Be clear about why youâ€™re abstaining
The most recent survey on adult drinking habits in Great Britain found that as of 2015, 29% of 16- to 24-year-olds do not drink alcohol â€“ an increase of 18% from 2005. With so many young people abstaining from drinking altogether, there has concurrently been a rise in the â€œsober-curiousâ€ movement, as coined by author Ruby Warrington in her 2019 book of the same name.
â€œThe first step is to get really clear about why you are abstaining,â€ Warrington says. â€œMaybe youâ€™re sick of hangovers, want to perform better at work, or have a health and fitness goal. It can help to write these reasons down somewhere you can access them easily, to remind yourself when you feel your resolve wavering.â€
Embrace sober firsts
Once youâ€™ve established your reasoning, Warrington says that you should continue to attend social functions, seeing them as â€œsober firstsâ€. â€œWeddings can be extra challenging, as these are some of our booziest get-togethers,â€ she says. â€œGo into these and any other â€˜sober firstsâ€™ with an open mind, and stay curious about what the experience will be like sober. If youâ€™re used to drinking, staying sober can even be a different kind of altered state â€“ with all the surprises, the highs and the lows.â€
Plan your alcohol substitutions
With the alcohol-free market expanding, and some estimates anticipating it to grow by a third in the next three years, there are plenty of options available to replace your usual tipple of choice at a social function. Warrington recommends a tonic with bitters as being â€œmore grown up than ordering a Cokeâ€, while a record Â£57m was spent on non-alcoholic beers in Britain over the past year.
Donâ€™t apologise for not drinking
Kate Bee, the founder of Sober School â€“ a sobriety training course for women â€“ emphasises the need to be confident about your decision. â€œReally own it and never apologise for not drinking,â€ she says. â€œInstead, smile brightly and say: â€˜Iâ€™m not drinking at the moment and I canâ€™t believe how much Iâ€™m enjoying it.â€™ Even if you have to fake that enthusiasm itâ€™s worth it. Itâ€™s much harder for people to pressure you to drink if youâ€™re happy being alcohol-free.â€
Share your experience with friends
When undergoing such a potentially life-altering change, it is important to discuss what you are doing with friends and gain their support, according to Warrington. â€œLet your friends know about your journey as that can be one of the most powerful means of encouragement,â€ she says. â€œAnd when they see youâ€™re capable of it, they might decide to try it for themselves, too.â€