I'm 23, me and all my friends are alcoholic. I just can't have fun without alcohol. Been looking for solutions to replace alcohol to have fun but I couldn't. How do you have fun without alcohol? Thanks
You need a new group of friends, firstly.
It sucks to say, but people who need to drink to have fun will always drag you along that path. It doesn't matter if it's a night on the town, or a board game night, they will always want booze around. Also, they will probably pressure you to drink, because that's what gives them permission to.
So find new people who don't drink. Do the normal things you would do, but without alcohol. It's still fun.
Meeting the people is the hard part I think. For that you probably need to find activities and events where booze won't be around. Find things you like to do sober, then find groups of people doing those things. Join game jams, or board game nights or take a martial arts class or a salsa dancing class or something.
>You need a new group of friends, firstly.
This is absolutely horrible advice. Alienating yourself from all of your friends simply because you don't want to drink the same things as them is not a good idea.
If you don't want alcohol, then just don't drink it? I have been to many, many, many music festivals, parties, etc. and not drank anything. I can't imagine just exiling myself from all of my friends instead of simply not drinking something.
(Obviously if you have a medical condition or something, or a history of addiction, then this might not apply)
edit: there are many replies to me talking about addiction and accusing me of encouraging an addict to engage with their addiction. I'm not. I said it above, but if you have a history of addiction, or if this is an addiction problem, obviously this advice does not apply, and you should distance yourself from addicts.
OP explicitly calls his friends (and himself) an alcoholic. That implies a different dynamic than simply a group of friends who goes out and has a couple of drinks.
Finding a new group of friends in that sort of situation is absolutely the correct move. Addicts do not let other addicts quit.
OP said "all my friends are alcoholic" not "all my friends are alcoholics".
I read that as: all of my friends drink alcohol, not all of my friends are addicted to alcohol.
If OP and all of his friends are alcohol addicted, then yeah: that's a medical problem and my advice doesn't apply, which I already said.
Among primary English speakers, “alcoholic” almost always refers to abusive drinking.
I can’t imagine using “alcoholic” to describe people who consume alcohol in moderation. And I am around a lot of teetotalers.
The sentence sounded weird to me too and I interpreted it as a non-native english speaker simply saying their friends drank alcohol but where not alcoholics. OP should probably clarify.
In the context of 23 year-olds, I think it's safe to say that none of them are actual alcoholics, just that they drink A LOT, as many people at that age do.
How is that safe to say? There are plenty of 23-year-old alcoholics, having lost control over their alcohol consumption, in full-blown physical and/or psychological addiction. You don't have to age into it, or take a test, or carry a card. It just happens to you.
Yes, but using the singular signals a non-native speaker, and this is reinforced by using "couldn't" rather than "haven't [been able to]" in the third sentence. I think GP is on to something.
I think you're reading too much into it there. Plenty of native speakers have far worse grammar and more questionable usage choices, especially the ones that are young and drunk.
Someone who can’t have fun without drinking is an alcoholic.
It's probably more likely that OP is throwing around the term without a true appreciation for its meaning. Me and my friends get stupid drunk when were together on the weekend and I want to do other activities is very different than me and my friends all have 10+ drinks a day (top 10% of adult consumption).
Respectfully disagree. The best thing you can do to make meaningful personal change is to change your environment. This is pretty universal advice for people dealing with (either in themselves or others) abuse, addiction, etc.
If people are drinking, it’s often in places catered to drinking as well, leaving not many other options. Being sober in those places is, frankly, boring.
> Being sober in those places is, frankly, boring.
As someone who doesn't drink this is 1000% true. I don't want to hang with the drinkers because it is boring as hell.
I think it hugely depends on whether a particular group of people are your support framework, or your enablers.
I don't read the advice as "remove all your support framework, friends, and family and go at it alone". I read it as "find supportive people who can enable your goal".
For me, it's absolutely trivial to not drink or not smoke in groups of friends. But that's because I'm NOT a drinker and I'm not a smoker.
For anybody I know who IS a drinker or a smoker, casual or hard-core, the social aspect is absolutely pervasive and can be brutal in trying to quit. If one is not a drinker or smoker they may have a hard time fully empathizing / understanding how hard it can be to be around others who not only partake, but see it as critical focal part of activities.
exactly this. i had no problem hanging out with friends, many of which liked to drink beer while i wasn't. i was never pressured, and nobody got drunk and we all had fun. but if they had tried to pressure me, i probably would have left.
keeping a habit is a lot easier than changing one. change needs encouragement and if that encouragement doesn't come from friends you already have, new friends are needed. that doesn't mean to give up old friends, but it means to get an additional circle of friends.
new friends can be found by joining a new activity or picking a new hobby, or to go visit new locations...
The OP stated they are an alcoholic. You don’t tell an addict, “hey, just stop doing drugs!” You have to change the environment.
Sounds like English is his second language.
> I just can't have fun without alcohol.
Sounds like an alcoholic to me.
Yeah, you'd usually say "my friends are alcoholics".
Also, there aren't really that many actual alcoholics at 23. Actual alcoholism tends to take years to develop.
No they didn't?
"I'm 23, me and all my friends are alcoholic"
“Me and all my friends are alcoholic” is a bit ambiguous.
Add the "I just can't have fun without alcohol" and it is not ambiguous.
Change the topic to drugs instead of alcohol: "Me and all my friends are cocaine addicts. I just can't have fun without cocaine." If you've recognized that your cocaine use is detrimental to your life, does that sound like an environment you should remain in?
The % of the population that does not drink and isn’t religious is pretty tiny.
But we are pretty awesome! :->>
More seriously though - It's 2022. For better or for worse, if that is desired, it is trivially easy to find fellow members of any given subculture and preference group. Friendly non-alcoholic atheists are far from fringe in this day and age (geography depending of course, but the short post does not specify).
Finally, I don't think I've read the "non-religious" portion in the original ask - so not sure where that part even comes in. People who don't need to drink to have fun, or people who can have fun without drinking, are pretty common.
OP didn't say "my friends drink and it bothers me." They said "my friends are alcoholics and can't have fun without drinking." He's not looking for friends who don't ever drink. Just ones that understand moderation.
I'm also not sure why religion comes into it. If you're a non-believer and you don't want to socialize with believers I feel like you've missed the whole point of atheism/agnosticism.
No, it's correct advice. I don't know how old you are, bu there's nothing hugely unconditional about keeping friends. Moving on from friends is a standard part of adulthood, and what OP describes sounds like such an occasion.
Agreed! If these a important lifelong buddies then you salvage the friendship by doing things together that don't involve/require drinking and hope that they don't declare you an outcast.
But if this is just some scattered collection of folks whose lives revolve around getting drunk together, then IMO it's no big loss to move on. There's plenty of awesome people out there to discover.
Also, talk to your friends. I'm sure a number of them would actually want to do something sober, it's just that things just easily fall into that mode.
If you like watersports, suggest doing soemthing like that. Or go to the gun range. Or go to an origami course together.
If no one suggests anything then to the bar it is. But there's a lot of options, but it requires active thinking/planning/doing from both parties.
No it's not. That's one of the first things they teach you for addiction treatment - get rid of the old things that trigger you...
Nobody said alienating anyone. "You need a new group of friends" doesn't mean OP can't still be friends with the people he already knows. But if they want to do things that their current friend group just isn't interested in (Having fun without alcohol), then he needs to find new people to do that with.
I mean... First, you don't have to alienate yourself from your old friends in order to meet new people. Second, you don't have to make "left the group" reach the level of alienating.
People comes and goes, booze night can be fun at times. But if it stopped been fun, then your decision of leaving should be honored. Otherwise, the relationship is unhealthy and needs adjustment.
Don't alienate yourself. Just diversify your friend investments. That's often a good idea anyway. You don't want one life event of one societal change to make your entire social support system come crumbling down.
> You need a new group of friends, firstly.
This is really good advice. You'll never be able to give up a bad habit or an addiction so long as the people around you are caught up in the same thing.
For years I was unable to quit smoking, in part because the folks I hung out with and the people I dated were all smokers. I moved to a different city, started hanging out with non smokers and was able to quit in a few months.
I would even say; move away if you can. Far enough away so you don't see everyone too often or the places where you had 'fun'. Moving away for school or work also helps 'breaking up' with all friends at once for a good reason in case you don't want to tell the real reason.
