Recovery from alcohol addiction can seem like a constant uphill battle. When it comes to going out and having a good time, finding alcohol alternatives can seem tricky or even embarrassing—especially when you’re hanging out with non-sober friends. However, staying sober and having a great time with friends are not mutually exclusive, and finding alcohol-free drinks to enjoy, whether you were having a night on the town or having friends over for dinner, can be fairly simple.
We think not.
Going alcohol-free during social events can help you continue in your recovery while also helping you regain your social life after deciding to stop drinking alcohol.
It may seem intimidating to try to order a drink without alcohol in a social setting where other people are drinking, but your sobriety shouldn’t keep you from enjoying the things and people you love. In fact, consider that people order non-alcoholic drinks all the time—it’s not a new phenomenon and it’s certainly not something you should be ashamed of. Even for people who do drink, a glass of iced tea or even water is often more appealing and more refreshing than alcohol. In addition, many alcoholic beverages are based on these tasty, staple drinks.
No matter the stage of your recovery journey, it’s important to recognize the situations where you feel the need to drink. Then, you can establish coping mechanisms to help limit those cravings or triggers and order non-alcoholic versions of your favorite beverages. Together, these two changes can help you once again enjoy socializing with your friends and family.
What Are Some Steps To Living Alcohol-Free?
Living alcohol-free can be hard. Individuals in recovery definitely understand the struggles of maintaining your sobriety, especially around other people who aren’t sober. One of the ways that your sobriety can be tested is in social settings that serve alcohol. Being around a steady source of alcohol, or around other people who are drinking, can be a major trigger for anyone on their sobriety journey, regardless of timeline.
Some of the best ways to help keep you alcohol-free, especially in these settings, include:
Cutting out Alcohol
This sounds like a no-brainer, but cutting out any alcohol, including access to alcohol, is one of the biggest steps toward living alcohol-free. Especially in early sobriety, avoiding events where you know that alcohol will be served, or attending events where drinking is an expected activity, can be good for helping you avoid temptation. When you’re ready to socialize in these settings again, do so with care.
Knowing Your Triggers
Similarly to cutting out all forms of alcohol from your life, knowing what triggers you and what contributes to your drinking is key to limiting cravings or relapse throughout your sobriety journey. For some, this means that bars or pubs can be uncomfortable, and working up the courage and willpower to be in the settings after maintaining your sobriety can take a long time.
Finding Drink Alternatives
Alcohol has a way of creating a routine within us. During an active alcohol addiction, people typically create schedules revolving around this addiction, including go-to drinks. Finding an alternative to your once-favorite alcoholic beverage is a great way to encourage sobriety and be mindful of developing a timeline toward recovery.
Living alcohol-free is as much about the mindset as it is about your actions. If you take the right steps to avoid alcohol and avoid unnecessary alcohol-related triggers in your life, you can start living completely alcohol-free. Steering yourself away from alcohol dependency and toward sobriety is a difficult process, but the more you encourage yourself to live without alcohol, the easier it becomes to reach recovery.
What Drinks Can You Make Virgin?
The number of drinks you can craft in a virgin version is seemingly endless. As mentioned, most alcoholic beverages are some kind of spirit mixed with fruit juice, soda, and other flavor additives like herbs or bitters. That makes creating alcohol-free versions of these drinks fairly simple. For example, flavorful mixed drinks like a Moscow Mule, typically made with vodka, can be made alcohol–free simply by removing the liquor, leaving you with a delicious mix of ginger beer, mint, and lime juice. Other drinks, like daiquiris or Pina Coladas, are typically offered on restaurant menus as non-alcoholic beverages. Simply asking a server or bartender to make sure the drink is alcohol-free is a common way to avoid alcohol.
Sometimes, the easiest drinks to make virgin are those that already come without alcohol, and sticking to these beverages can help keep you on your journey towards sobriety. Arnold Palmers, club soda with lime, or even just a regular lemonade can be a delicious drink option when you’re out on the town, and these simple drinks are guaranteed to be alcohol-free. The range of possibilities for tasty drinks with no alcohol is endless, whether you’re seeking fun drinks while out to dinner or looking for your next dinner party refreshments.
