The biggest challenge faced by alcoholics during their addiction recovery journey is to find new ways to have fun without alcohol. At Lantana, we know that alcoholics have become highly dependent on drinking to socialize or enjoy a party that having fun without drinking is an alienist phenomenon to them. Alcohol has been normalized in our society to the extent that we consume it in every situation, be it a celebration or a commemoration. Received good news? pop open a bottle of champagne! Depressed about a situation? Drown in vodka to numb the pain!
How Can You Have Fun When You’re Not Drinking?
If you are looking for fun things to do without alcohol, you need to think out of the box and be a little creative. As mentioned above in the article, you need to stimulate the brain’s pleasure center to feel happy and energized. These are a few alcohol-free ways to do that:
- Go on adventures: the adrenaline rush after a long hike, bike ride, paragliding, or scuba diving cannot be attained by any alcohol. Make a bucket list and start ticking things off before it’s too late.
- Learn to Meditate: meditation teaches self-control and trains a monkey mind to be a monk mind.
- Join a gym: staying active and healthy reduces the chances of a relapse.
- Volunteer: giving back to the community is super-rewarding and eases the process of self-forgiveness.
- Learn to cook your favorite meal.
- Visit an art gallery.
- Explore new music and movies: nothing beats the dopamine rush of finding a new song you cannot stop jamming to or discovering a new cinematic masterpiece. If you can, go to nearby cafes or visit film festivals to support new and upcoming artists.
- Go to the spa: get a massage or steam bath to rewind after a busy day.
- Redecorate a room in the house: paint the walls with a new color or re-purpose old furniture into something new. Changing your surroundings also have a positive impact on your well-being.
The whole idea of addiction recovery is to break the self-destructing habits and slowly adjust to the new normal. So if you are trying to stay sober and fighting the battle against alcoholism, then in this article we will discuss how to have fun without drinking.
Breaking The Cycle
Let’s start by figuring out the root cause of your dependence on not just alcohol but any substance to survive this life. The paradox of addiction is that it reprograms the human brain to believe that it makes the unbearable social situation manageable. Especially a socially anxious or depressed mind who depends on it to perform even menial tasks.
But the reality is quite the opposite of this; alcohol is a depressant drug that causes depression and anxiety rather than keeping it under control. It hacks the brain’s pleasure center by stimulating the excessive release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine or endorphins. As a result, the brain cuts down its natural production and depends on alcohol as a stimulus.
Think of it as a beast that needs a steady but massive supply of drugs to feed itself. It gets stronger every time to increase the dosage and screams every time you try to starve it. But with a little abstinence and self-determination, you can weaken this beast to death. As we know, alcohol abstinence has become more common, and the amount of alcohol consumed among drinkers has declined!
Redefine Your Definition of Fun
Another reason is the over-romanticizing of alcohol’s association with enjoyment by the entertainment industry that we often regard sobriety as boring. We all grow up watching rappers glorifying the over-consumption of booze and movies depicting parties revolving around alcohol, and we start relating fun with heavy drinking.
Blacking out during the event or waking up the next day with an intense hangover is considered a sign of a wonderful evening. But unfortunately, that is not true. Drinking to the extent that you lose control of yourself and can’t remember what happened the previous night is not a sign of time well spent.
If you want to have a good time staying alcohol-free, you must rethink your idea of fun. Forget the stereotypical views of leisure and do something that makes you feel alive. For example, if going to a bar or a party with a crowd full of strangers makes you anxious, then staying at home to read, cook, or watch your favorite TV show falls under the definition of fun too. Because if you do, the chances are that the crowd will trigger your anxiety, and you will end up drinking.
Pick Up A Hobby or Two
Revisit one of your old hobbies while relearning how to have fun without alcohol. Pick up your old paintbrush and let your imagination run wild. Take your teenage guitar out of its case and start stroking those strings. Start a vegetable or succulent garden in your apartment. Learn to bake bread at home. Borrow the knitting needles from your grandma and make yourself a sweater for the winter.
Enroll yourself in a woodworking workshop. Learn to play a board game such as chess, or monopoly, etc. Start reading that book you have been meaning to read for years. Take up writing again with a short story. Whatever it be, distracting yourself with these hobbies helps you to stop drinking. There is a high probability of going to a liquor store or calling up an old drinking buddy if you don’t indulge in such activities. Moreover, they are a great way to connect with your old creative self and find meaning in life.
