drinking buddies.
If someone walks up to you and asks why you aren’t drinking, there are a number of ways in which to approach the question. One way is to explain that it is simply a personal choice, which usually does the trick. People appreciate hearing an honest answer and this one, while still vague, answers the question truly.
You can also explain your difficulties in the past and why you have made this personal choice. Talking about your struggle with alcoholism helps to cement your decision to quit drinking and can also helpfully inform others about the benefits of giving up alcohol in an impartial way.
In many instances, however, people will only ask in order to make small talk. A simple reply that you don’t drink anymore, that you are a designated driver, or that its none of their business are all acceptable answers, depending on how you feel at that particular moment.
Importance of Friends in Recovery
Whether new friends or old, having a strong support system is an important part of your recovery from alcoholism. Having people to lean on if times get tough, to get your mind off your struggles, to take inspiration from, and to feel loved is crucial.
Studies have highlighted that friendship is the most impactful social support when overcoming alcoholism. Your old friends, even if they themselves drink, will most likely care about your well-being and be there to support you. It is important to embrace their support, even if it’s not the exact same relationship that it once was.
New friends, particularly sober friends who serve as inspiration, are also important. Making friends with people who are all at different stages of recovery can help you to see the positives of long-term abstinence from alcohol. Having friends who are at the same point in the journey can motivate all of you, making it more likely that you will not experience setbacks.
Family and partners are other key components of your support system. Embrace their care and love. Make plans with them and increase your time in their presence, particularly if you overlooked them in the past when you drank.
How to Be the Only Sober Person
If you are a recovering alcoholic, attending events like weddings and parties can be daunting. While it’s certainly possible to have a glass of non-alcoholic drink in your hand and dodge the kind of questions we addressed above, it’s also okay to own your sobriety. While people may be a little surprised at first, don’t let it stop you from having fun, whether that hitting the dance floor or socializing with friends.
Whatever the event, it’s important to understand why you are there. For some people, it will just be a great excuse for a few drinks. For you, however, remind yourself of the event’s purpose. For example, if it’s a wedding, embrace those feelings of love and togetherness.
Watching your friends when they are drunk isn’t as hilarious when you are sober. Seeing the silly and often embarrassing things they do can help you solidify your decision to stop drinking.
Embrace Friendships New and Old
Your friends will be important support during your recovery from alcohol. The above advice will help you to lean on the support of old friends and make new, sober friends away from the bar.
For more help, the Stop Drinking Expert is here for you. Why not join today’s free quit drinking webinar and find out how we have helped over 100,000 people just like you to get sober AND happy.