Tackling social situations without alcohol

Social situations are difficult. They involve preconceived ideas of what ‘fun’ is and involve other people that can make it easy for you to scrap your well-made plans. Both external triggers and internal emotions about an event (ranging from FOMO to fear) mean your internal saboteur has a number of ‘compelling’ arguments with which to get you to drink. So how can we tackle social situations?

What does being social really mean to you?

Sometimes I hear members talk about the hurdle of being social and how not drinking would affect their precious social life. But when you dig deeper, it turns out we are only talking about a couple of significant occasions a month. Most of our drinking is done at home. Yes, other people are present, but they are not the social event. We often over-glamourise our social life as a reason for not starting to change our drinking. It may also be that any of the events we class as social we do as an excuse to drink, as opposed to a real enriching social occasion.

If you were really enjoying your social drinking you would not be here!

For many of us of the balance tipped some time ago from alcohol being a little bit of social lubricant into something that made us forget the whole event by the next morning, and crippled us with worry about what we said and what we did. So what is it you will be forgoing exactly?

If you change your drinking, your social life will change but it won’t disappear – that is your internal saboteur catastrophising!  It may take a little bit of effort to redefine your social life. But it won’t go.

Open yourself up to the possibility that it could be even better.

After all, nothing stays the same in your life. Think back on your life: your work responsibilities have changed, you may have had kids, moved town, fallen in and out of love. You managed all of this change – so switching from nights in the pub to nights eating, dancing, singing, or playing board games is hardly a major life change. You are just using it as an excuse to procrastinate.

In fact finding a new social you is an important distraction, and key to creating your new non-drinking identity.

Social myths about alcohol

That does not mean you don’t have events to contend with. And early on in your journey, these can seem like a mountain to climb.

But don’t forget that we have been sold a whole heap of lies and myths abut drinking that you need to start to un-believe. Such as:

  • you need a drink to have a good time
  • alcohol is the only way to celebrate something important
  • you a refusing someone’s hospitality by not drinking alcohol.

These are all bollocks. Myths perpetuated by advertisers and society, so that we can justify our drinking – and myths we accepted wholeheartedly because it gave us an excuse to drink.

Plan for social situations without alcohol

As with everything, whatever the event, planning makes a difference. You can plan to avoid, control, escape.

Using the WOOP method helps.

State your wish, for example:

“I WISH to not drink at this wedding”

And the OUTCOME you hope to achieve, for example;

“If I do this I will feel a sense of achievement and be able to enjoy the following morning in this fancy hotel.”

Think about possible OBSTACLES: what might get in the way of you achieving this? For example:

“Not having an alternative drink, feeling I am missing our, getting bored.”

Then PLAN. For example:

IF it is the case that there are no alcohol-free drinks, or I feel I am missing our, or I feel bored I will:

  • phone in advance and see if I can bring my own drinks
  • bring my own regardless
  • bring a small bottle of cordial to pimp my water
  • take some time out on my own to enjoy the surroundings and not worry about not drinking
  • try and speak to some people I have never met before and find out more about them
  • plan a reward to celebrate my achievement at the end of the night.

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