What Can I Use Instead of Alcohol in a Drinking Game?
Going to a house party, especially with friends, often leads to some form of game or late-night entertainment. Whether your friend group has a penchant for cards or board games, pressure to involve alcohol in these games can be hard when you’re trying to stay sober. Even harder is leaving while knowing your friends are having a great time playing a game you used to enjoy. Fortunately, drinking games can be played without alcohol, mainly via drink substitution.
For example, you and your buddies want to relive your college days with some cup pong. The rules of the game are simple: after making a shot into your opponent’s cups, you take a swig of your drink. The goal is to knock out as many cups on your opponent’s side without sacrificing your own, and the forfeit is having to chug the contents of the cups left on your side. Having a non-alcoholic drink in hand during a game of pong is a great way to avoid alcohol in these situations, and filling a corresponding number of cups with your drink of choice can be just as satisfying for your friends who have bested you in the game.
How Do You Ask For a Non-Alcoholic Drink?
It can seem intimidating to order non-alcoholic drinks, especially when out at a restaurant with new people. Facing judgment for your choices can, sadly, be a common reality for sober people. In most situations, breaching the topic of sobriety with friends or close relatives can be easier than approaching this on an occasion like a first date, where your first impression is being tested by your partner.
Depending on the situation, as well as the people involved, asking for a non-alcoholic drink can be simple. For going out, these are some of the most common ways to ask a server or bartender for a non-alcoholic beverage:
Look Through Your Restaurant’s Drink Options in Advance
It seems like a no-brainer, but viewing the establishment’s complete menu of drink options in advance can help you find something you’re comfortable having, like a tea or soda. Or, you might find something interesting that you may not have considered before. For example, some places offer drinks based on regional cuisines that you couldn’t get at other restaurants, like horchata from Mexico or lassi from India, expanding your palate without alcohol. No matter the case, it might help to practice your order ahead of time if you’re concerned about stumbling over your words.
Look for a Mocktail Menu
There’s no shame in asking for a mocktail when you’re out with friends. In fact, as of late, mocktail menus are becoming more common at restaurants and bars. As more people choose to live an alcohol-free lifestyle, normalizing mocktails or non-alcoholic drinks over traditional cocktails is a great way for businesses to cater to all crowds of people, creating an inclusive environment for all guests. In most situations, these mocktail menus are filled with drinks that sound like mixed drinks, taking away some of the pressure that comes with ordering a non-alcoholic beverage, making it easier to assimilate, and avoiding bringing up sobriety for those uncomfortable with discussing it.
Ask For a Fun Drink to be Made Virgin
As mentioned above, asking for a drink to be made virgin is a common way to avoid drinking alcohol without stepping outside your norm. Some drinks, like pina coladas or strawberry daiquiris, are sometimes offered as both virgin and non-virgin on different menus. Other drinks, like most mixed drinks that have a few different components, can use the other ingredients alongside a mixer like soda water. Simply ask for a virgin version of your favorite drink, or ask for the nonalcoholic components alone. For example, ask for a virgin margarita or an orange juice with a splash of soda.
For your first time out after reaching sobriety, it may be a bit stressful to try and order a drink without alcohol. However, there are many ways to do so that won’t put you in an uncomfortable situation. Between fun mocktails to interesting drinks that don’t contain any alcohol to begin with, your options for staying alcohol-free during a night out are sure to keep you on the path towards sobriety.
Fun, Easy to Make Alcohol-Free Beverages
One of the best ways to experiment with your taste when it comes to making alcohol-free beverages is by trying new recipes at home. Here’s a list of some tasty recipes for those looking for alcohol-free beverages.
Keep It Simple
Whether you’re making drinks at home or ordering during a night out with friends, remember that the vast majority of the drinks adults consume on a daily basis don’t have any alcohol at all. Determine your tastes, order a drink you like, and enjoy your friends without the fog of alcohol clouding the experience.
Remember: one of the best ways to help you feel comfortable in these situations is to be open and honest with your friends. If they can’t see why sobriety is important to you, it may be time to re-evaluate your friend group.
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