health

My 10 best tips for handling social situations where you’re choosing not to drink.

Seedlip
Thanks to our brand partner, Seedlip

I always thought alcohol would make me more social. 

It took me a long time to realise, ironically, that it was doing the exact opposite. 

I had convinced myself that I had social anxiety around events and gatherings. I thought I couldn’t attend someone’s birthday or go to a night out without first having a few drinks. I thought it made me more approachable, more likeable, more relaxed, more fun. My biggest fear was, god forbid - someone would think I was boring.

Perhaps because alcohol is so normalised in our society, I thought there was no other alternative, or if I did - not an attractive enough one to tempt me in the slightest. 

It wasn’t until December 2019 that I finally became curious about the possibility of living an alcohol-free lifestyle. I made a New Year's resolution that stuck and here we are. More than one year sober and I’m more social than ever. 

If I could go back and tell my younger self something, it would be that giving up drinking is the best thing you could do for your social life and friendships.

I would tell her true sociability lies within the meaningful connections, unadulterated fun and invigorating conversations you have on the nights you can remember. 

I’ve now realised that I don’t think I had social anxiety at all. I just never gave myself the chance to experience events without drinking, so I just assumed they would be more daunting than they actually were. 

As a 25-year-old sober gal, I’ve had to navigate my fair share of social situations in the last year and gosh I’ve learnt a lot. 

Throughout the year, I’ve come to formulate my Sober Survival Guide - aka - my go-to set of tips and tricks to ensure I have the best time when I go out and I’m never feeling uncomfortable or anxious about the choice I’ve made. 

Whether you enjoy a drink, you’re sober-curious or completely sober - here’s a guide on how to socialise without alcohol. 

1. Spice up your drink game

Throughout my sober journey, I’ve come to realise that a lot of the time it wasn’t an alcoholic drink I wanted, but rather the feeling that comes with it. So I tried non-alcohol drinks and found they fill that role perfectly. 

Actually, having a classy and delicious alcohol-free drink in hand has strengthened my sobriety. It takes the focus off the fact I’m not partaking in something, and puts the focus back on what I am partaking in - socialising. 

I’ve tried a lot of non-alcoholic drinks from wines to pale ales, but the one that I keep coming back to are Seedlip drinks. Seedlip is a distilled non-alcoholic spirit that’s most similar to gin, but tastes like it’s very own type of spirit. It has a unique combination of botanicals, herbs and spices that lend themselves well to a refreshing drink mixed with something like tonic, soda or ginger ale. My personal favourite combo is Seedlip Garden with some tonic and lime, or try some fresh mint.

ADVERTISEMENT

They also have ready to drink cans already mixed with flavoured tonics that are great to bring to parties or picnics when you need something convenient.

I’ve recently discovered a new alcohol-free e-bottle shop called Sans Drinks, which has a bundle of Seedlip drinks available so you can try some of their range in one purchase. They’ll also donate $1 of every purchase to the FebFast charity, that helps young Australians affected by alcohol. YAS!

2. Have answers at the ready

When you don’t drink, people will usually want to know why. At the start of my sobriety journey, I didn’t really have a clear cut answer to this question, which left me a bumbling mess trying to quickly breeze over the topic and move onto something else. Now I’ve found that having some answers up your sleeve can really help. Here are a few options on how to respond when someone offers you a drink, or asks why you don’t drink: 

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Have a prepared answer: Usually something short and sweet will suffice and will deter any further probing. I quite like, "I’ve found that I’m a better version of myself when I don’t drink," or "I feel better without drinking". No one can argue with that! 

  • Don’t go into details: If you’re not in the mood to make your not-drinking into a topic of conversation, then you can simply say, "I’m not drinking tonight".

  • Use it as a point of connection: I used to think that alcohol was my largest connector with people, but I’ve since discovered that talking about the reasons I’ve given it up has been an ever bigger one - if you’re comfortable with discussing it. Whether they’re with long time friends or people you’ve just met, you can talk about your reasons for not drinking and how great you feel, and usually, there'll be a broader conversation in how they can relate.

