Alcohol is the most commonly used mind-altering substance in America, with more than 80% of Americans having consumed alcohol at least once in their lives. Many individuals associate having fun with friends and family with drinking together, but these two are not mutually exclusive. While our culture often glorifies alcohol use and insinuates that drinking is a staple of a good time, there are plenty of things you can do to have fun that don’t require drinking.
You have the right and power to refuse a drink when offered one, but it’s also perfectly normal to plan a fun activity that doesn’t involve drinking at all. Whether you’re in recovery from a substance use disorder, exploring how sobriety can positively affect your health, or simply don’t wish to partake for a variety of reasons, building a list of things you can do for fun without drinking can be a great way to kickstart your social life without the influence of alcohol.
There’s a time and place to be serious, such as at work or during a recovery meeting, but you also need time to relax and enjoy your life. Just because you’re not drinking doesn’t mean your life needs to be boring or uneventful. We hope that with the following tips, you can gain some insight into how to have fun without drinking.
Is Being Sober Boring?
You may be asking yourself this question. Alcohol and a good time are not as interwoven as you may think. Still, you may fear becoming bored or seeming like a boring person without alcohol for these reasons:
- You may be used to grouping alcohol and fun together
- You experience quick mood changes
- You feel like you forgot who you were before alcohol became a part of your life
- You’re experiencing withdrawals and don’t know how to manage them.
Fortunately, the reality is that there are more ways to have fun that don’t involve alcohol than there are ways that do. Plus, these activities won’t damage your physical and emotional health in the process. Drinking excessively can result in significant health problems, including substance use disorder, liver damage, depression and anxiety, and more – and being drunk doesn’t mean you’re having fun and enjoying your life.
What is Sober Curiosity?
Unfortunately, the perceived norm is for people to drink in social settings – often more than they should – and many of these people find it difficult to stop drinking when it becomes necessary. Still, others become dependent on alcohol to function normally, a condition known as substance use disorder. However, there’s more to life than drinking, and more and more people have come to this realization while questioning their relationships with alcohol. A movement dedicated to exploring sobriety has become popular in recent years, and much of it stems from TikTok.
The Sober Curious Movement formed when a community of people decided to try out sobriety, even for a short period. Popular sobriety “holidays” like Sober October and Dry January quickly became popular, and word spread on social media platforms like TikTok. The overarching thought process is that for those who are not addicted to alcohol, trying out a period of sobriety can have emotional and physical health benefits. TikTok enabled people to share videos of their progress, thoughts, and feelings about the Sober Curious Movement, and many users viewed these videos and considered trying sobriety out for themselves.
Today, Generation Z, the generation most commonly using TikTok, has shown a marked interest in sobriety. This age group is more inclined to have fun without alcohol, which could lead to a positive future.
Tips for Having Fun Without Alcohol
In case you’re still skeptical, we’ve compiled several different activities to consider that don’t require any alcohol to be enjoyable. Society may have convinced you that you can only have fun if drinking is involved, but we’re ready to show you this isn’t the case. These are the top ways you can have fun that don’t involve alcohol.
Hit the Gym
It’s commonly understood that exercise can improve your mood, your physical health, and even your appearance by keeping your weight under control. Even going for a walk for half an hour counts as exercise and can provide many benefits. However, exercising on your own can be socially isolating, which is why we suggest going to the gym.
For instance, consider going to the gym alongside other members of your friend or family group or even enrolling in a fun class. This gets everyone exercising together while strengthening your social bonds, as well. When you and those around you feel better, both physically and mentally, after a great workout, you may be keen on visiting the gym at regular intervals, too.
Attend Alcohol-Free Social Events
You might have a neighbor that loves to barbeque, but their social events get rowdy with beer served all night. Similarly, someone may be hosting a trivia night at the local bar, which is unappealing to you. If attending other social activities is daunting due to the alcohol served, consider creating your own event.
You might want to join a Sober Curious social media group to meet others in your area who are also refraining from alcohol. Or, round up friends and family who are supportive of your sobriety. If you all share an interest in video games, board games, movies, sports, or other activities, create an event that focuses on your shared interest. Not only do you not have to worry about any drinks, but you all get to enjoy doing something you love. Likewise, if another sober-curious-minded person is organizing an event without alcohol, consider giving it a try – you may meet new people or find a hobby that’s enjoyable.
Exploring nature and taking in some gorgeous views can be both relaxing and entertaining. Fresh air, in general, can get you outdoors and improve your mood, thanks to the sun’s UV rays providing you with vitamin D. Even if you don’t want to go on a lengthy road trip or take a walk, you can take a drive around your local neighborhood. While driving, you can play your favorite music or podcasts and detach from the stresses of real life.
If you’re more adventurous, you can get a group of friends to take a hike together. Even walking a standard trail can be fun, allowing you and your friends to catch up on life events and maybe take in some scenic views. You can also take a walk on your own while you listen to the sounds of nature, something many people don’t experience often enough.
