Day 24 of Sober January
After a holiday weekend spent playing in the snow, I sit down at Harrah's steakhouse with a buddy. He orders a bottle of wine with his dinner. Martinis, cosmopolitans, and manhattans are whizzing by on waiters’ trays, while brandied meats and flaming desserts are all around me.
The pressure is on. After all, a few cocktails before a slab of beef and big salad are one of my favorite pastimes. I sense the urge to have one drink. Come on, it’s just one….
I pinch my muffin top in desperation…and It’s noticeably smaller. It’s exciting and rewarding to feel real progress. Just three weeks in, I find I no longer need to use willpower. My physical improvement is now what motivates me. I’ve been out and about, socializing with folks, playing dice—even sitting at the card table where alcohol is free—all while not drinking. The clarity I have gained is remarkable.
The wine arrives. I hand my unused stem glass to our server and order a tumbler of sparkling water with citrus. I’m all set.
A few things came up this weekend: maybe this is easier for me because I’m naturally a social butterfly and go-getter. But what about folks who aren’t, or who may be having challenges socializing during this stage of Dry-uary. I’ve been thinking about how to make activities, people, and events that typically involve alcohol just as interesting without the booze.
Here’s what I came up with:
Get creative by choosing new and different activities. Pick ones where you will be accepted for just showing up. Last weekend I went snowboarding, which I had never done before. I’ve started making pasta from scratch. I am getting back into tap dancing.
Socialize with intention. Reorganize your outings so they have an event focus vs. a drinking focus. I’m practicing my skills in the kitchen, and my friends participate in making the meal rather than guzzling drinks while waiting to be served. It’s more fun for everyone. We are still getting together and having a good time, just with fizzy water in our hands instead of beers or cocktails.
Do not stay home hiding from your friends. Get out and be social. Plan engagements with friends. Peer support will help you through the challenges and being social will help prepare your mind to be strong when alcohol is available.
Find creative ways to drink without drinking. A huge part of social drinking is appearances—fitting in and not being the odd one out. You can easily do this without the FOMO. Tonic water with a lime squeeze looks and tastes pretty darn close to a real gin and tonic. And I never thought I would say this, but non-alcoholic beer is tasty. The brewing techniques have clearly come a long way and if you enjoy a crisp cold beer, it really scratches that itch. Lagunitas also has a new product called HOP which is hop-flavored fizzy water. It’s somewhere between NA beer and seltzer, and it’s surprisingly good, plus you get to be seen holding a Lagunitas bottle not a lame diet soda. Also there are zero calories or sugars so you do not get the carbs of beer. And if you’re not worried about calories, plenty of places are experimenting with flavorful mock-tails served in proper cocktail glasses with stylish garnishes.
The imperative for success is compassion for yourself. We all have busy lives, but just take a moment to appreciate you. Reward yourself by acknowledging all you have accomplished. You are doing great. You are feeling great. You are a beautiful being.
You got this.