Not true at all. I quit years ago and for a long time continued to hang out, go clubbing, party without any alcohol or drugs with the same group of friends.
There are several cultures (eg. some immigrants) where drinking isn't big. But that would come with its own difficulties of finding something fun to do together.
How often do you go do things where drinking isn't the focus? Do you think someone is lame or unsocial if they don't want to go to a bar?
If you think it is uncool to not go to events where alcohol is a huge part of it, then of course you're not going to meet any nondrinkers you think are cool.
I can't speak for everyone of course, but I'd say that generally when you are sober it's not that fun to be around crowds of drunk people.
6 years sober here. Most of the advice so far wouldn't have been much help when I first stopped drinking.
It's honestly hard, and the first year or two won't be great. Boardgames and cafes are boring as fuck compared to getting drunk. Sure, rafting and cycling and other examples might fill up a Sunday afternoon, but they don't work for Friday night.
Over time you adjust. I've made a few friends that don't drink. I have others that I can go out with and they don't mind me not drinking.
At some point you realize that you won't be having as much fun as getting drunk. But your life will be better in other aspects, and that will make it worth it.
This is sober and mature advice. There is simply no easy answer to the question: how do I break a bad habit and keep the benefits? Vices have benefits.
The OP took the first step already: admitting that getting drunk is a bad habit.
Breaking a bad habit is like choosing to learn to walk all over again: lots of bumps on the head, and a not a few failures, but eventually you learn to walk again.
I play FPS games, and I perform worse when I'm drinking, and I get sleepy. So for me it works better to stay sober. Actually I prefer to stay sober even while watching a show, because I don't like the dizzy feeling, unless if drinking socially.
You are borrowing joy. It sure is hard not to do it though.
> At some point you realize that you won't be having as much fun as getting drunk.
Did you move away or you stayed in the same place? I notice that changing things radically helps a lot; I moved 1000s of kms which allows to reboot. If I would've stayed, well, all people from my previous life live there still and the same bars and other 'fun' is there still. When I go back for a visit, even a week, it is party time then first night and all nights after that until groggy and nauseated on the plane home. I don't enjoy that anymore as I like my work and my hobbies and most of them need a clear and responsive mind, not a cotton ball and depression. My current group of friends mostly drink socially but don't mind to have people to do fun stuff with that do not. So for me a Friday of not drinking at all(which are most Friday nights of the year), I cook pizza in my woodoven, cook food, make snacks and have a movie or game night etc. My mates get slightly legless but we all have a lot of fun and I am mostly busy with preparing things so time flies with something I enjoy.
I was an alcoholic and have completely quit drinking around 7 years ago. I’m in my mid 30’s now.
Changing my peer group was the most important thing. Hanging out with people who drink at places where drinking is the main activity is not a good way to stop drinking.
Travelling was a great way for me to find other likeminded people. I moved to SEA where I found lots of people who weren’t drinking.
Once you have friends who aren’t alcoholics, you can start doing non-drinking things for fun. Hiking, riding motorcycles, jamming on instruments, talking about philosophy, fishing, writing code… Anything that you would consider fun.
Partying is also possible without booze, but the event has to be one that’s less drinking oriented. Typically, venues are making most of their revenue from alcohol sales, so it’s not easy to find the right one. But there are still some underground electronic music events, raves or even Sunday morning ecstatic dances, etc.
If you want to use substances, I found that mushrooms at the dose of around 0.5-1g are a safe option for some social fun time. But be sure to do your research and experiment in a safe setting first.
1) STOP DRINKING IT
2) Get new friends (seriously). If you continue to associate with the same friends, you'll have the same problem and point of view.
3) Let yourself go through the withdrawal of the "fun"
4) Get on with life, figure out what you consider without including alcohol.
This isn’t necessarily true. In college, I only drank very occasionally before I was 21. All of my friends drank. We still had a lot of fun. You don’t just sit around in a circle drinking.
I’m currently doing a dry January and I still go out with my friends. There’s plenty of tasty non-alcoholic beverages.
That may be true for your circumstance, but I wrote that with the OP's circumstance in mind.
It depends how hammered the group is getting. If everyone is pacing so they are only slightly buzzed, it can still be fun for a sober person. If people are drinking to be drunk, as they tend to do in early 20s, then the sober person will not have so much fun after a couple hours once everyone else is inebriated.
As someone who doesn't drink, I've never minded when friends have a drink over dinner or bring a bottle to game night. But if folks keep pouring all night, there eventually comes a point where I leave early because staying there sober just isn't any fun. Some people often stop after a couple, and some people seldom do.
also the amount of fun is close to zero sum in life. that’s why kids can play with cardboard boxes and adults can’t figure out how to have any fun. reducing alcohol for a while will reduce fun, but then your threshold/sensitivity for what is enjoyable will increase, and the endorphins will return.
Possible step 5: integrate old friends one by one into your new circle, saving them from alcoholism
Sorry, but no. Cutting ties is more important. If you look at any 12 step program, leaving the old life behind is vital. They need to find their own way.
EDIT: I should have said "most recovery programs" rather than specifying 12 step. Please ignore the 12 step part and realize that I'm advising staying away from the people who are part of the OP's problem.
12 step programs are a lie, they just isolate people, make them annihilate themselves all for the purpose of then assuming a higher power has to save them from themselves, after which they either fail or become converted to the religion that hosts the current incarnation of the program.
There is a minority of modified programs that don't do that, but the classic one is not that.
That said, if it 'works' for someone that's great, but if it is just replacing one thing with another, it's just a sidestep and not an improvement (except for bystanders who only 'see' things as a third party and because it 'looks' better they think it therefore must be better).
In addition, removing the source of the problem (i.e. friends that cause you to drink) can help, but not as a universal solution. If people have such a degree of control over your actions, it's going to be more than just the friends that drink that can cause the problem.
There are however, a whole lot of other options that are not religious conversion that have good (and measurable) results. As soon as someone recognises they have a problem they need help solving and actually want to solve it, that's when you can actually get somewhere.
Any 12 step program will likely also emphasize support from friends and family.
Cutting ties doesn't have to be all or nothing, and it doesn't have to be everyone in that group. If you and a friend are both serious about quitting alcohol, they might be your best ally in quitting.
This is true. You're probably not the only one who wants to quit drinking. I wouldn't view it as "saving" them, but otherwise yeah. If you lead people might follow.
In most groups I've seen, there's really only one person who is the heavy drinker, and they bring everyone else along.
I think you're skipping over his actual question:
"How do you have fun without alcohol?"
Not really. The answer is "be around people who are having fun without alcohol"
Being sober and being around drunks is never really all that fun, imo.
I'm a lifelong teetotaler.
Back in college, I would go to house parties and bars and do everything that everyone else was doing; the only difference is that I would have a Coke in my hand instead of a Rum & Coke.
That was (mostly) fine for me, because I never felt the temptation to drink, and the fun I derived was from the social enjoyment, not from what I was drinking.
But I've had friends who struggled with alcohol addiction, and for them, it was much more beneficial to change their scenery and get away from the parties and bars and clubs where drinking was a big part of the experience. Sometimes you also need to distance yourself from friends where your friendship really only works because you both like drinking together.
Stuff that seemed to work:
* Some people found that they could replace the fun from alcohol with adrenaline rushes, so they did things like power sports, skydiving, roller coasters, etc. But of course, those tend to be expensive ways of having fun.
* Others cultivated hobbies and then looked for social experiences that aligned with those hobbies. One guy loved pinball so he joined a pinball club in his city. Another joined an adult sports league.
* One guy I know, who also struggled with drug addiction, decided go in a different direction. He felt like he didn't want to replace one addiction with another, so instead he was determined to rewire his brain so he wasn't constantly chasing the next high. He did meditation, mindfulness, self-help exercises, therapy, etc.
> Back in college, I would go to house parties and bars and do everything that everyone else was doing; the only difference is that I would have a Coke in my hand instead of a Rum & Coke.
I have found that I get fewer questions about my drink if I have the bartender put a lime in the Coke.
You're 23, it's not super uncommon for binge-drinking to be the center of your social world (at least in the US). I would not drop your friend group immediately, as others have suggested. Stop drinking to get trashed, and start drinking things that you enjoy the taste of. You might find that there is nothing you really like the taste of, in which case, you'll stop drinking. Personally, I enjoy a few beers in moderation. Also, cannabis.
