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Alternate Tips On How to Socialize Without Alcohol

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Key takeaways:

  • Socializing often revolves around drinking, but there are ways to have a thriving social life without alcohol.
  • Tips for socializing without alcohol: talk about your sobriety with friends, plan ahead for an exit strategy, seek out sober social events, don’t be afraid to say no, and make new sober friends.
  • Ideas for alcohol-free social activities: get out in nature, join a sports league, learn a new skill, volunteer for community building, and go to a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Lantana Recovery.
  • Being sober doesn’t mean missing out on fun; it can lead to more meaningful interactions and experiences.

It’s no secret that alcohol often plays a central role in social gatherings. After all, alcohol is often seen as a social lubricant. It can help to make people feel more relaxed and less inhibited. From bar nights with friends to wine tastings and happy hours, drinking can seem like the only way to have a good time.

But it can also be a huge challenge if you’re sober. Whether you’re in recovery, pregnant, or just don’t enjoy alcohol, socializing without booze can be difficult. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.

There are plenty of ways to have fun and connect with others without drinking – you just have to get creative. In our experience, sober interactions are way more fun and meaningful, not to mention less likely to leave you hungover the next day.

In this post, we will share a few tips and ideas on how to have a social life without alcohol. So let’s get started!

How To Have A Social Life While Sober Friends

It’s no secret that socializing often revolves around drinking even though alcohol use and misuse account for 3.3 million deaths every year, or 6 percent of all deaths worldwide. Whether it’s going out for drinks after work or grabbing a beer at a friend’s house, alcohol is often seen as the key to having a good time.

However, this can be a challenge for those who are sober. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to have a thriving social life that doesn’t involve alcohol.

Here are some tips for socializing without alcohol:

1. Talk about your sobriety

It can be helpful to talk about your experience with sobriety with your friends. This can help them understand why you’re not drinking and let them know that you’re still the same person they’ve always known – just without alcohol.

Moreover, it will also help them understand what you’re going through and how they can best support you. It can also be a bonding experience – by sharing your story, you’re letting your friends in and giving them a chance to understand and empathize with you.

person talking to a therapist

2. Plan ahead for an exit strategy

If you’re trying to stay sober, there may be times when you’re faced with pressure to drink alcohol. Whether you’re out with friends or at a work event, it’s important to know how to decline politely.

  • One option is to offer to be the designated driver. This way, you can still be part of the fun without drinking.
  • If that’s not possible, try saying that you have an early morning tomorrow and need to stay sober. This is a polite way to decline without having to explain your situation.
  • You could also say that you’re looking forward to a sober event and don’t want to drink beforehand.
  • If you’re pressed for an excuse, you could say that you’re taking medication that doesn’t mix well with alcohol, or that you’re allergic to alcohol.

Just remember to always have an excuse ready before going out. Whatever you do, don’t hesitate to be assertive and maintain your sobriety during a social interaction that involves drinks.

3. Seek out a sober social event

There are often sober events and activities happening in most communities. These can be great places to meet new people and socialize with them without the use of alcohol or drugs. Check online or ask your local recovery center for more information.

Try broadening your social horizon beyond the bar scene. Countless sober meetups and events are happening daily, and attending these can help you connect with like-minded people.

However, if you ever find yourself in a situation, where you can’t avoid drinks (like bars), then settle for non-alcoholic alternatives like club soda, fruit mocktails, iced tea, or sparkling water, etc. We suggest calling up the venue before (if possible) and finding out what non-alcoholic beverages they offer.

4. Don’t be afraid to say no

Just because you’re sober doesn’t mean you have to go to every party or drink every time your friends do. If you’re not comfortable being in a situation where alcohol is present, it’s OK to politely decline. Your friends will understand.

5. Make new sober friends

For many people, drinking is a way to relax and let loose, and it can be hard to imagine having fun without it. A few drinks can make you brave enough to hit on that cutie at the bar or dance like no one’s watching. In other words, alcohol can provide what’s commonly known as “liquid courage.”

