After publicising my sober life on the World Wide Web for the first time, I was surprised by the number of messages I received. Some were from people saying they were inspired to stop drinking, others telling stories from their own sober journeys. Some were inspiring and humbling, others were a pretty shocking reflection of our drinking culture. So, I decided to round them up into a list of Sober FAQs. Be prepared: if you’re going sober, you’re going to be asked a lot of questions.
“You’re sober? What, like, forever?”
By far the question I was asked the most. This really made me stop and think about what my new sober life looked like for me. I say “for me” because I’ve realised that the sober curious journey is a personal one and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. I knew I didn’t want to go back to old ways, to mindless drinking and operating at 50% capacity with a side of hangxiety. But did I see my life without the odd glass of wine or champagne…honestly? No.
I knew being teetotal* wasn’t my goal. Sober life was what I was striving for – to enjoy the moment but to not get lost in mindless excess. A bit like enjoying a slice of cake but not gorging on the entire thing, Bruce Bogtrotter style. Again, this is my personal approach and for anyone that is thinking of giving the sober lifestyle a go, I would first encourage you to find your reasons for quitting and the goals you’d like to achieve and work out your plan from there.
|*A teetotal definition is, “someone who completely abstains from alcoholic beverages”, whereas sober is, “not drunk; not giving in to excessive drinking of alcohol”.|
“Are you an alcoholic?”
No, I’m not, which I feel very lucky to be able to say because, to some extent, I can control my relationship with alcohol and not have to be completely teetotal. Instead, I can re-wire it from slightly dysfunction to a healthy relationship. But, as mentioned above, this isn’t the case for everyone. For some people, even a drop of alcohol is enough to make them slip back into old, unwanted habits. Which is why I mention again that this is a personal journey and there are no wrong or right approaches to your sober lifestyle. Only what works for you to achieve your goals.
“But how do you go out if you’re sober?”
Top tip: go out with people you like, to venues with a good atmosphere and music you enjoy. If you need to get mindlessly drunk to enjoy the club/bar you’re in, odds are it’s probably not that great and you should invest your time in a place where you will actually have fun.
“How do you hang out with your friends?”
Similarly, if you need to get drunk to hang out with your friends, maybe it’s time to question whether they’re really the type of people you want to be friends with?
“Sober dating: How do you do that?”
I wish I could say that sober dating is a walk in the park, but the truth is it’s not. The special potion you thought made you relax, lower your inhibitions and fill you with fake confidence? That’s not on the menu anymore.
One great thing is you get to experience all those incredible feelings in their entirety – the highs and the lows – and, after you finish a sober date, you can congratulate yourself for going out of your comfort zone. Plus, when you do finally like someone you know that it’s genuine and not because of beer goggles.
“You’re sober? Are you becoming a vegan too?”
An odd question that I got asked a lot. I am currently not a vegan but what I do hope is that not drinking alcohol becomes as normal as someone eating a vegan meal in a restaurant, or saying they’re cutting out dairy. It wasn’t too long ago that vegans weren’t catered for in mainstream dining, but now the tables have very much turned. Restaurants find themselves frowned upon for not catering to the vegan customer. For now, I still cringe every time I ask for a non-alcoholic option and I get offered a coke or an orange juice to go with my £50-a-head meal. I no longer accept these as options to avoid “making a fuss”. I hope that by demanding and expecting better from restaurants, bars and pubs that they will raise their standards instead of treating non-drinkers as second best customers.