By trying to quickly "replace" alcohol with something that delivers an equally satisfying feeling, you might be setting yourself up for failure, especially if you are really an alcoholic.
A more realistic first step would be to stop hanging out with your alcoholic friends, or at least trying to set very clear boundaries with them so that you avoid situations where you're encouraged or pressured to drink. This might not be possible, in which case you'll have to make some tough decisions about who you allow to stay in your life.
Either way, consider expanding your social circle to include people who don't drink. That group might include people who are sober or trying to achieve sobriety.
Once you're in the right environments and around the right people, it will be easier to find alcohol-free activities that you enjoy.
Find activities you enjoy that require you to be sober and/or up early. If you find a gym routine that's satisfying and requires being awake at 6AM, that puts a limit on how much you can drink. You can build a social group from those activities. Be mindful of habit clustering, some times people balance healthy habits with unhealthy ones, and drink more _because_ they're highly active.
Day is easier than night. Coffee shops are often open at night and not focused on drinking.
I find it easier to stop at zero drinks than at one. And I find it easier to defer a drink than to turn one down (even to myself). "I'll have this seltzer first, and if I still want a drink afterwards, I can have it then".
Your situation might be mostly social, but if you want something that's nice to drink and 0ABV: seltzer + bitters
In San Francisco and the Bay Area there's been a recent trend towards dessert cafes. These are a great alternative to bars for social meetups with people.
Any social activity where you get to do stuff with people us good. I like the following:
- Hikes, or outdoor exploration generally
- Renting kayaks (also a really Covid safe social activity)
You’re ahead of the game being 23 and asking this already. I wasted too many years drinking heavily at bars and clubs being part of the cool kids. God the things I could’ve been accomplishing and the different social circles I could’ve been a part of instead.
It’s hard, everyone who has found a way out can try to explain but ultimately it’s a personal choice which involves lots of foresight and discipline… and/or hitting rock bottom.
Best of luck. It may help to itemize all the short/mid/long term negative effects and try to internalize them so you “feel” the loss each time you decide to drink.
This requires some soul-searching. The real question is: What is it about alcohol that lets you have fun? How do you define "fun"? Often people use fun as a euphemism for behaving poorly, using alcohol as the crutch: "I was drunk! Of course I didn't know what I was doing!"
Is this your excuse too? If not, then why do you drink? What is the rationale?
I only ask because I've walked the same path and came to some startling conclusions about myself. Since then, I stopped drinking with friends and will only drink with people I trust.
When I stopped drinking 9 years ago, I discovered that those drinking buddies aren't actually friends. In fact, what I discovered was that almost everyone I knew wasn't actually my friend. What a relationships revolve around getting loaded, they're really fun, at least for a little while, but those really aren't friends. It's a hard decision to make. So much of our society revolves around alcohol and the acceptance of alcohol. Good luck!
> What a relationships revolve around getting loaded, they're really fun, at least for a little while, but those really aren't friends.
I have friends that have groups like this. They joined frats in college and still hang out with their frat bros regularly, drinking almost every weekend. I join on occasion, but I'm not on their "call list" or whatever when they start making plans for parties. I don't mind.
But what I do notice is that when they really need help, want to do something sober, or experience something new, I'm always on the list. I feel like I'm a friend to them when a friend is what they need. But their party friends are a totally different group.
I’m 37 and stopped drink at 18 after I realised I didn’t really like it nor a lot of the people I hung around with. Other than a small drink at a wedding I’ve not had a drink in almost twenty years. Just isn’t for me.
To answer your question though I do all the normal stuff everyone else does just without the alcohol. I still went to the pub with new friends and colleagues. I just didn’t drink alcohol. Sure it was a bit odd at first, more so for others than me I think. But it soon became normal and I had just as much fun as I did before but without feeling crap the next morning.
You mention your friends are alcoholics. If that is true I would probably suggest finding new friends as it sounds like they’re just a big of an issue on your desensitisation of fun as alcohol is.
The thing is: what else is fun for you? Gaming? Hiking? If you hang out with the same friends you’re going to do the same things. So it means finding new friends (not abandoning your old ones, but joining an additional circle of friends). Fortunately this is a lot easier at 23 than at, say, 33.
I don’t like to drink because it becomes boring. I do it for social reasons but I find I don’t enjoy myself with people who do it a lot.
If you are actually alcoholic, go get professional help. It’s a serious disease. If you use the term colloquially as a synonym for “drink too often” then just take a break from going out with that circle of friends to break the habit.
As a former alcoholic:
1. You need new friends. Sadly.
2. Having fun without alcohol is very very different. There's not much of that mad frantic whirl of everything, things are much more clear... it feels a lot like social media withdrawal.
3. My biggest challenge after quitting alcohol was finding new, healthier ways of emotional regulation. It's a lot of work, but worth it.
Would you be willing to share some of your learnings on social regulation?
Give yourself permission to play. Get yourself in a goofy mindset (within socially acceptable reason - you don’t want to annoy your friends (too much)).
If anyone asks why you aren’t drinking just tell them you are just having fun (“goofing”). Internalize a story about yourself that let’s you play without needing alcohol.
I really enjoyed improv because that’s sort of how they led. People are stiff and need an excuse to be playful. Most use alcohol as permission but you don’t need to.
If your friends keep peer pressuring you to drink, consider changing what environment you guys are in as perhaps it’s the same old environment leading to the same old desires.
Hope this helps internet friend!
My guide to having a sober life.
1) Focus on good conversations and not drinks (you can get high from a good talk)
2) Excercise! A lot!
3) Focus on the music and dancing and not the bar
4) If people pressure you to drink, day you will do later ( they will forget anyways) or say you the driver
5) Have a sober partner
6) celebrate each Sunday not hungover with sports, sex or what you enjoy
7) If you are drinking to go away from problems consult a therapist
8) Try microdosing if you need extra serotonin but no hangover (warning not a medical advice, experience needed and emotional health)
9) Listen to heart what brings you long-term joy
10) Focus on nutrition often people drink when they are hungry or you get upset because you are hungry after 7 h while everyone has beer
> Focus on good conversations and not drinks
Where do you find this. Bars provide me with a building full of people who are likely more sociable and open to talking with randos at the time, though the conversations tend to be dumbed down a bit. The disinhibition is powerful.
The only other places I have “good conversations” these days are in niche online spaces, with people I won’t find irl.
OP is college-age, and most colleges have a variety of seminars, which are a great place to start. The people who attend these seminars usually are interested in talking about the same topics informally afterwards.
If you're not in college, any course with content to study where you see the same people multiple times in-person is a good place to meet people interested in talking. If you're not sure what interests you, check out the continuing education catalog of your local community college. If you don't have much practice striking up conversations with sober strangers, it may take a few sessions before spontaneous conversations start up, but by the midway point of every wilderness or language course I've taken people were very chatty.
You can look for quality instead of quantity in my opinion with new people.
I don’t drink, I never did. In my twenties I would go out with friends that drunk a lot and had fun all the same. The thing is that I am not shy and I would engage in their drunk shenanigans on their level (while keeping an eye if things weren’t getting out of control, like fights and such). Shouting singing, silly jokes, emotional outbursts, spontaneous decisions to go somewhere, I would always follow their lead empathically. I would put myself in their mood and not make myself as the only “sane and rational” one in the room with superiority.
Sure, I was not always in the mood for that, and I would do something else alone or with other people, and I was ok with that. But I when I went out with them for a drink, I knew I would have to be in that mood.
I have the impression that in the US it takes some effort to say you are not judging people who drink when you say you do not drink. That you are not putting yourself as not part of their tribe. The peer pressure seems to be higher. For me this came naturally, as we were friends from other environments not only bars. We would all hang out sober as well.
If you never ever hang out sober, that might the signal of a problem. A drinking problem for them or a relationship problem for all. If you can’t have a good time at all at moments without alcohol, maybe the friendship is not a good fit for any involved and alcohol is just masking this.
I don't agree with the people saying find new friends.
I drink, but alcohol makes me feel terrible so I don't drink nearly as much or as often as many of my friends. But I still hang out with them and we still have a good time. It's not that big of a deal.
Alcohol is a quick dopamine hit and a signal that fun is about to happen. But, really, what are you doing /during/ the fun? Talking with friends. Playing games. Doing recreational activities. Eating a good meal. Taking your mind off the troubles of the day. That's the core. That's the fun.
