It’s time to shatter some stigmas as we break down six myths and misconceptions about going sober
So, you’ve decided to give up or cut back on the booze? Or, at least, you must be thinking about it, right? Well, just know that you’re in good company. According to charity Drinkaware, in 2019, 20% of UK adults didn’t drink alcohol, while research from Eurostat suggests that across Europe, the number could be as high as 26%.
You’ll also know that the consumption of alcohol is often a staple in our everyday lives, and a hot topic of conversation. From the ‘Fancy a pint after work?’ to the ‘Shall we do a bottomless brunch at the weekend?’, beer, wine, cocktails, and bubbly form a massive part of our social activity. So, when you remove the key component from those occasions, what happens?
Well, keep reading to find out, because although some of the stereotypes of going zero percent hold some truth, most are completely inaccurate.
MYTH: You have less fun when you’re not drinking
Remember the first ever time you thought: ‘Woah, that’s fun!’? No, me neither. We were most probably in single digits, and what made us feel that way would have been something so simple, like playing a game with a friend at nursery, blowing bubbles into the air then chasing to pop them, or a fond memory at school like sports day. Funnily enough, none of those enjoyable memories involved alcohol.
Fast-forward 10 to 15 years, and many ‘fun’ activities come with a side of Tequila Rose shots, espresso martinis, and pints of session IPA. But why is that? Why do we need that ‘buzz’ that comes with drinking alcohol to enjoy live music, watch your favourite sports team, or generally hang with your mates?
What I’m trying to say is: when you’re not drinking, you get to choose exactly what you want to do, and when you want to do it. You don’t have to stay out because Sofia’s bought a round of sambucas at 2am, or when Ben’s gone back to the bar for another bottle of Desperados. You can hop in the car and drive home safely. But you can still have fun.
You don’t need Disaronno to dance, or a Sol to socialise. But you do get to find out all of that juicy gossip from those around you – because if you’ve been intoxicated before, you’ll know that you’re slightly more loose-lipped! And the next day, you can get up as fresh as a daisy. Result.
Myth: Not drinking is boring
One of the most common misconceptions about choosing a sober lifestyle is that you’re going to live a dull and uneventful existence. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that without alcohol, life will lose its fun spark. I hate to break it to you, but you’re sort of right. Sure, the first few times you decline a drink might feel a bit awkward, and you might wonder how to navigate social situations without that familiar liquidy crutch. But guess what? As you get more comfortable with your decision, you’ll discover that life is far from boring.
Think about it: all those activities you used to do while under the influence – dancing, going to concerts, attending parties – can be just as enjoyable, if not more so, without alcohol. In fact, you’ll likely find that you’re more present and engaged in the moment. When you’re not preoccupied with maintaining a certain level of intoxication, you’re free to fully experience and remember every precious moment. The world around you becomes clearer, and you’ll appreciate the subtleties you might have missed before. And that’s definitely not boring.
Myth: You get left out of social plans, or conversations, when you’re out
The fear of missing out on social activities and conversations can be a huge concern for those considering sobriety. The worry is that without a drink in hand, you’ll somehow become an outsider in your own social circle. But here’s the reality: while there might be a period where you get used to a slightly different social calendar without alcohol, you won’t be excluded or left out.
In fact, not drinking might open up doors to new friendships and hobbies. People who are genuinely interested in getting to know you won’t mind that you don’t drink alcohol. And remember, the best conversations often happen when you’re fully engaged and clear-headed. So, you likely find yourself involved in more meaningful interactions. And, just remember, your choice of drink doesn’t define you.
Myth: Special occasions aren’t as memorable without a drink
It’s easy to link celebratory moments with a champagne flute in hand, clinking glasses and toasting your loved ones. The fear of missing out on these experiences can be a barrier to choosing sobriety. So, consider this: when you’re not consumed by the effects of alcohol, you’re more likely to remember those special occasions. Your memories won’t be clouded by the fog of intoxication.
Instead of relying on alcohol to create memories, you’ll rely on genuine interactions and the joy of the moment itself. Whether it’s a birthday, a wedding, or a holiday, your presence and engagement will be your most valuable contributions to these events. And the bonus? There won’t be any more embarrassing moments or regrettable actions from drinking too much.
Myth: Everyone will think I’m weird
The fear of being perceived as the odd one out for not drinking is normal. Society often associates drinking with social norms, and stepping outside of these ‘normal’ circumstances can feel uncomfortable. However, it’s important to remember that your choices are about your own wellbeing and priorities, not about conforming to others’ expectations.
While some people might express surprise initially, most will respect your decision once they understand your reasons. In fact, you inspire others to reconsider their own relationship with alcohol. You’ve made, or are making, a big decision by giving up alcohol, and you’ll know the reason why. Being true to yourself and your values is far more important than conforming to perceived social norms.
Myth: You’re going to be stuck drinking soft drinks and tap water
There’s so much to do in life. Different countries to visit. Different cuisines to try. And that extends to your drink choices, too. Choosing sobriety doesn’t mean you’re limited to sipping on still or sparkling water for the rest of your days. There’s a whole world of non-alcoholic beverages waiting to be explored.
Mocktails, beers, spirits, cider, wine, and many creative alcohol-free concoctions can be just as satisfying and enjoyable as their alcoholic counterparts. Plus, with the growing trend of alcohol-free drinks, you’ll find that your options are expanding all the time. Things have moved on drastically since the days of Becks Blue. So, fear not – you won’t be stuck with bland drink choices.
The journey towards an alcohol-free life is about embracing positive change and personal growth. It’s about discovering your true self, experiencing life to the full, and building authentic connections. While there might be challenges and misconceptions to overcome, the rewards are well worth it. So, if you’re on the fence or already considering a sober lifestyle, remember you’re not alone. Why not give it a go? There’s nothing to lose, but so much to gain.