5 Women On Being Sober & Still Having A Brilliant Social Life This Month

Photo by EyeEm Paul/Eyeem.
From Sunday roasts with the family to networking events and impromptu catch-ups with friends, alcohol is synonymous with all things communal, so going dry (whether it's in Sober October or Dry January) isn’t just a physical or mental decision, it’s a social one too.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the occasional tipple as decompressant or conversational lubricant, alcohol is so ingrained in British culture that it has become a non-negotiable in many young people’s social lives. As a nation, the UK revels in getting wasted on a night out and according to the NHS more than 10 million people in England regularly drink "above low risk levels", with alcohol being the biggest risk factor for death among people aged 15-49.
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Maintaining sobriety when social lives revolve around drinking and partying can be a challenge, and the fear of losing friends or becoming a shut-in means a lot of us may find the prospect of quitting drinking daunting, especially those struggling with anxiety and depression. How many of us have said we’d cut out (or at least cut back on) alcohol if it wouldn’t affect our social lives? With our busy schedules, after-work pints or nights out are the only free time we have to catch up with mates, and the thought of giving those up can be scary. We each have a unique and complex relationship with our vices and coping mechanisms, but it’s important to learn that it is possible to have a healthy social life without them.
In a culture that glamorises binge-drinking and raging, being a sober twenty-something makes you an anomaly, so we asked young people how quitting alcohol affected their social landscape, and how to have a life without relying on booze.
If you’re struggling with alcohol abuse and are looking for help, visit Alcoholics Anonymous or Drinkaware for support.
1 of 5

You don't need to sacrifice the life you love

Charlotte, 22

"For people like me, who have anxiety and are the very definition of introverted, getting intoxicated allows us to have the relationships and social environment that we need, without being taken over by our worries or that voice in our head. But if you’re damaging your liver and health because you think this is the only way people will accept you, this won’t make your life better. I still go out once in a while and let loose; you don’t need to sacrifice the life you love but it’s important to remember that the right people in your life will love you sober and enjoy spending time with you outside of nightclubs and pubs. Reach out – you may be surprised that you can still have a good time away from the bottle."
2 of 5

Set yourself realistic goals

Liv, 25

"Admittedly being the only sober one when all your friends are shitfaced can be pretty tragic, and when people clock that I’m not drinking they always, without fail, ask if I’m pregnant. Aside from that, the key is prioritising quality time with mates in scenarios that don’t rely on being wasted. If the idea of going cold turkey scares you, set yourself realistic goals: instead of having four drinks a night, have two. Or try drinking exclusively on weekends, or only when you’re celebrating something. Or set yourself a booze budget and hold yourself accountable so you stick to it. And if you’re worried about people judging you for being sober, order water with ice and lemon in it and tell people it’s straight vodka. That usually shuts them up!”
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3 of 5

Your social life doesn't get better or worse, just different

Jessica, 22

"I’ve found most people find nights out and drinking a little overrated; they’re nice once in a while but every weekend can get tedious and expensive. Your social life may change after quitting alcohol, but it doesn’t necessarily get better or worse – just different. Make more of an effort to see your mates for dinner, or a walk, or swimming, or to go to the gym. You don’t really bond with people on nights out anyway; you generally can’t remember half of what happened and if you’re anything like me you probably said something awkward at some point. Also, not having a hangover or the post-night out anxiety is totally worth it."
4 of 5

There are places that do sober nights

Kit, 27

"Now that I'm sober, my social life is definitely different. I do still go clubbing, but I find it a lot more tiring – after all, there's only so many cans of Red Bull you can consume in one night. A lot of my social life is based around stuff I can do at home – my partner is disabled and I am their carer – but going sober definitely had an impact. As someone who also comes from the LGBTQ community, there's a real issue with alcohol in our social spaces. There are places that do sober nights (like Choose Your Own Adventure, at DIY Space for London) but they're few and far between. But the people who love you will still love you if you just catch up over coffee, or take up paintballing, or start hosting movie nights at your home."
5 of 5

My social life is better

Beverly, 26

"Going sober was difficult at first, but my friends are all very supportive and understanding even if they do drink themselves. I still like going out to clubs, I still have fun dancing and it's a far cheaper night out. My social life is definitely better, partly because I'm friends with better people than I was when I was drinking but also because I feel more comfortable and safe, and that makes me feel more confident in social spaces. It doesn't have to be a complete lifestyle change, your relationship with alcohol doesn't have to be an all or nothing thing – it's good to find whatever works for you. There are so many places and ways to socialise that never needed alcohol in the first place, so don't worry! You're not going to suddenly become a pariah just because you're less than keen on getting drunk. There are lots of fun ways to socialise sober and you can still enjoy spaces that usually involve drinking too – and mocktails are delightful."
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