The dopamine of the core fun is going to take a little more time to hit, that's all. You have to be patient when you do those core fun activities for that to happen. And it will.
You have to retrain yourself. Nothing more, nothing less.
To help yourself along you can pick a new trigger; a signal to yourself to get into fun mode. Pop a tic-tac. Repeat a mantra three times in your head 'work hard, play hard'. Whatever. But do it consistently and don't do anything you wouldn't do while drinking (like ruminating over work or actually getting back to work). You'll break the spell!
This is all assuming you're not an alcoholic and actually physically dependent on alcohol. (Cravings, self destructive behavior, compulsion to drink, agitation when not drinking etc) If that's the case you'll need some sort of treatment and quickly. And you will probably have to remove yourself from situations where you might relapse. I've seen alcoholism absolutely destroy people and it's not something to tackle by yourself.
I was an alcoholic for the better part of 10 years. I'm 36. I ended up in hospital last year from having considerably too much "fun" with alcohol for that long, I assure you it was no fun at all. I've been sober for 6 months now, and I don't intend to go back to drinking.
The most important thing for me in finding "fun" again and filling that void, was to come to terms with why I drank, and that was to be a "different person", for me anyways.
Except I am that person, I just found it difficult to live, and alcohol helped ease that, made me feel confident, etc. Now that I don't drink I see it for what it is. I can indeed be that person without booze, I just need to learn more about... I guess who I am, and how to "channel" that person, the first step in that was stopping drinking, you literally cannot do that self discover otherwise. On the other fronts, after I stopped I continued to go out and hang out with drunk people (not popular advice, however it was important to me to prove to myself I had that control) - discovered 2 things: drunk people are pretty annoying, it's kinda in a way more fun watching everyone else when they're drunk. I don't really talk about it when I go out, I just go out, order diet cokes, and no one really notices or cares. However, going out in that setting is pretty infrequent now, once a month at best. The rest of the time I've spent working on me, reading a lot, learning new things, it's easy to burn 3 hours on the DW docs youtube. I also work on my relationships with others now, and I find more time to volunteer and do things for my community, it's a lot of fun! I feel an urge to drink near every single day, sometimes multiple times a day, if I walk by a wine store the feeling I get is hard to describe, spending time thinking about what the reward you're going to get, and then applying that to something else, helped me immensely find new fun things to do.
Do I miss going out and getting drunk with my friends who regularly go out and get drunk: sometimes.
Has it been difficult finding new friends, especially later in life: yes.
Do I have fun and enjoy life more without alcohol: absolutely.
You should choose one or two active recreational activities and do them routinely. For example, soccer, rock climbing, golf, martial activities, running, biking, gym, whatever. You are more likely to meet friends through those activities who also enjoy doing the same non-alcohol activities as you.
Dating and sex also don't have to involve alcohol and are fun activities as well.
Better to get on these things now while you're 23, rather than 33 or 43.
I feel targeted. Although I do not think it any harder today than it was 10 years ago for me. Making tough decisions seems easier in my later years.
I don't like the taste of alcohol so I've never drunk. I really enjoy going to clubs and bars, though the culture here is different and people get buzzed but not shitfaced. I like talking to people, watching drunk people antics, listening to the music, etc.
These probably aren't things that will work for you, but they work for me, since you asked :P
As someone that had problems up until around your age and has been on the wagon for a while, there was something in my life that made me choose between alcohol and something better. There are two paths your life can take going forward: the one with alcohol, and the one without. 'Fun' aside, the one without is much better. The first 6 mos - 1 yr are the hardest in all respects, but once you get through that it's a little more second nature. Find something to do instead. For me it was work - exercise might be better - you can tell people you're not drinking because you're in training. Non-alcoholic beers helped me, others say that's not a good idea YMMV - Heineken 0.0. Good luck to you!
I think it's wild that so many comments here are saying just get new friends. Coming out of college for the next couple of years, my friends and I drank all the time too. Now at 33, with all the same friends, many of us don't drink at all and the ones that do, do so in moderation.
Now we game together (both video and board), hike together, camp together, ski together, have heart to hearts together, etc.
Just take the activities you do now and start removing alcohol. What you are going through now is exactly what I did at your age. I just removed alcohol and others will likely reduce over time too.
I used to host happy hours to meet new friends and just wouldn't drink at them. You can do all the same things you do now without alcohol.
Do fun things that don't require alcohol?
Go cycling, rafting, build stuff, etc. One way I've participated in many large parties and events is by "working" them. So if I'm running around with heavy equipment or driving things or doing something I can't do while drinking, then I won't drink.
I think people end up drinking because the activities they're doing are kindof boring. Sitting in a bar is pretty boring, board games are extremely boring.
But then on the other hand: drinking alcohol is a lot of fun. So I think it's probably a lot healthier to just have a healthy relationship with it, as opposed to abstaining completely (unless there is a medical reason or something).
Came here to say this, spend time outside or find a hobby!
> I think people end up drinking because the activities they're doing are kindof boring. Sitting in a bar is pretty boring, board games are extremely boring.
I think your underlying point of, "If you're doing things you don't like or enjoy, alcohol might make them seem more fun" is spot on. I think board games are fun with or without alcohol. The key is to find things that you enjoy doing.
When I decided to stop drinking, the first 8 months were the hardest part.
My brain was hard-wired with the expectation that 'fun' equated to being in situations where alcohol was acceptable. Only there where laughter and social ease was abound due to alcohol, was where the fun was. It turns out the opposite is in fact the case. The thin facade of fun at gatherings, places, situations that are dominated by alcohol were really sad substitutes for life.
The realisation that what I was doing was running from life, not partaking in it, is how I discovered the world beyond the veil of hangovers and manufactured interactions.
Frankly no piece of advice here will help you. Each to their own, as life is varied and rich for each, alone, as they see it.
What will help you, is making the choice that the person you were when drinking is not the person you will be today.
If you have fucked up badly while drunk; that memory, if you have it, is the most powerful reminder you can carry. Don't be that guy again.
Then it will begin to fall into place; you will become that man that lives life.
Its not fun. Don't expect to start having fun any time soon either.
You literally have to fight your own brain and wiring. You're going to have to treat yourself like a naughty kid who needs to be reprimanded often, to stay away from the pit.
You will lose a lot of friends, but friends aren't made at bars.
Fun is who you are, not what you do.
Life is going to happen with or without you, so make sure you are present when it does.
Eventually you replace the thing you revere now, with a reverence for life, and that is where the greatest fun lies.
I`m 41 now and sober for almost 5 years. When I started drinking at around fourteen we were always a bunch of people going to partys, festivals, disco and such things it was fun at the beginning. We continued drinking, and I think I never had a whole month without alcohol or getting drunk after I was 20, until around my 35th birthday. Then I just stoped everything, smoking cigarettes, drinking, all the "fun" stuff.
Because I realized we didn't go to partys anymore or were visiting festivals, we were just sitting around at the weekend drinking beer, playing videogames and watching some HeavyMetal bands from the 80s/90s(when we were young) on youtube and complain about how life sucks when you get older and how we would do things different when we only could go back in time.
I realized that I was doing this my whole life, I was always complaining that I couldn't "go back" to change things instead of just trying to live a better life in the present. So, like I said I stoped drinking, started to teach myself programming and math to maybe one day find a job that I like and just live a "normal" life. I'm still unemployed and often times I doubt that I can find a good job, because I wasted 25 years, and it's getting harder every year. But still, quitting alcohol was the best decission of my life. So yes, at the beginning drinking is fun, but in my opinion it's not worth the price that you have to pay for it.
Lots of good advice here.
I'd recommend going to AA meetings. AA has a vibrant network of people dedicated to not drinking meeting everyday all around the world. If you don't like the first meeting try a different one, they vary widely.
Find other indulgent drinks to enjoy, ginger beer is a fun one that is widely available.
Tell friends you "don't drink" once, if they need to be told more than once they aren't your friend.
Much of the physiological drive to drink is literally based on thirst, so keep yourself super hydrated at all times. Being hydrated also dilutes your stress hormone (cortisol).
Exercise more, if you stop chronic drinking provided you're otherwise healthy you should start to feel much more energetic in a few weeks. Use that energy to improve your body and mind with rigorous exercise. This will help you look better, feel better about yourself and gives you a reason not to drink. A hard workout gives a feeling really similar to drinking but entirely healthy and natural. The more you look like a serious fit athlete the more people will easily accept it when you pass on drinks.
