Staying Sober When Out With Friends
Health | Sobriety

Staying Sober When Out With Friends

It’s taken me a year and a half of sobriety to be able to write this blog post about staying sober when out with friends. I really thought that I’d never be able to have fun again with my friends if I wasn’t drinking. But after 18 months of not drinking alcohol, I can confidently say that staying sober and having fun can live within the same sentence. 

Something shifted in me on the night of my friend’s bachelorette party in July. We were doing a staycation bachelorette with about seven other girls and decided to hit up Le Baratin for our dinner. This restaurant poses as a classy, French establishment, but it’s probably the most wild restaurant experience I’ve had in NYC. I was served moules frites while my friend was twerking on top of her seat with an espresso martini in one hand. And another bachelorette attendee was getting low to “Get Low” by Lil Jon. The music was blasting, the drinks were flowing, and I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having while staying sober. 

That night, I drank a lot of Coca-Cola and stayed up until about 4 am, partying with my girls. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol. I was truly shocked by how much fun I had dancing on chairs and tables. And even when we all got back to the hotel, and my friends were stuffing their faces with pizza, drunkenly talking about stupid shit, and doing crazy little dances, I was fully entertained and still having a ball. 

This feeling of euphoria while staying sober when out with friends has continued over the last few months. I went to Croatia with my now husband to attend my friend’s wedding. The whole week was a giant rager with lots of partying. I was barely affected by the amount of alcohol that was in my face at every turn. I stuck to my non-alcoholic beers and Cokes, and still managed to have the time of my life. This was another instance where I realized that I’m finally able to have fun when staying sober.

I had my wedding a few weeks ago and again, I barely thought about alcohol. I was dancing with my friends and family members, lip-synced a Vanessa Carlton song while on stage, and even jumped in a pool with all my clothes on—all while completely sober. And it was fun.  

I can’t even tell you what a relief it’s been to finally get to this point. I was getting worried that fun things to do while sober were minimal, and that I would never feel the euphoria I once felt while out on the dance floor with a vodka soda in hand. That is not the case for me anymore. Below, you’ll find my best tips for staying sober when out with friends (whether it’s for a long-term sobriety goal, or just for the night). Believe me, I know how hard it can be! 

Staying Sober When Out With Friends

Staying Sober When Out With Friends

Go out with a sober friend

One of my greatest hacks is to go out partying with friends, and bring along a friend who is also sober. I have a friend who also doesn’t drink. We are in the same friend group with other gals who are drinkers. It’s always nice to have her by my side at any social event. Although we both don’t drink, we feed off each other’s wild energy and like to hype each other up without alcohol. It’s nice to have her to talk to if and when things start to get too rowdy. Or if I need a break from the dance floor or something. 

Don’t fall into peer pressure

Peer pressure can be the death of your sobriety—don’t fall into it! If you have friends who are trying to pressure you to drink, even after you’ve told them that you are trying to stay sober, my best advice would be to avoid those friends until you are really stable in your sobriety. I’ve actually never experienced peer pressure after I told my friends I wasn’t drinking anymore. But I know this can happen to a lot of other folks. 

fun sober activities with friends

Do some fun sober activities with your friends

Guess what: There is a fun time outside the bar, I promise! There are so many fun sober activities to do in the city. And this is a great way to avoid alcohol altogether. Try to bring your friends who drink and see if they enjoy doing things that aren’t always involving alcohol. 

Find good music

I feel like my sober partying life changed when I realized that, to have fun while sober, you must find the good music. I’ve been out with friends while sober at clubs and bars, and when the music doesn’t hit, I’m pretty miserable. But when we were in Croatia this past summer, we all found a bar that was bopping the jams, and all of us were dancing like crazy. I realized that I can have an amazing night out with friends if there is good music playing that I like, that’s easy to dance to. I think this is a really important factor. If you’re out with your drinking friends at a rave, and you hate rave music, you’re going to have a pretty miserable time without drugs or alcohol. So, find the spots with the great music and bring your drinking friends. 

Staying Sober When Out With Friends

Plan what you’re going to drink throughout the night

I like to have a plan of action when it comes to what I’m going to drink throughout the night. My go-to is to have alcohol-free beers throughout the night—I like the way they taste. Some bars don’t offer these, however. If that’s the case, I will go for a Coke. If I have more than three Cokes during the night, I will change over to tonic water with lime. It helps me to know which non-alcoholic drinks I prefer. This way, I’m prepared to order them at the bar when all my other friends are ordering mixed drinks, beers, or even shots haha. Figure out which non-alcoholic drinks you prefer and stick to those. 

Leave when you need to 

This was so important for me when I first got sober. There were many times when I felt overwhelmed at a club or a bar. I just needed to either step outside and get some air, run to the bathroom and sit in the stall for a moment or quiet, or just straight up leave and either go home or go somewhere else. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t be ashamed to take a break from it all. This helped me a lot. I don’t think I would have gotten through some of these moments without taking a break from my drunk friends.


Opt for a bar over a club

Okay, I know I said that finding good music was crucial to a fun, sober night out with friends. However, if you’re just starting off on your sober journey, I would advise to head to the bar over the club. Typically, the music isn’t absolutely blaring at a bar. Plus, it’s way easier to talk to your friends when you’re at the bar instead of the club. I have found that it’s a bit harder to enjoy myself at clubs because you really need to make sure the music is something that you like. Because if it isn’t, you don’t have the option of sitting and talking with friends or meeting new people. 

Staying Sober When Out With Friends

Prepare for questions

This tip could be a hit or miss. When I first got sober, basically no one asked me why I wasn’t drinking. Mainly because I went around telling everyone that I wasn’t drinking alcohol anymore. I think I did this so that I could control the narrative and prevent people from asking me questions. If you don’t want to outright tell your friends that you aren’t drinking, they are probably going to ask you why you aren’t joining them. Prepare to answer questions. Your answer could be a full-blown explanation, or it could just be “because I don’t want to drink right now.” 

Lean on your sober community

Some folks love a 12-step program or a treatment program. Others, like myself, prefer to find my support group elsewhere. Something that I found helped me a lot in the early days was joining a Luckiest Club virtual meeting right after I went out with friends. There are meetings throughout the day, and I found that I was able to lean on this group a lot when I felt like things were overwhelming when out with friends. I highly, highly recommend joining the Luckiest Club if you need an extra support network. 

Fake it till you make it

Okay, this is not the best thing to do, but if you are desperate, I advise faking it. You can pretend like you are still drinking, but actually not have alcohol in your cup. Most people won’t know that you’re not drinking or drunk, and then you’ll avoid all the questions. I am a terrible liar, so I never did this, but I do know some friends in college who would pretend to be drunk so that they wouldn’t face the pressure of actually drinking a lot.

Staying sober when out with friends can be hard at first, but it’s so worth it! And once you keep doing it over and over again, it will feel a lot less daunting.

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