“A man who drinks too much on occasion is still the same man as he was sober. An alcoholic, a real alcoholic, is not the same man at all. You can’t predict anything about him for sure except that he will be someone you never met before.”
– Raymond Chandler, U.S. novelist and author of “The Long Goodbye”
I no longer drink alcohol. I’m no longer a “drinker.” To be 100% truthful, however, in my heart, yes, I still am. And the thing is, I probably always will be.
The thing is, alcohol and I don’t mix very well. As the quote above explains, I was one completely different man when I was drunk (which, back then, was pretty often). When I had a drink in my hand, propped up against the bar in our local watering hole, and putting the world to rights, the decent part of me retreated into the shadows, and a loud, arrogant idiot took his place. Yes, ‘loud, arrogant idiot’ perfectly sums up what I was back then when I was drunk. Finally, and thankfully, I kicked him into touch. He left the day I resolved to sort out my drinking problem, to find treatment, and to say “Goodbye” to alcohol. Turns out, it was a little bit more than just a “drinking problem”…
I have a sound, professional career, amounting to a well-paid job with a large corporation. I have a wonderful wife and a couple of teenage kids, all of whom I absolutely adore. I had, and still have, thankfully, a pretty good life, all said and done. However, I came exceptionally close to losing it all. Boom! All gone. So very close. All because of my love (and unquenchable lust) for drinking alcohol, getting drunk, and then drinking more. So close to changing my life forever for the worse.
I never thought about it as a “problem,” even though things were heading south. Fortunately, after my wife threatened to move state for the sake of the kids (and her, I have no doubt), and after one written warning too many at work, I was, to coin a phrase, in the “last-chance saloon.” Thankfully, I made the right choice. I took my chance.
I still enjoy a great social life. I just do it without alcohol. And I have a good time. Here’s how – my “5 Top Tips to Enjoying Your Night Out without Booze.” Read on, if you’re of a mind.
1. Not Drinking is Your Decision
Many people (certainly, friends who knew you before) will obviously enquire about your “abstinence.” It’s 100% up to you what level of honesty you decide upon. For example, “No, not tonight” is an honest response. Not the whole picture, but it’s honest. Or “I’ve given up the demon drink” is another honest response. You could go the whole hog… “Actually, I’ve just come out of rehab, and I intend to live my life clean and sober from now on.” Clearly, this last one will invite more questions, so be prepared for them.
One thing all of those responses have in common is this – honesty. Whatever you reply to such questions, be honest. With them and with yourself. You’ll feel better for it.
However you choose to declare your new “no drinking” status, apart from always being honest with your answers, is this. Please, please don’t go on about it, imparting a tedious monologue of how you found recovery, changed your life for the better, and so on. It’s your decision, you don’t drink anymore, clean and simple. Don’t make yourself the “sober martyr.”
2. Going Out = Not Going Drinking
Yes, now, that’s obvious. But it never was in the first place. Going out used to be about going out to see friends, to socialize, to catch up, to have a laugh. The drinking side of it was, at first, inconsequential. Simply because people socialize in bars and clubs and at parties (or other places where alcohol is available), the main point has always been to be with friends, people you like. Therefore, nothing’s changed, has it? It’s just now you don’t drink. Simple.
Here’s my little secret. If you find this aspect all a bit too alien, ease yourself in. At first, I went to comedy clubs, either alone or with my wife. Alcohol was available, but it didn’t matter so much. I had the funny man or woman on stage to focus on (plus, I could remember many more jokes to share with friends and work colleagues when I met up with them).
3. What’s a Freakin’ “Mocktail”?
That was my first response when my wife suggested it one night when we were out with friends. So what follows now is my education about “mocktails…”
Mocktails are non-alcoholic (that’s the important part) mixes of different spices, fruits, vegetables, herbs, or juices – mock cocktails, in other words. And, when they’re made right, they are de-li-cious. Seriously tasty and refreshing. The only thing to remember if you’re a “straight man” – don’t let them put a little umbrella in it. Try one!
4. Get Yourself Organized
My drinking had reached the point where I often drank before work, and at the weekends, I sometimes started before the kids were even out of bed. That’s how bad it had gotten.
Here’s my advice. If you are trying hard not to drink, get yourself organized. Organizing all the important stuff the night before to be done the next day was a major help with this. It gets you busy. I’m an early bird now, much to my family’s amusement, showered and dressed. and getting on with the day.
5. Get Yourself Fit (-ter)
As a college kid, I ran track. I was quick too. I always had the energy to just run and run. Then, well, life took over. It kind of happens that way, doesn’t it? Then I started drinking, and, back then, smoking too. Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t so quick anymore.
Many years later, when I finally quit drinking, I was so unfit. So I decided to join a local running club – not competing (!) or anything, just pounding the neighborhood streets with a group of fellow like-minded individuals – all of us, just trying to getter fit. Most of us managed it too.
Now that I feel much healthier, my energy levels are considerably higher. Kids sya, “Dad, can we all go cycling?” I always say “Yes” now. Before? Well, you can imagine… So that’s my last piece of advice on “5 Top Tips to Enjoying Your Night Out without Booze.” Get fit. Nobody (and I mean – nobody) gets fit by drinking alcohol regularly. Certainly, not as fit as they could be.
5 Top Tips That Work For People Like Us
That’s, of course, if you are like I once was. These are your 5 pieces of advice…
- Not Drinking is Your Decision
- Going Out = Not Going Drinking
- What’s a Freakin’ “Mocktail”?
- Get Yourself Organized
- Get Yourself Fit (-ter)
They work too. Before you know it, you won’t even think about not drinking alcohol when you go out – it will just become a natural thing.
What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t want to drink when they go out? What are your experiences of doing this? Please, feel free to leave a comment below to share with other readers. Thanks, good luck. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!