Crossfit gyms are a great place to make friends with healthier people.
Social fun during the day is fairly easy, do sports or crossfit. Social fun at night? That's trickier since most people are spent at the end of the day. Go restaurant exploring later at night, like 8:30 or 9 instead of 6, maybe camping, or have backyard bonfires. I can relate to your question, because before my friends discovered alcohol, they'd be game for an 10pm inline hockey match, but after it was alcohol or nothing -- of course they've all moved away at this point, or are busy with kids to hang out much, but that's how it goes.
Go on a hike!
Bring a friend, talk, enjoy the views, bring headphones/speaker to listen to music/podcast/audiobook. The US is full of awesome trails and parks. The great thing about a hike is you can go for as long as you want or you can set a goal of reaching certain distances or destinations. Being outside is a great way to take a breath, get some fresh air & sunshine, and even meet other people on the trail (if they're willing to talk - I find people are super friendly on trails 90% of the time). After enough small hikes you'll probably want to take longer hikes, spend the night on the trail, and see grand views. This is motivation to plan a fun trip somewhere - most everyone wants to take a cool trip in nature!
Any outdoor activity really is great. Sports or even more leisurely activities such as kite flying, carving, gardening, all present great options.
If stuck indoors, invite people over and cook for them. Tell them you'll provide the food if they provide the company. Cooking is great because it involves creativity, planning, activity, and a tangible final result that can be eaten.
Reading is lovely - become okay with being by yourself, or start a book club where you either meet to discuss or read aloud to one another/listen to an audiobook. Do a puzzle, coloring pages, or something else with your hands while listening to an audiobook.
Totally anecdotal, YMMV - but in my late 20s I drank an awful lot. (Probably) Not problem drinking, but we'd go out 3 or 4 times a week and I'd get pretty drunk on most of them. I also enjoyed (and still do!) a casual drink - particularly back then just sitting in a pub with a book while I had a few pints.
From time to time I went through phases where I challenged myself to just cut booze completely for a month. Often I liked how I felt at the end of the month, so it would roll for a few more weeks, until (usually something like) I was having dinner with someone and thought "I'll have a glass of wine".
Assuming you have no actual addiction to alcohol, it felt to me like I couldn't have fun for about 2 weeks, especially if everyone else was drinking. Then I realised that I could have fun and I was just self conscious. And then I'd either let myself go a bit and enjoy the evening, or realise that really drunk people are borderline intolerable and go home. Either way worked and no one cares in the morning.
Basically what I'm saying is you don't need to 'replace' anything, you just need to power through with not drinking for a few weeks - if you're used to doing something - going out and drinking, then going out without drinking will feel weird so you have to learn to enjoy it differently.
As an aside, "I'm on antibiotics so I can't drink but still wanted to come out" is an easy get out clause in the first few weeks if your friends are hassling you to 'get on it'.
This is from ex-smoker. I think some people drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes to do something with their hands. For me quitting smoking was really hard but one technique I did was to replace it with coffee. So whenever my coworkers would go downstairs to smoke, I would get a fresh cup of coffee and join them. It felt natural and I was able to hangout with my friends.
I have been to parties where someone brought a bottle of some health drink like kombucha. A lot of bars also make fancy virgin drinks. You can also get non-alcoholic beers.
As for non-alcoholic fun:
1. You can join or start a running club. After running we used to hangout in a pub. A few people drank, most just ate food.
2. Join rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, stand up paddle, or other such groups. In my experience though, drinking is big in such groups but they don't pressure anyone.
3. Food/restaurants instead of bars. Drinkers can still drink and non-drinkers can enjoy food.
4. Dog parks. There are some fun dog parks with restaurants, coffeeshops, and bars. Everytime I take my dog there, I meet new people.
5. Coffee shops. For more low key fun especially if you are bored at home. I had a few coffee shops that were my homebase. There were other regulars, and it was easy to start conversation with them.
Now that I have kids, we just hang out in parks or town center/shopping center areas. They usually have an area where kids can run around. A lot of parents grab a drink or coffee while they hangout with adults. I see a lot of young people hanging out there too.
Don't look for things through the lenses of "alcohol free" - that will just make them all seem boring.
Look for activities that alcohol would get in the way of, and find something you like. Could be video games, sports / exercise, sex, reading, driving around, or other hobbies. To some extent, its harder work to find something that requires as little effort to be fun as just drinking, but there are lots of things you can't enjoy when drinking / drunk, so focus on those.
Find new friends. Move. Change schools. Do whatever you need to or nothing will change. You’re a small tribe that has defined yourselves through a drinking lifestyle. You’re reinforcing each other’s behavior and that will continue indefinitely unless you break away from the tribe.
Trust me I’ve been there in Cape Town (was in a grunge band) and London (hard working hard partying tech crowd). I had ambitions to sit in a room and code and couldn’t do that because I was surrounded by party animals all the time and could not get away from them. I eventually met a girl who was intensely cerebral, smart and hard working, and she inspired and enables me to focus on being a geek. We left London together, moved to the States and built several startups together. We run a 40 person cybersecurity company these days that’s quite well known. I’m ceo and she’s COO and CFO and still smarter and harder working than me. We’re also married and still very much in love.
I’m still in touch with many of my old buddies and some of them also made something of their lives. One who I chatted to this morning runs a big software business and is also a very famous musician. Others went off the rails, ended up in rehab and in some cases found religion which seems to have helped.
What I’ve discovered is that life is very short, if you are smart and capable and apply yourself it can provide amazing experiences far beyond what alcohol or drugs can provide, and if you blink you’ll miss out on those opportunities. There are many other people out there living lives with their eyes wide open who you’ll have incredible experiences with if you break your current cycle.
Find new friends.
Alcohol is liquid courage for people to behave in ways they wish they could if they weren't socially anxious and neurotic. It doesn't cure social anxiety at all, and the "courage" is only ephemeral.
Having fun without alcohol requires you to challenge your social anxiety and express the opinions and thoughts you're holding back. It's this suppression that's causing you to not have fun. Just express it, don't suppress it.
It's harder when you're in your early 20's. The breakthrough of 21 and the exuberance of the freedom of being allowed to buy alcohol and go to bars tends to overshadow everything else in the life of our lives when we're that age in America and a lot of us fall into a bit of a social trap to keep on drinking out of fear of being ostracized.
First to know, you won't be alone. There are groups to reach out to, if you want... but you don't have to. A lot can be done online. Virtual chats sometimes make people more comfortable, should you want to go that route - if you think you're an actual alcoholic and not an "alcoholic" (if that distinction makes sense).
Second, as has been suggested, you need to get a new hang out crowd. You're hanging out with a bunch of people who center around drinking. I've done it, and I drank - and I didn't even like drinking that much; was never that good at it. The hangovers were BRUTAL. I just drink diet cokes now, when I hang out with people who are drinking. I'm not an alcoholic, I just don't like drinking =/ It's poison to a lot of people for a lot of reasons.
As for meeting people, I'd suggest (and this might be a HORRIBLE idea - I'm older, so translate it into 23) get on a dating app and put in your profile that you don't drink and would like someone who doesn't want to drink. Then, when you have one other person, the two of you can find another person or two who don't drunk, and so on and so forth. Chip away at the problem and build up a friend group, one or two people at a time, just like you would solve a coding problem.
In reading my answer, I may know why I only have a few very good, very nerdy friends =)
I spent my mid to late 20's drinking quite a lot. I had coworkers that I drank with all the time to excess. It got to a point where alcohol was an absolute requirement for almost all social situations.
I distinctly remember a situation where we were out drinking at a bar and an acquaintance of one of the drinkers joined us. They refrained from drinking and socialized with us sober. After they left, I remember remarking to my friends how "people who don't drink make me nervous".
Almost instantly I realized how bizarre that statement was and how much it said about the point I had reached with drinking. It's always stuck with me.
After a number of incidents and wakeup calls, I reduced my drinking considerably over time.
I still drink, but I drink a lot less. And one way I've defined success in controlling that drinking is that it is no longer an "absolute requirement". I'm happy to be around people who aren't drinking, and happy to not be drinking myself. There's empowerment to going to a social event, making the decision not to drink and being perfectly content with that decision!
I've also learned to be happy feeling healthy. I never felt good when I was drinking. My body wasn't happy with me. I love now being able to go home after a social engagement and wake up the following day feeling refreshed because I didn't have 5+ pints the night before.
