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Maintaining Sobriety around Friends who Consume Alcohol

As humans, we tend to surround ourselves with people who share common interests, ideas and hobbies. We’re hard-wired for seeking similarities in others — it makes us feel heard, comfortable and safe. It goes without saying, then, that if you used to be — or currently are — a big drinker, then your friends are too. 

The question is — how do you quit alcohol if all your friends want to do is drink? When you decide to become sober, some friends may feel wary or suspicious of your motives, or simply think you’re not as fun. Peer pressure surrounding drinking and sobriety can be intense. Luckily, being sober around drinkers is possible — even if they are your friends. Read on to learn how to not drink when everyone else is.

6 Tips for Staying Sober Around Drinkers 

Our top suggestions for how to stay sober around drinkers include:

  1. Be honest: Explain to your friends that you want to stop drinking and that sometimes, it’s hard to avoid temptation. Ask for their support — a true friend will understand.
  2. Confide in someone close to you: Having a supportive friend or family member on call for those difficult situations is crucial. If you’re at a party and feel tempted, excuse yourself politely and call a supportive friend to pick you up or support your decision to stay sober. 
  3. Hold a virgin drink: There will be times when you want to attend functions with co-workers or other acquaintances that involve alcohol. It can be challenging to avoid the beverage altogether. If you do find yourself in a situation where it seems as if everyone around you is drinking, try holding a virgin drink that closely resembles alcohol to avoid questioning and curious side glances. If asked, keep your answer direct and honest — “Thank you, but I’m not drinking tonight.”
  4. Be selective about the places and people you hang out with: Decline invitations that you know may trigger you to drink — whether it’s an activity, a time of day, a specific person or a certain place. 
  5. Prepare yourself for questions: When you’re just starting to get some momentum for your sobriety, it can help to say no and be proactive about your decision. Own it, and remember you’re in control. 
  6. Remind yourself why you no longer drink: When faced with pressure and temptation, you may have trouble remembering why you don’t drink anymore. Try writing down your reasons and keeping the list in your purse, on your phone or anywhere you can access it easily.

How to Find Sober Friends 

Once you arm yourself with some strategies to fend off even the most persuasive drinking friends, you may have come to a point where you’re wondering how to meet sober friends. Should you pick up a different hobby or change your attitude? Sometimes it’s just about looking in the right places. Several cities around the world are picking up on people’s need to engage in alcohol-free activities and find a community with like-minded individuals. 

Try conducting a quick internet search in your area for things such as: 

  1. Retreats
  2. Community meetings
  3. Sober movements
  4. Meetups
  5. Alcohol-free bars and raves 
  6. Instagram sobriety groups
  7. Recovery meetings

Finding Sobriety Among Drinker Friends Is Possible 

If your friends drink too much while you’re struggling with staying sober, know you’re not alone. It can be difficult being sober around drinkers. At Gateway Foundation, we take the time to understand the triggers keeping you from staying sober. For over 50 years, our compassionate team of professionals has helped individuals overcome addiction with evidence-based, personalized and life-saving addiction treatment.

Our addiction recovery support groupsaccess to rehab after programs and 12-step meetings,and other treatment options can provide strategies for overcoming addiction or handling triggers and temptations. Contact Gateway Foundation today to learn more about the programs and services that best meet your needs. 

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