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How Do I Socialize Without Alcohol?

Alcohol is so common in our culture that you may feel like sobriety will turn you into a recluse. That can be a serious impediment to recovery. If you are a very social person, it might threaten an important aspect of your identity. Even if you aren’t particularly social, you need social support in recovery. The belief that you are disqualified from socializing because you no longer drink can hurt your recovery in the long run.

If social support is so important to recovery, how do you socialize while avoiding alcohol? It turns out that most of what people do does not involve alcohol. If that doesn’t sound true to you, it is because you have been focused on alcohol for a long time and you haven’t been particularly curious about what people do when they aren’t drinking.

While alcohol is available nearly everywhere, it’s usually not necessary, or even desirable for having fun with other people. For example, people quite often socialize over dinner. People often drink with dinner, but not as often as you might think. If you decide not to drink with dinner, the only person who is likely to notice is the waiter, who wants to sell you obscenely overpriced drinks. No one else cares if you stick with water.

It’s true that alcohol loosens people up so they are more open, but a good meal has much the same effect. Research shows that people like each other more over a good meal. They associate the food with the people they eat with. It’s even better if you make the meal yourself or help someone else make it. Then you have more control over the food and the environment and your friends will be happy you cooked for them–assuming the meal is good, of course.

Try getting involved in a sport or activity. Drinking is associated with some sports, but very few sports are improved by drinking. It might be common to have a cocktail after a round of golf or some beers after a road race, but they aren’t necessary, and they certainly won’t help your performance. Taking up a new sport, joining a league, a running group, or an exercise class can be a great way to improve your health while making friends in a sober activity. Whatever you’re interested in, there’s probably some group in your area that does it. If you’re nervous about new people, talk a friend into trying it with you.

Consider volunteering. People come together over worthy causes. Volunteering indicates you share values with the people around you. It’s a perfect opportunity to make new friends. Volunteering through a church or school usually means working in an alcohol-free environment and doing something to contribute to your community is good for your recovery.

No matter what you do, make sure you don’t move too quickly. If you aren’t sure you can go to dinner with friends and not order a drink, don’t push it. Focus instead on activities where you aren’t likely to come anywhere near alcohol, or host a get together yourself. If you look for sober ways to socialize, you will soon discover that most of the time alcohol is incidental.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help. We offer medically assisted detox and a variety of therapeutic services in a comfortable, supportive environment. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.