The point I hope to make with this, is that in your current state it seems like there is no fun without alcohol. But nothing could be further from the truth. You are trapped in a mental model driven by your alcohol habits and if you give it a chance, you will notice that you can be happy and fulfilled without drinking.
In my opinion, at this point in your life, you don't need to write off alcohol entirely until you've spent time away from it. Unless you're pathologically alcoholic, alcohol in itself isn't a bad thing.
Try occasionally taking time off from it. Have a week where you don't drink at all, then allow yourself to drink moderately, and repeat. Perhaps you can go even longer than a week. That way life without alcohol stays familiar.
In terms of fun without it, if you think you can't have fun without alcohol, that may mean you just don't know what's fun for you yet. Try participating in different activities, including things you think you won't like, and maybe you'll stumble across something you'll enjoy.
I think one's relationship with alcohol is much healthier when there's an alternative source of pleasure.
Oh yeah, and as others here have stated, find a different friend group to branch off to. It's not that you need to completely abandon your current friends, but our social groups really determine a lot in how we feel and behave because we all have a need to blend in and be a part of one. Maybe you can have you "alcohol friends", and then your friends for other things. If there can be some overlap there then great, but if your goal is to have fun without alcohol then you need to be around others on the same page as you.
Lots of people enjoy sports (watching and playing), video games, hiking, puzzles, board games, and movies without alcohol or at least alcoholism. It's possible to find others to do those things with over the internet, but don't let yourself think there's nobody to do them with IRL, as hard as that can be right now.
After reading through other comments, it seems that they are all divided between either leaving your friends or staying with them (which, arguably, is a binary choice when stated like that).
Disclaimer: Me and my friends are non-alcoholic. We only drank once or twice and have all swore off on alcohol. It's too costly, absolutely foul tasting, and didn't even bring us high.
The first question to ask though, is if your friends also want to have fun without alcohol or not. It is very difficult to leave habits. 10x more if you do it alone. Strangers / new friends can help but having your current friends there with you would be the best.
But if they don't want to quit / control alcohol, then it would be better to leave them or at least limit your interaction with them.
You will need someone / something that can remind you and bring you back whenever you start to drift towards alcohol. So definitely get some new friends too.
As for what fun activity you can do, do whatever you usually do. If you can't think of something that can take up time without alcohol, then just go walks or something. Maybe dance. Or play video games.
This is a silly question, because it’s obvious to you and everyone that it’s easy to list infinite things that might be fun.
The question is really how to exist in that environment in a healthy way.
Most straightforward path is make new friends and take on responsibility that precludes tons of drinking.
If you yourself have become dependent on alcohol (ie if your body is physically uncomfortable unless you have a buzz) then you should nip that in the bud. As you get older and grow up you’ll see more of your peers make lifestyle decisions they find helpful.
A wholesome activity loved by many are board games. People will drink there, but getting drunk isn’t the point in the way it is when you’re partying or going to bars.
#1 advice assuming you’re not already wealthy is to get rich. The time component of compounding market gains is so powerful it is really critical to understand and exploit from when you’re young.
Typically drinking a lot will make it a lot harder to put the thought and work in to do more than coast.
If you can get obsessed with reaching financial independence, it’s the most rewarding “hobby” to master, and it will inject itself as an enjoyable priority into many aspects of your life.
Being young (like you) I drank, but never a lot, for fun, during parties. Kids came, drinking now means pain, poor sleep, disappointed family. I don't like it anymore.
How do I have fun (with friends) now? Activities! Mountain biking, Hiking, Watching a movie (yeah we have some beers), DnD, roller skating, go for a weekend into the mountains, 4x4 driving... Etc.
When I was 23 I also had 2 groups of friends, drinkers indeed, but also the sporty types, we did many things, snowboarding, swimming, walking on the beach during the night. Always something challenging. That was a nice group, I wish for my kids (and you!) to find similar groups.
Maybe find new friends, these ones will drag you down, hold you back. Find a team sport? Easier said than done, I never did it consciously, my sporty group of friends formed spontaneously because we were the only guys doing gymnastics (ironically not a team sport), we stuck together though and now, after 30 years (and I quite gymnastics some 10 years ago) they are still close friends who do sporty things together. But we also like a beer or 2.
You're 23 and a lot of 23 year olds like to drink. It was that way when I was 23 and it will probably be like that as long as alcohol is something people drink. It's fine in moderation a couple of times a week. Most people aren't sitting around in a dark room drinking quietly, they're somewhere chatting, playing a game or just enjoying a night out someplace with other young people. You can do still do that, just reduce or eliminate the alcohol and don't make a big deal out of it.
As you get a little bit older you'll see alcohol consumption in your social circles will naturally wind down to something more reasonable as people start to accumulate more responsibility and hangovers seem to do a bit more damage than they used to.
But honestly, unless alcohol is severely affecting your life, I wouldn't worry about it. I hardly drink now in my 30s but in my 20s I'll admit I had to call into a work a handful of times over the years because I had over-imbibed on a weeknight.
I wouldn't consider myself a full blown alchoholic, but have my issues with it. I never get really drunk, but enjoy daily drinks.
I honestly don't know what to tell you. Life is quite boring in general (work, home, prepare house work, cook, sleep, and if you are lucky you have a few hours for a hobby), and alcohol made the time go much faster. Meals are also more 'boring' without a nice glass of wine or beer to go with it.
The few times I was ok without drinking at all (as I am now), I basically focus on sports. That is probably the only thing I still find interesting and do fully sober. All my free time as I can, I use it to train, sometimes 3 hours, sometimes 6 hours a day.
TV, reading, woodworking even trying to code for fun always lead me to want to have a beer or wine with it, sports and competition doesn't.
No clue if it will help you, but try it and see.
There are so many variables that it's hard to have a precise answer to that question but it might be anywhere from very simple to very complex: if you just drink because your friends drink and they don't want to stop: they are no longer your friends. Stop drinking, get new friends. (while this is the simplest answer, it's not a simple task at all) If you can't stop drinking even without your friends, it might not just be the friends that are preventing you from having fun without alcohol.
Make a few choices or answers available for yourself first;
- Do *I* want to drink
- Am I actually having fun while drinking
- Are there other things I could be doing
If you don't want to drink but do it anyway (for whatever reason i.e. <comfort, group participation, no alternatives around>), then you still don't actually want to drink.
If you are just idling by when drinking doing or joining whatever is happening around you (autopilot essentially) then you might feel uninhibited, comfortable or part of a group, but is that really the same as fun?
If there are other things you could be doing but you're constantly drawn to drinking with your friends, you could still be doing those other things; the attraction to what you already know doesn't have to eliminate everything else.
Even if you can't get any definitive answers for yourself, just thinking about it (like you probably did when asking this question) can be enough to start finding help. And help doesn't have some universal definition or steps to take. It doesn't have to be big or a complete plan either, just a starting point, an ignition to do something about a situation you don't like is all it takes to help yourself.
For a less vague comment, information on your social context would be needed like what governmental or non-profit options are available where you live, or if you have the means, private options as well.
If you live in a country with universal healthcare you're probably going to have a very easy to try starting point: your General Practitioner or Family Doctor. If needed, write down your issue, and desired to do something about it and make an appointment. They won't be able to magically cure you or something like that but they will know who you can go to for help. Sometimes even the nursing or assisting staff and maybe even the reception will have general information available as well if you feel like asking a doctor is too big of a step.
Do hard, painful things first.
- workout at the gym
- cold shower
- stuff that you are avoiding
Then the fun will pop up in unexpected places.
Alcohol give use the pleasure of accomplishment without doing work, look if you need a big goal to give you direction in life.
Do you have a career plan, house, wife, kids ?
At your age it’s time to get started.
I'm 34, I used alcohol for "fun" from 19 to 29. Ended up quitting because of mental health issues. I went through a rough year after quitting, lost most of the friends I had, and started over. Now, all of my friends do other things for fun: hiking, kite surfing, traveling, dancing, biking, kayaking, paragliding... to be honest, a night out drinking sounds boring as hell to me.
My advice: quit drinking, deal with the boredom for awhile, find new friends, and do it sooner rather than later, there's a lot of fun out in the world that you're missing out on by just drinking all the time.