That is why individuals with social anxiety often rely on alcohol to open up in social situations. However, this is just a quick fix to not feel self-conscious and can often lead to a greater dependency on alcohol to steer difficult social situations.

Likewise, social lubrication from drinks can help people feel more comfortable in social situations, easing the flow of conversation and lowering inhibitions. However, when you are trying to quit alcohol, you no longer have that crutch you rely on to feel comfortable in social situations.

Therefore, it is important to address your social anxiety through therapy, medication, and exercises so that you can effectively engage people during conversations or have a fun night without alcohol.

Ideas For Alcohol-Free Social Activities

It’s true that  “first-year college students develop a pattern of heavy drinking that puts them at risk for adverse consequences during their college years and into young adulthood” (Predictors of alcohol use during the first year of college: Implications for prevention, Borsari et al., 2007) but alcohol-free activities are on the rise and we’ve got some tricks under our sleeve to enjoy ourselves while spending time with a social group. Now let’s talk about some social activities you can take part in that don’t involve booze.

Get Out In Nature

Getting out in nature is a healthy alcohol-free activity that can help you feel more social, among other things. Here are some ways to get out in nature and try new things:

  • Join local hiking, camping, or running groups. This is a great way to meet people with similar interests and who love being outdoors.
  • Attend a community gardening event. These events are typically very relaxed and allow you to chat with those around you while you work on something together.
  • Check out your local farmers’ market. Many markets have live music and offer a great opportunity to catch up with friends while supporting your local farmers.
  • Go for a walk in the park. This is a great way to clear your head and get some fresh air. Walking with a friend can also be a great way to socialize while getting some exercise.
person taking nature walk

Join A Sports League

For most people, after they finish rehab, it can be hard to know how to rebuild their social life. You may have lost touch with old friends, or your hobbies and interests may have changed. One great way to start rebuilding your social life is by joining a sports league.

Whether you’re into basketball, football, or even just running, there’s likely a league for you. Joining a team can help you meet new people with similar interests, and it can also give you a chance to reconnect with old friends.

Plus, playing sports is a great way to stay active and healthy. So if you’re looking for a way to rebuild your social life post-rehab, joining a sports league is a great option.

Learn A New Skill

When you have a new hobby or interest, it gives you something to talk about with other people and can help you make friends who share your interests. Finding a regular activity that you enjoy can also help you structure your time and give you a sense of purpose, which are both important factors in maintaining sobriety.

And, of course, learning something new is just plain fun! There are endless possibilities when it comes to skills you can learn – the key is to find something that interests you and then go for it.

Whether it’s art, cooking, dance, or anything else, taking a class is a great way to learn something new while also meeting potential friends. Many community colleges offer recreational classes that are open to everyone, so check out their offerings to see what’s available.

Plus, when you will get to see the same people every few times a week, it can help you ease up with them and enjoy their company.

person learning pottery

Volunteer For Community Building

For someone newly sober, community building can be an important part of the recovery process. Volunteering is a great way to get involved in your community and make new friends who are also committed to sobriety.

It can also help you to cut ties with past toxic relationships and establish yourself as someone who is capable of giving back. In addition to the social benefits, volunteering also provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment that can be essential for sustaining sobriety in the long term.

If you are looking for ways to get involved in your community and build a support network of like-minded individuals, volunteering for community-building projects is a great place to start.

Go To A Support Group

When most people think about going to a support group, they don’t usually think about how it can help them build a social life outside of alcohol. But that’s one of the great things about Alcoholics Anonymous or Lantana- it can help you meet new friends and build a social life that doesn’t revolve around drinking.

Just by attending meetings regularly, you’ll quickly get to know other members and learn about their lives, interests, and hobbies. And as you get more involved in the group, you’ll have opportunities to participate in activities and social events with other members.

Bottom Line

Don’t let the idea of being sober keep you from enjoying yourself at your next party or gathering. There are plenty of ways to have a good time without alcohol, and we hope these tips from Lantana will help get you started. If you want more ideas or need help sticking to your guns when temptation strikes, reach out to us for support!

So go out and enjoy yourself, sans alcohol.


Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

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Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.