Drinking alcohol is seen as such a social activity that the idea of stopping drinking makes us think we’ll end up a hermit. You can stop drinking and keep your friends. Here’s how –
There’s no need to go all Elsa from Frozen and lock yourself away from people forever. A zero-proof drink in your hand shouldn’t turn you into a hermit. You’re still you. You’re still fun! It might take a little while to convince yourself and your friends that alcohol had nothing to do with that but there are ways to help with that. In the early days, it might be easier to stick to doing activities that are already inherently fun. Trivia nights, comedy shows, bowling, miniature golf, trampoline parks, etc. The great thing about planning these activities is the fact that there is an activity to plan. Drinking really isn’t being social so if you plan on an activity where there is more to do than just drinking, people won’t be as focused on the fact that you’re not drinking.
Be Honest, Be Prepared
If you choose to take a break from drinking or stop altogether, questions are bound to come up. Make like a Scout – be prepared and be honest. You don’t want to be caught off guard with the questions and most friends are probably asking from a place of love and compassion. They want to be there for you and want to understand why this is important to you and how to support you.
Being honest doesn’t mean you have to bare it all or share more than you’re comfortable with. So whatever your reasons might be, you can frame it in a way that feels good to you. “I’m taking a break for my health.” “Drinking was happening more than I wanted it to.” “I didn’t like the way it made me feel/act.”
You can also be honest about how you feel about your friends drinking around you. If it makes you uncomfortable, let them know you’ll be avoiding gatherings with booze for now. If you couldn’t care less what they are drinking and this is all about you and your relationship with alcohol – tell them that too!
And if someone comes at you with language that isn’t supportive and encouraging – turn it around on them! “Why do you need to drink?” That tends to shut the line of questioning down pretty quickly!
Strategize How You Can Stop Drinking and Keep Your Friends
If you’re not in a place to share yet, don’t. Choose a strategy that works for you when it comes time to stop drinking and keep your friends. That will often look like –
- Show up early so you can place your drink order early with the waitstaff or bartender.
- When you already have a drink in hand, there’s no pressure to drink what everyone else is having. You can also request a refill without needing to shout out what you’re having!
- Make sure you have an exit strategy in mind.
- As people get a few drinks in they tend to get less fun to be around. That can be triggering when you’re voiding drinking yourself. Plan to leave before things get messy. Or you can offer to be the designated driver but make it clear you need to leave at a certain time due to other plans.
- Schedule something important early the next day.
- Make an important appointment of some sort for early the next morning. Knowing that your clearheaded presence is needed and important the next day will make it easier to turn down drinks and for others to understand why you aren’t indulging.
Make New Friends
It may sound harsh but sometimes when you stop drinking it might be easier to make new friends rather than to hold onto ones who just aren’t supportive. If the only thing you and your former friends had in common was drinking, it really isn’t a huge loss. You’re going to be discovering all sorts of new hobbies and interests now that drinking is no longer your main pastime. Chances are you might make new non-drinking friends there!
And if not? Well, we have entire communities of support here at This Naked Mind! From our Facebook groups and The Alcohol Experiment to the 100 Days of Lasting Change and The PATH – you can find connection and support at your fingertips with a few taps of your phone!
Need More Advice on How To Stop Drinking and Keep Your Friends?
The This Naked Mind Podcast is full of valuable advice on a slew of topics related to health, wellness, socialization, relationships, and how to maintain them all when you stop drinking. Check it out!