Join A Support Group
If you are trying to quit drinking, then finding an alcohol-free social situation or a group of friends who want to have fun without alcohol can be demanding. One-on-One support groups and group therapy at Lantana are a smart and effective way to find the people striving to reach the same destination as you. Since they are also embarked on the same journey as you, they can easily understand your struggles. You will be able to immediately connect with them and form lasting friendships.
In addition to this, support groups have proved to be highly beneficial in quitting process. Seeing the people who also want a sober life and are facing the same difficulties as you, makes one feel less alone. You can learn new methods to control your cravings and adopt new coping mechanisms. Hearing their stories of recovery and their efforts to stick to their goals will motivate you to try harder.
Alcoholics Anonymous groups are very common in America and you can find many in your local area without much trouble. There you can meet individuals who are also interested in learning how to have fun without alcohol. You can plan hangouts with them that do not revolve around drinking such as camping trips or spa days etc.
Socializing Without Alcohol
In a social scenario where everyone else is holding a drink in hand and alcohol is unavoidable, shift your focus to other things. Try to enjoy the delicious food served at the party or maybe center all of your attention on forming social connections. Indulge in other activities at the party, for example, do karaoke, listen to live music, or hit the pool table. Always keep water or a non-alcoholic drink near you if you start to fancy a drink.
Healthy Alternatives to Alcohol
Although if you feel like an odd one out while holding the above-mentioned fruity drinks, then don’t worry as we have got you covered with equally yummy but fun-looking drinks.
- Kombucha: A natural and fermented drink loaded with probiotics and antioxidants makes an ultimate adult drink that checks all the marks of health and taste.
- Non-alcoholic gin: Produced from the distilled brewing of various botanicals such as coriander, cardamom, Persian dried lime, lemon peel, and licorice.
- Non-Alcohol sparkling wine: A white wine made from organic farm-grown grapes through the traditional process but is later de-alcoholized to cater to your needs.
- Sparkling juices: Made from fruits, herbs, and apple cider vinegar.
- Low-Alcohol beers: These come with only 0.5% alcohol in them.
- Mocktails: Available in a variety of flavors, these are prepared using a combination of juices, sodas, fruit extracts, and infused waters.
Another commonly used herbal ingredient is Ashwagandha, which relieves stress and has a relaxing sensation. You boil the herb to make tea and consume it whenever you feel upset and want to drink.
Benefits of Being Sober From Alcohol
If your biggest concern with a non-alcoholic lifestyle is that you will miss out on the fun, then these few benefits of staying sober might help your decision:
- You will be able to enjoy every moment of life to its fullest. The biggest regret of your drinking years might be to skip through the precious moments in life.
- You can save a lot of money you previously spent on buying drinks and investing in improving your future.
- You can rekindle your friendships with friends you lost by staying drunk all the time.
- You can excel in your career and feel satisfied.
- You will have a better social life where you learn to enjoy yourself without outside aid.
- You will be less likely to develop infectious diseases, cancer, diabetes, neuropsychiatric diseases (including alcohol use disorders), cardiovascular disease, liver and pancreas disease, and unintentional and intentional injury.
- You will be able to form lasting relationships that bring you joy.
- You will start to feel healthier.
“Change comes from within” is an old saying but is very applicable in the case of addiction recovery. All of these will render you useless if you don’t hold yourself accountable and commit to stop drinking. It would be best to find a strong and compelling reason that keeps you motivated and going despite the hardships.
While “recent surveys have found a strong decrease in alcohol consumption among young people and this trend has been identified in European countries, Australia and North America” (Why are young people drinking less than earlier? Identifying and specifying social mechanisms with a pragmatist approach, Törrönen et al., 2019), we at Lantana believe that you can find the answers and change the mindset, which is all you need to quit drinking and find meaning in life.
- Qualitative interviews with 49 drinking and non-drinking young people from Sweden were conducted to explore how these factors might explain the decline in alcohol consumption.
- The study uses a pragmatist approach to understand the concerns, habits, practices, situations, and meanings related to low alcohol consumption or decline in drinking among adolescents.
- The findings suggest that the cultural position of drinking may have changed among young people, reducing its symbolic power as a rite of passage into adulthood.
- There is less peer pressure to drink, and young people have more opportunities for alternative activities.
- This shift in the drinking culture may increase the success of other social mechanisms that reduce adolescents’ drinking.
Do that inner work, no matter how emotionally draining and difficult it is. Learn to recognize the patterns and ask yourself why you think of alcohol to solve your problems. We’re rooting for you!