The lifestyle magazine for non-drinkers, the sober-curious, and anyone examining their relationship with alcohol.

On Becoming Social (Again) After Giving Up Alcohol

This page includes affiliate links.

Magazine Archives
| Winter
2022 |
Volume 1,
Issue 1

On Becoming Social (Again) After Giving Up Alcohol

“If alcohol was the never-ending circular breath that fueled your social life, its absence is going to have an impact, whether it’s at a work happy hour, a night out with friends, or a family holiday get-together.”

Writer Jacob Barron explores the process of rediscovering who you are as a social entity after giving up alcohol.

As our kids dug holes, flew kites and ate sand, a close friend paused at a point in our conversation, sidled a little closer to me on our shared towel and lowered his voice a bit while leveling his eyes. “How are you?” he asked. Emphasis his. 

This was the first time I had seen this specific friend in-person since very publicly observing the one-year anniversary of my sobriety on Facebook and Instagram. He omitted the words, but what he was actually asking was, “How is living life now that you’re sober?” 

In this moment the question might’ve been awkward, but it wasn’t. I felt good, and I was among friends—friends who knew me well before I got clean, and, gratefully, who I love, and who I know love me back. Nothing said on that towel was going to change that fact.

We were also on a beach and I was drinking a very cold lemon La Croix. Our kids were meeting and enjoying each other’s company for the first time. The sun was hot, but the water cold. I had applied sunscreen to my children in such a way that the chances of a week-ruining burn were blessedly remote. The moment’s simple pleasures were a balm to my wobbling soul.

That he knew about my sobriety also helped prevent any awkwardness; I didn’t have to explain the bigger details to him. He was already familiar. 

But the most important factor buoying my comfort level in that moment was the fact that, sixteen months into my sobriety, I could honestly say I had reached a point where I felt comfortable with myself and with who I was as a sober social being. 

 

A Social Lubricant

There are lots of reasons—both chemical and cultural—why alcohol is inextricably linked to social behavior. Ads for alcohol (on which $2 billion are spent annually in the U.S. alone) don’t instruct consumers to drink their products at home, alone, preferably in the basement and in secret; the ads aspire to help drinkers “make it count,” where “it” might be a night out with friends, the drink itself or life as a whole. The message is always tied to how this particular beverage is a prerequisite for creating something memorable shared between you and others. It invites audiences to be a part of something, even though—let’s be honest—drinking alone and in secret is how a lot of alcohol  gets consumed. 

Evolutionarily speaking, we should probably be grateful for alcohol’s undeniable social benefits; the drunk apes beat the sober ones after all.(1) Alcohol erodes barriers to conversations and creates a shortcut to connection and collaboration. In the past, this meant, “If we work together, we can hunt and gather more than we would otherwise.” Today it might be, “Let’s go get pizza after this!” but the point is all the same—alcohol reduces the distance between an idea and collective action on that idea.

For these reasons, it’s easy to see why a lot of people might feel a bit lost when they’re first out in public after choosing sobriety. If alcohol was the never-ending circular breath that fueled your social life, its absence is going to have an impact, whether it’s at a work happy hour, a night out with friends, or a family holiday get-together. 

Every reason for not drinking is valid, but the specific details of every new non-drinker’s journey toward a new social self will vary widely according to their personality type, their friends’ and family’s level of support or opinions, and their own reasons for getting sober in the first place. The journey of an alcoholic emerging from the ashes of rock bottom to a new social standard will look different than that of someone who is laying off booze for the weekend.

Still, there are similarities in these journeys—recognizable phases on the path of the newly sober. Using my own unscientific experience, I’ve identified four of these phases: Paralysis, Imitation, Actual Normality and the Promised Land.

 

Phase 1: Paralysis

2024 Spring Cover jpg
About the author:

Share this post!

Sponsored

Read more
Beverage Reviews

5 Extra Hoppy Nonalcoholic Beers

Articles

The Art of Compassionate Accountability

Subscribe

Unlimited access to our quarterly digital magazine and all magazine archives/articles.

Options below from $2.99/mo

MONTHLY
DIGITAL ACCESS

OUR MOST FLEXIBLE 

DIGITAL ACCESS PLAN

$2.99

Monthly

Quarterly digital magazine

Access to the digital magazine and all web archives/articles. 

Subscriber perks and discounts

DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION

SAVE 15% ON FULL DIGITAL ACCESS 

(VS. MONTHLY)

$26.99

Annually

Quarterly digital magazine

Access to the digital magazine and all web archives/articles. 

Subscriber perks and discounts

PRINT + DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION

(U.S. ONLY)

BEST FOR PRINT LOVERS!

$37.99

Annually

Our beautiful, quarterly print magazine

Access to the digital magazine and all web archives/articles. 

Subscriber perks and discounts

ADVERTISEMENT

Login

Subscribe to AFTER Magazine

MONTHLY
DIGITAL ACCESS

OUR MOST FLEXIBLE 

DIGITAL ACCESS PLAN

$2.99

per month

renews monthly until canceled

Quarterly digital magazine

Access to the digital magazine and all web archives/articles. 

Subscriber perks and discounts

DIGITAL

SUBSCRIPTION

SAVE 15% ON FULL DIGITAL ACCESS

(VS. MONTHLY)

$26.99

per year

renews annually until canceled

Quarterly digital magazine

Access to the digital magazine and all web archives/articles. 

Subscriber perks and discounts

PRINT + DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION

(U.S. ONLY)

BEST FOR  PRINT LOVERS!

$37.99

per year

renews annually until canceled

Our beautiful quarterly PRINT magazine

Access to the digital magazine and all web archives/articles. 

Subscriber perks and discounts

Not registered with AFTER Magazine?  

Click to discover subscription options.

Please enter your username or email address.
You will receive a link to create a new password via email.

Not registered with AFTER Magazine?  

Click to discover subscription options.