Also, I now suffer from permanent health issues due to my past drinking. I only drank socially, and I quit at 29! Don't believe the myth that alcohol isn't harmful. That's a recipe for having less fun in the future.
There are two broad approaches imho; stop drinking completely OR reduce your consumption.
I'd recommend looking at ways to have social events where people can still drink but the focus of the event is something else. The long-term goal here is that eventually you can do this events where alcohol is optional and not required for a good time.
In this case I recommend board games. It something that worked for me without realizing it. I play games such as Settlers of Catan, Azul, D&D/AD&D, etc.
I think what I am suggesting is: find activities where alcohol is unnecessary or secondary - but not the purpose of the event.
One last point: I live in NYC and have been going more to Alamo Drafthouse to see more movies. They serve beer etc. so I have an option but I'm never inclined to have more than one.
If neither you or your friends can have fun without alcohol, you probably need a new set of friends as well as a therapist to talk through that issue.
If you're instead asking what other illicit substance you can substitute alcohol for while your friends are all drinking, that's different.
My favorite for that is MDMA. It's an empathogen so it helps you open up in conversations and form deeper connections with people. It's also an amphetamine so you'll be able to stay awake and keep up with your friends as they do the drunk thing.
MDMA should be a substitute for drinking. Not a supplement to it. It also comes with it's own set of risks and constraints that you should get intimately familiar with if you want to do it with any regularity.
While MDMA is nice and can be used as alcohol substitute (Alexander Shulgin called it his no calorie martini) I don't feel like it is safe for regular consumption.
I do it maybe a couple days a year for special occasions or if I really want to go hard at a club/event, but I would be very worried about it's neurotoxic profile if I did it regularly.
Probably an unpopular opinion but cocaine is a lot safer for regular use, atleast when it comes to neurotoxicity. Addiction profile is definitely higher than MDMA though anecdotally speaking such a problem has not been an issue with me or any of my friends (really the only drugs I've seen people really seriously struggle with is opiates).
I quit drinking once for three years. Usually, your friends will ask you in the beginning to just have one drink or to just drink moderately. After about a year of no drinking, most of your closest friends and family will stop asking you entirely; even better is they'll answer other people that maybe don't know you as well aka "he doesn't drink".
After that, for fun, I basically would go to all the same places, bars, parties etc with the same friends and I'd just drink water; they'd be drinking booze. That's what I did for three years.
After about three years, I traveled abroad and I wanted to take in the full experience so I started drinking again.
Absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to stop drinking for a bit; it's a fun experiment.
I have found AA and the community as a whole welcoming. I’ve spent the last 18 years of my life try to “control” my drinking. Not drinking on work nights, staying sober for months at a time but I always found myself down that slippery slope. The pandemic and work from home made it 1000% times worse. I didn’t have to shower or commute. I’d roll out of bed login, do standup and start drinking. It never affected my work. I’ve always gotten rave reviews. AA has changed my life in regards to family, physical well being and work. YMMV but if you’re interested the AA site has pdf versions and audio versions of the big book. The big book was an interesting read for sure.
Lot of great comments here, but one I haven't see yet is AA. It may not be right for everyone, but it has helped many people. My other suggestions would be to tell someone you love what you are dealing with and try and find a therapist. Good luck.
Sober 8 years through it. A big big help.
So great to hear. Stay strong.
Addiction is a medical problem. Consider getting help from a medical professional. In the US, Alcohol Use Disorder is part of the DSM-5.
You didn't always have access to alcohol. Ask yourself, how did you have fun before you started drinking? What of those things still sounds fun to you? Are your current set of friends the type of people that will do those things with you without alcohol?
EDIT: In the US, recovery and rehab centers are virtually unregulated. Many are known for being terrible and being scams. I have none to recommend. See a reputable doctor on how to recover. Consider getting a second and third opinion if they recommend a recovery/rehab center.
When I was 23 I couldn't have fun without alcohol as well and I still think that it was the time of my life. It was endless stream of fun for sure without much responsibility, consequences and future planning.
So, have fun while you can.
I come from the land of Wisconsin where we have more bars than grocery stores in 90%+ of our counties, by far the highest proportion in the country. I can sympathize.
My advice is honestly to just keep drinking with your friends but keep yourself to a couple drinks max. You can still go out with your friends and play darts, but you won’t be useless the next day. Nobody will care. Get a sprite after you’ve hit your limit. Don’t abandon your friends over alcohol unless you really have a problem and are day drinking.
If you try this and can’t do it, then you need to reach for nuclear options like moving away from your friends. But don’t reach for that first.
I suppose it depends what you mean by alcoholic, or perhaps to what extent. And what aspect of that you consider to be fun.
Is it that your social life primarily revolves around partying, going to bars and clubs, etc, and you haven't really socialised with friends in a different way because that's just how you get together?
Or is it that it's impossible to feel entertained unless you're drunk?
I think the answers for either of those scenarios will be quite different, but the one thing in common is to understand what specific needs need the alcohol is satisfying (in addition to the 'fun'), so that you can explore alternatives.
Once you can come to the point of not caring what others think of you when you're having fun you realise you don't need the alcohol/drugs. For instance, go dance on the dancefloor with the knowledge that most others are too busy worrying about how they look and are envious that you're enjoying the moment.
You don't need to completely remove alcohol, a good first step is to have 2 glasses/bottles over a binge session so you can feel more "socially integrated".
I realise this is easier said than done but it's an attainable mindset.
I made a list of things to do if someone is bored. To see it, you go to my site where I write things I am interested in (in profile, very tech-simple, nothing for sale), click "fun & relaxation" (near end of the first list), then "if someone is bored" (2nd from last). (It seems that a direct link gets my comment shadow-banned.)
To which I would now add, card, yard or other games (many, see wikipedia, but we like skipbo, five crowns, fictionary, maybe games with rook cards, croquet, etc).
I drank to drunkenness most nights throughout my 20s and early 30s, and then quit entirely. I wasn't really drinking to have fun. Mostly, I was drinking because it sort of made the tedium of hanging around with "friends" in bars a little more tolerable. But also, I was pretty angry and resentful, and harming myself by getting falling-down drunk relieved those feelings a little. If you have to drink to have fun, then what you're doing can't be that fun to begin with.
I would also chime in on the suggestion to find a new group of friends. I stopped my casual drinking when I became a father. I could not stand the thought that my kid sees me wasted. With that a lot of socially awkward issues started. Mainly with team events or at company parties. When all people around you start to slur and get funny. I have no real fun at these parties anymore. That’s one reason I kept them short and leave when I see that the majority of people get wasted.
There are lots of activities that require you to be sober. Try flying, it super hard and you need to be in top mental condition. Learn acrobatics and you need to be in top physical condition too. Literally choose things where choosing alcohol is also choosing failure at that thing. Soon, you will have new skills and new friends that don't drink. Good luck and keeps asking around, there are lots of people that have learned the knowledge you are seeking.
I think you’re asking the wrong questions. What you’re dealing with is social anxiety - that’s what you want to deal with not source of fun.
You might have to replace your friends.
I do social dance, this is an effective "replacement" for alcohol but certainly once you get good typically some subset of places that offer a venue to social dancing dohave alochol and it's considered impolite to not meet soft minimum requirements but the consumption dynamic there is not quite the same.
Maybe you need a bucket list of things you want to do and one's which you could repeat?
I find Glycine is quite good at making me laugh my face off, I just swapped sugar for glycine. It helps break down Cortisol, a stress hormone, very quickly which is why I laugh so much, more so in stressful situations so you might come across as a bit of a nutter!
Been looking for solutions to replace alcohol to have fun but I couldn't.
Without knowing what you've tried and why it didn't work no one can really give you any effective advice. They might just be suggesting approaches you've tried and not succeeded with.
Talk to a pro (your doctor, a therapist, an addiction counsellor, etc).
A huge reason why some people can't have fun without alcohol is because they suffer from anxiety problems that disappear temporarily with alcohol. If you feel far less nervous to try new things or talk to new people when you're drinking, you may want to discuss your anxiety with a doctor.
