Alcohol Awareness Week – Socialising Whilst Sober

For Alcohol Awareness Week 2024, we’re shining a light on the journeys of individuals who have chosen to reduce or completely cut out alcohol from their lives. Navigating social settings without a drink doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Jayce Nunn, an Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Employment Specialist, shares their story about thriving socially without alcohol, a choice they made over a decade ago.

“As I write this, we are days away from my 11-year anniversary of making the decision of choosing to stop drinking.

My decision to stop drinking was not related to being in recovery or requiring support. I was never a heavy drinker, and only took part in the occasional party or night out. I decided that I didn’t enjoy the experience of drinking anymore. I also never believed that you needed to have a drink to have a good time.

I still enjoy taking part in activities where drinking is common – like watching my favourite football team, family dinners, and going on nights out. I just do these without drinking. If you’re looking to navigate social events sober, my first tip is to fully embrace the experience. Understand your motives for going to the event. For example, if you go to a concert, you’re there to see an artist that you enjoy play some of the songs that you love. Or a wedding, you’re there to support your loved ones!

Answering the question ‘why aren’t you drinking?’ has never been difficult for me, though some people did find it hard to understand my reasoning. I often felt like I was doing something wrong or felt like a little bit of an outsider when people didn’t understand. This made me learn that it was important to embrace the questions. I had to remember that it was a decision I made for me, and the biggest tip I can give to anyone, for whatever reason that they have chosen not to drink, is to remember that this is your decision, and no one else’s.

Of course, there were moments where I didn’t always want to do the things that I used to do. This allowed me a new opportunity to seek out new things that I enjoy, such as investing more time into my current passion – hockey! I now train numerous times a week and play competitively on a regular basis. Another tip I can give to anyone is establishing supportive social circles, who understand your reasoning for not drinking. It can be a great opportunity to find something new that you are passionate about, especially if new connections are found in environments where no drinking would take place.

Even when going to the football, I am fully immersed in the match, whether the outcome is good or bad. For 90 minutes, I am fully focused on the game, knowing that the next day I will wake up refreshed, and with more money in my pocket from not buying the £6 pints!

By not drinking, I can also take responsibility for keeping the people that I am with safe, whether that is by being the designated driver or the voice of reason in difficult situations that may arise. Of course, this shouldn’t be an expectation of the non-drinker of the group, however, this is something I enjoy doing personally, and keeps me engaged in the situation. This also is something that doesn’t go unnoticed.

To close off this blog, I want to emphasise the importance of respecting everyone’s choices regarding their drinking. Everyone has their own reasons for drinking and not drinking. Mutual respect goes a long way and can open opportunities for enlightening conversations.”

Reducing your drinking can have a positive impact on anyone, ranging from saving money, to improved physical and mental health. In Jayce’s experience, it has shown that you can still enjoy social situations whilst not drinking.