Let’s face it…..when we are the only ones not drinking, it can leave us feeling detached, separated, and awkward. How do we deal with this and put a positive spin on these types of scenarios? Annie gives us reassuring tips on how to approach this and ways we can change our thinking so that we don’t feel detached and isolated.

Episode Links:
National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Download EP:122 Transcript


It’s a common scene. You’re out to dinner with friends or meeting them to shoot pool. A backyard barbeque or tailgating at a football game. You should feel happy and even euphoric but instead you feel like you don’t belong. Have you ever wondered “Why do I feel detached not drinking?” You already know that alcohol can actually make you unhappy and rob your joy from things that used to make you happy. It changes your brain chemistry through the chemicals that are released to counter-act alcohol. So why is it that when you’re surrounded by drinking which makes you unhappy you still feel unsettled?

Detached Not Drinking

Mark says, “I’ve found that despite not drinking I do struggle to get on the same wavelength as the other people around me on the occasions that they’re all imbibing. When I used to be a party animal I now feel detached not drinking alcohol, any tips?”


I remember this well. You have the initial euphoria of realizing that you never have to drink again and you’re not going to need to drink again, and it gets you through a lot of the first initial social occasions, just feeling free. Then the reality hits that you are separate, you are doing something separate.

It’s Not The Drinking

If everybody met for a poker party and you weren’t playing poker, you would feel separate from your friends. That’s a tough situation to be in.

It’s unfortunate that we think we meet to drink because actually, what we’re really meeting for is for the conversation and the connections.

We’re social beings, we’re social people. We misinterpret that drinking a part of that connection and if someone is no longer drinking they can no longer socialize.


When I initially announced that I was no longer drinking I had no idea that I was going to get negative reactions. I had a friend who I hadn’t seen in forever call me and she said, “Yeah, I just have to admit to you that I was really afraid that we wouldn’t be able to connect without our margaritas.” I have known this girl since I was four years old. For decades our connection was flourishing without margaritas, but then suddenly, because we had drank margaritas together every time we had spent time together, she was really afraid that we wouldn’t be able to connect without drinking. There were a few occasions where my friends weren’t very positive about it, and they felt like, “Oh, well, what about our friendship? Will we be able to connect, will we have anything to say?”

It’s not only that you feel detached not drinking, those around you feel detached as well. Almost like a barrier has been put up.

Detached Not Drinking

Once when I stopped drinking I received an invitation to a party by someone who didn’t know me that well. She happily announced “There’s going to be a shot ski! You know, everybody’s going to be drinking.” While the fact that everyone was going to be drinking didn’t bother me I immediately felt as if I shouldn’t go. I felt like I was going to make everyone else uncomfortable by not drinking and I would ruin the party. The reality is you are doing something separate. You will feel detached not drinking alcohol. And I think the key things to remember is that it might be awkward, it might be uncomfortable.

Start Reading

Find out how to deal with feeling detached not drinking alcohol. Download the first 40 pages of This Naked Mind free now:

Keep Listening

Tune in to the complete podcast to learn more on why you feel detached not drinking.

Subscribe on iTunes

Subscribe on Google Play

Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License