Six top tips for socialising without alcohol

Emily Syphas | January 2024 | 7 minutes

From 'power hours' to exit strategies, Emily Syphas shares her advice for having a great time with friends, alcohol-free.

The thought of going to a bar, a pub garden, nightclub, festival or BBQ while alcohol-free might feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. To help you navigate these situations, I am going to share my top tricks so you can socialise sober with confidence, ease and excitement.

1. Call ahead

Call the bar ahead of time and make sure they have some alcohol-free drinks options. Not only does this take away the worry about what you’re going to drink, but it also takes away that voice in your head which tells you ‘just have one’. Having ‘just one’ might be a slippery slope for you, so making sure you already know what you are going to drink before you get there really helps to navigate this.

2. Set yourself a ‘power hour’

If a situation seems like it might be triggering but you really want to go, set yourself the goal of a ‘power hour’. Go for one hour, and if you aren’t having a good time after that or you’re feeling uneasy, give yourself permission to leave. In the early days of my sobriety, I found this a really helpful strategy to help tackle the more daunting social situations.

3. Be the organiser

Offer to organise the day or night’s plans. This way you could suggest a non-alcohol-related activity, or make sure that wherever you are going has a fabulous alcohol-free drinks selection. You are helping your friends by taking a task out of their hands and you can make sure that the destination is somewhere you feel comfortable.

4. Reframe your thoughts

I want you to think of alcohol-free socialising as an adventure. A chance to explore a new part of you, a chance to make deeper connections and remember conversations, a chance to figure out exactly what you like and don’t like. Thinking of going to events and not drinking as an opportunity for personal growth and development has really helped me take my worries and fears of sober socialising into a space of self-enquiry and experiment.

5. Have an exit strategy

Know how you’re going to get home – whether it’s checking the nearest bus or tube stop, bringing a local taxi number with you or pre-booking transport. Having your route home planned stops you having to rely on anyone else and can help take the pressure off thinking you have to stay all night. The last thing you want is to be waiting around for a friend who has decided they want to stay out all night. An exit strategy allows you to socialise on your own terms.

6. Don’t be afraid to leave

You don’t owe anyone an apology, you don’t need to feel guilty, and you certainly don’t need to go into details. If you’re not feeling it, for whatever reason, you can leave – without feeling bad about it.

Has this blog got you raring to go for some sober socialising? Check out some of our other tips and stories below.

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  • Emily Syphas is a Sobriety Empowerment Coach, Founder of community Sober & Social and host of the Sober Sips Podcast. You can find out more by following her Instagram heading over to her website or listening to her podcast.