3. Make sure people know you’re not drinking before you go

Letting your loved ones and friends know you’re not drinking ahead of time not only saves you a lot of those ‘whyyyy’ questions on the day, but also means they can ensure they have non-alcoholic options for you on the day if they’re hosting.

It doesn’t have to be a big deal, and you can just reiterate that you’re still keen to have a good time (not that you should have to do this - but it can help.) Here’s a little template of what you could say:

4. Organise events that don’t revolve around drinking

It wasn’t until after I stopped drinking that I realised just how much my social life revolved around having a drink. Boozeless brunches, grabbing ‘drinks’, after work ‘drinks’ - you name it. 

I know this article is about how to handle social situations when you’re choosing not to drink - but an easy way to do this is by organising social situations where alcohol isn’t the centre of attention in the first place. 

ADVERTISEMENT

You could do something active when catching up with a friend like going for a walk, a hike or rockclimbing, or choose something like attending a talk or workshop together. 

5. Bring your own fun

Is it just me, or is there this unspoken feeling when you’re drinking that you’re all just waiting for something wild/fun/crazy to happen? You’re just hoping for the alcohol to ‘kick in’ and create the fun for you. 

When you don’t drink, you’ve got to bring your own fun with you, whether that means bringing your best self and all the energy/clarity that comes with not drinking, or literally bringing fun stuff with you. 

If I’m going to an event that I know will be based around drinking, I’ll always chuck a couple of games in my bag to ensure there’s something else to do. My favourites include critical thinking card games by Flex Factory as well as conversation cards by We Are Not Really Strangers, and if it’s an outside thing, then Finska or Petanque are always a good time.

Never Have I Ever can still be fun when you’re not drinking! 

6. Host events yourself

ADVERTISEMENT

If you’re finding that a lot of the events you’re invited to are centred around alcohol, then take the situation into your own hands and host an event yourself. That way, you can set the tone and vibe. Of course, you can invite your friends to drink as well, but oftentimes they’ll find it enjoyable to abstain too.

For example, I held a sobriety party for myself to celebrate six months of not drinking, and although I told my friends they could still drink - most of them chose not to for the night as well. We spent the night sitting around playing games and having great chats. 

Sobriety party! 

Other ideas for gatherings I’d like to host in the future include boozeless beers and boardgames, as well as an alcohol-free cocktail karaoke and BYO cheese night. 

 

My sobriety party set up. 

7. Keep yourself busy

ADVERTISEMENT

If you’re finding it difficult/boring/triggering to hang around people who are drinking at an event, keep yourself occupied by finding other things to do. Maybe you could help out with the cooking, make it your task to mingle with new people, play a game or just hang out near the food (my favourite move.) 

8. Own the designated driver thing

Being the ‘deso’ has gotten a bad rap over the years but I say own it. What’s not great about being in control of your night, saving money and leaving whenever you want? Nothing! Plus, all your friends will totally love you. Win win win. 

9. Find your sober sisters

Finding a group of friends that also don’t drink can be a great way to socialise in a way that suits you. It’s also great for support, connection and encouragement if you’re on a sobriety journey. 

I’ve recently found a great online community called unwsted which is an Australian-based sober community for young women that hosts events, free exercise groups and talks/panels regularly. Psst.. they also have an online bottle shop that sells Seedlip!

I recently went to a boozeless brunch with unwsted and met so many amazing and inspiring people. It really reinforced my idea that you can be fun and interesting without drinking.

10. Back yourself

The more events you go to, the more you'll realise how easy it is to go booze-free. Confidence will come with time.  

Once you back yourself and really believe in your decision, you can start to embrace the alcohol-free life and the super self-assured version of yourself that comes with it. 

Seedlip

Seedlip, the world's first distilled non alcoholic spirits range, is available to buy online and iStore from Dan Murphy's, David Jones, BWS and independent bottle shops. Try our signature serve at home, which is 50ml of Seedlip over ice, with tonic & a garnish. For more recipes visit: seedlipdrinks.com/au or find us on Instagram @seedlipAus_NZ.