Interact With Kids
Whether you have kids of your own, you love interacting with cousins, nieces, or nephews, or you’re planning to volunteer at an event, kids are the world’s number one customers for alcohol-free fun. It can be as simple as asking if your child wants to go to a park with their friends, then tagging along and either joining the fun or supervising them. A family get-together with many kids involved may also be a great idea to both enjoy your time and avoid the desire to drink. You and your kids will be focused on enjoying one another, which means you won’t have to worry about wanting a drink.
If you don’t have kids, you can volunteer at various places that serve kids. Volunteering with an organization like Girls and Boys Club of America, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, or even your local church group can be a great way to serve your local community without alcohol. You will likely find the task at hand fulfilling as well.
Only Purchase Things That Make You Happy
A night out on the town can get expensive, especially when you’re buying drinks. Some people may spend a good chunk of their paycheck on alcohol every weekend, only to wake up hungover. For people with severe SUD, most, if not all, income may go straight toward more of the substance that’s hurting them. Rather than spending your hard-earned money on drinks, put it toward something that’s more fulfilling.
Do you need a new couch for your living room? Is there a video game you’ve been interested in buying? Have you considered taking a vacation with your family? Spending money on alcohol frequently can wipe out your savings quickly, but without alcohol in your life, you could finally make that fun purchase you’ve been dreaming of.
Document Your Journey
We mentioned earlier that TikTok has given a home to the Sober Curious Movement. That’s why making videos of your progress and your sober curious journey can be fun and interesting for both you and others. Plus, you’re more likely to build a community of people who feel just like you.
Whether you just stopped drinking or quit a long time ago, and whether you are in recovery from SUD or are simply giving Sober October a try, telling stories online about your experiences and sharing them with others is a great way to help them and yourself. You could consider writing blog posts, creating videos for TikTok or YouTube, or forming a local Sober Curious fun group for your area on Facebook or Instagram. Of course, there will be critics online, so be mindful of this if you decide to build an online presence.
Join a Recovery Group
If you decide to stop drinking, we don’t want you to box yourself in at home, too. You may not have any close friends who don’t drink, or your family may not be supportive of your decision to try sobriety. Sometimes, the best way to meet new people who have similar interests as you is to attend a recovery meeting.
It’s commonly believed that recovery meetings are depressing or too serious, but this isn’t always true. Sometimes, meetings are about everyone catching up on their progress, telling funny stories, or doing other activities as a group. We can assure you that recovery meetings can be fun at times, and meetings are how you build a community of people committed to the same things you are.
Reconsider How You Define Fun
We want you to keep one more tip in mind, which is to reframe how you think about the term “fun.” If you’re at a point where things are only fun when you’re drinking, you’re not participating in activities you find fun on their own at all. By contrast, when you’re sober, you have a much better gauge of what you truly find fun and interesting. If drinking is what makes the event fun, then you should consider not attending at all and exploring things that interest you without the crutch of alcohol.
Also, think about what others’ definition of “fun” really is. If your friends are begging you to come drink with them when you’ve made it clear you’re not interested, then it may be time to let them go. These people may not be interested in spending time with you or catching up on how things are going – they’re more interested in drinking alongside you. People who are not drinking can instead meet up with others for a game of basketball or a cup of coffee and truly focus on the activity they’re participating in and the friends and family members they’re with. True relationships are formed or strengthened through these activities, and if your friends are only coming to you for drinks, you may want to reconsider these relationships.
As challenging as it sounds to reconsider your definition of fun and your relationships with others who prioritize drinking, remember that your physical and mental health matter most. Prioritize people who prioritize you. You’ll find that people who genuinely care about you will come into your life naturally as you develop interests outside of alcohol.
Join Our Recovery Community at Addiction Freedom Now
If you’ve been wondering how to have fun without drinking, we hope you’ve gathered some ideas. As you can see, you can have plenty of fun and memorable experiences without needing alcohol. Surround yourself with others who are on the same path or who are supportive of your choices, and you may see your social life really blossom.
Whether you were previously diagnosed with SUD, fear you’re at risk of alcohol addiction or are exploring what your life may be like without alcohol, we encourage you to join our addiction recovery community. Addiction Freedom Now provides resources to help people from all walks of life find recovery and fight the stigma surrounding SUD. There’s no shame in struggling with substance use disorder or even wondering if you may be relying on alcohol to have a good time. No matter where you are, you can live a fulfilling, positive, and fun life without any substances.
- Alcohol Use in the United States: Age Groups and Demographic Characteristics | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). (2023). Www.niaaa.nih.gov. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohol-topics/alcohol-facts-and-statistics/alcohol-use-united-states-age-groups-and-demographic-characteristics
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, November 1). Benefits of Physical Activity. CDC.gov; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm
- Wacker, M., & Holick, M. F. (2013). Sunlight and Vitamin D. Dermato-Endocrinology, 5(1), 51–108. https://doi.org/10.4161/derm.24494