Straight answer to question asked:
This may sound a non-sequitur, but the straightest answer is, the same way I have fun without Cocaine, or Diamonds, or Cigarettes, or Thongs, or Graphene or a Learjet or... any number of random things and chemicals. I don't mean that flippantly, I just mean it succinctly and bluntly: I live my life and do things. Alcohol is simply not a precursor or requirement for me to do any of the things I enjoy - Video Games, Board Games, Card Games, Car Rallying/Racing, Photography, Guitar, Synthesizers, reading, chatting with friends, dinners, watching TV/Movies, walking through the city, flying, astronomy, traveling, eating, and doing any number of pointless and nerdy things with various computing devices around :D
FWIW I'm also an "introvert with social skills" in the sense that contact with groups of people, even friends, eventually drains me of energy; and I'm particularly uncomfortable in new situations with large number of strangers; but alcohol has never been the stereotypical solution there either - it makes me tighten up and grasp for control rather than loosen. Therefore, I occasionally drink WHEN I'm relaxed, not TO relax.
Deeper answer to what I think is your underlying ask:
Honestly - list or find things you enjoy doing; and find people who enjoy doing them but don't see alcohol as some mandatory precursor to enjoying them. It sounds like you may be surrounded by people for whom alcohol is means, method AND goal, so they may not be able to support you in finding fun and enjoyment in activities without alcohol. COVID makes it harder to find in-person groups, but historically things as cheesy as Meetup or a local shop that supports activities - be it a sports shop that has rock climbing nights or a comic shop that has magic the gathering nights or WHATEVER - and try to do some interesting sounding things that don't involve alcohol. It's both devilishly hard if you have an addiction, and extremely easy if / once you don't.
You don't necessarily need to break ties and never see your group of friends again; but it sounds like you would benefit from a supportive group that can have fun without alcohol and show you how to have fun without alcohol, better than us on the interwebs can convince you :). Depending on how deep your enjoyment of alcohol is though, you may need additional formal or informal help - it's great you have a goal, don't underestimate the challenges that may lie in front of you, Good luck! <3
All are alcoholic?
Either that's extremely bad or they just really like to have a drink and you're not a fan of drinking.
From the UK that sounds like normal hanging out with people who have been able to drink for 2 years, it's still novel and they will probably do it a lot for the next few years.
Find a sport to play? For me it's soccer, cant play it with a hangover and my first games showed me how unfit I was so I spent more time getting fit, less time drinking which made me a better player and I got to make new friends with people I was playing with
Don't make any drastic changes - Reduce the amount you drink by keeping track of it with an app or something (I use drinkless) and maybe try drinks like bitter shandy or lager shandy so you still have the same volume to drink and can participate. Go from there.
At 23? Just go do dumb stuff. Not like dumb dangerous, dumb inane. Go hang out at Walmart at 3am or go to a diner and play the game where you flip the little creamers? Just make fun out of simple things.
I didn't really drink at your age and that's what I did for fun.
Games (video games, board games, ttrpgs, etc), books, climbing, etc!
Just because I can be responsible doesn't mean I had to lose the ability to enjoy things like a child would. Just.. a little more mature.
Buy a sword and a bunch of watermelon and have a real life fruit ninja cookout!
Be silly and embrace it!
The best nights I remember from my 20s were late night hacking sessions.
No alcohol (or friends) required.
Try structured events and hobbies. Stuff like autocross, paintball, beekeeper association etc with other people. Or solitary things that depend on you, like gardening, growing mushrooms, or beekeeping.
If you want to try an alternative, you can give Kava a shot - it'll make you feel relaxed but mentally clear. The downside of Kava is that it tastes terrible and you have to pee all the time.
Find an workout program you love. I focused on executing 150 stronglifts.com workouts before end of year. I learned my energy levels, mood and overall well being are more important to be
Sometimes “having fun” can be too much fun. People with mood disorders, f.e. bipolar sometimes miss the manic state after treatment stabilizes their mood. Be careful with expectations of fun.
Happiness is better then fun.
r/stopdrinking helped me quit. Every time I had the urge to drink, I'd read through posts or write my own.
I still hung out with my friends who drank, but I would always order/make coffee and they all respected that and never gave me any flak. Generally, it's suggested that you find a new group of friends. If your friends can't deal with you drinking non-alcohol, then find a new group.
Four years later, I'm still dry and still want to drink every day. It's easier, but the temptation is ever-present.
Best of luck
viginti_tres, your experience is ubiquitous. I am the exact same age and have noticed a similar pattern for everyone my age. I am sure a lot of people are well intentioned but these simple solutions of finding new friends is just not that simple. Alcohol is extremely prevalent in the US. People are self medicating and using it as a form of escapism.
One thing I have anecdotally noticed is there are some parts of the US that are much more oriented towards drinking than others, such as NYC.
Back in the day, I had the same issues.
I ended up into outdoor solo sports [Mountain Biking, Snowboarding, and Skateboarding].
Side note: As a result, I got better friends that were into outdoor activities.
Mountains. Be outside, wherever you are.
If you're a sensation-chaser, spend time on rivers or on skis.
Give a few new hobbies a try; it is okay to be a complete beginner at stuff. Learning is fun.
> it is okay to be a complete beginner at stuff
Understanding this before 30 is a super power.
There's something to be said about something as simple as a walk in the woods.
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately..."
- Henry David Thoreau
Weed helps, makes anything boring fun, but im not sure you are in need of an actual replacement, more likely you need a new group of friends.
Board games are great, getting psyched about a good book, physical exercise hobbies too, anything that changes your environment and wakes you up.
There’s only one answer and that’s get new friends tbh. Find people whose identity revolves around something more meaningful than partying.
Drink tea instead. In the Gulf countries, there are many cafes that serve Chai/Karak tea and people socialize while drinking it.
So what’s the reason why you wanna quit having fun without alcohol? As long as you can get along with your life it should be ok.
- Learn badminton or volleyball or any group sport.
- Play regularly with the group
- Have a lot of sport/get tired/have tournaments internally within your group
What do you do when you drink that's fun?
The only time when I felt like I can't really have fun without alcohol was when I was depressed. Are you?
Talk. Play (board) games. Watch a movie.
Books. Books. Books. Books. Books.
A little bit of computer gaming. Some travel. Some more books.
Make friends with Muslims or Mormons?
As you age that group of friends will tend to age out of that except for the actual alcoholics.
Board games / cards.
I miss the days when couples would pay board cards / cards at someone home.
I’m a 33 year old man and for me I can’t relax without marijuana. Same thing sorta
I don’t drink and all my friends don’t drink
you admit surrounding yourself with alcoholics
undo that by pressing CMD+Z
I read computer science papers and hobby program stuff that never works out.
I got into salsa dancing after I quit drinking.
Lots of things: sports, hiking, gaming, sex.
Sports maybe? I can recommend bouldering :)
I don't. Alcohol is a poison and any adult still drinking it past college years is a fool that's going to end up in an early grave.
...You don't have fun without alcohol...?
Slowly wean yourself off of alcohol.
Seek counseling. Not from a web forum.
Also, stop trying to diagnose your friends. Friends don't diagnose friends.
We play video games.
In a social setting outside your house this isn't possible.
When I hear people ask about fun without alcohol it isn't that just drinking is fun for them but makes whatever they engage in during/after fun or more fun.
There're video game bars.. Frequently they're alcohol-free too to allow underage visitors.
Basically an arcade? I remember GameWorks was super fun in the 90's but they don't exist anymore
More like a room with tables/tvs/playstations/xboxes. Arcade in my mind is specifically old-school big-ass gaming booths.
As others have said, you need friends who don't drink.
From there, you go have fun. Shortly you begin to wonder why people think drinking is tied to fun at all.
You need to develop a personality and lifestyle that includes interests in something else. Art, sports, music, theater, gaming, martial arts, auto racing, millions of different "outdoors" activities, stamp collecting, volunteering, sewing, trivia, building furniture, rock climbing, travel, dancing, bird watching, gardening, cooking, philosophy, history, economics.
It's a very big world out there. Get out there, look for what draws your interest, then do that thing with other people that like to do that thing. That will probably lead to new friends, unless your drinking friends have the same non-drinking interests that you develop.
I also highly recommend some therapy. Find out why you were drinking instead of doing all those other fun things.
Oh, and if you continue to drink, drink better alcohol. It costs more money and it's harder to find, and it tastes better, so you savor it and don't look to get drunk. A lot of the time now I just drink water if I can't find a drink I like. Not gonna waste my money on shitty booze that's bad for me anyway.
There's plenty of other drugs, you know.
I'm almost 40 and never drank in my life. I have fun talking with people, eating food, playing games, making and enjoying artwork, watching and playing sports, etc. etc. You know, life.
Find new friends then, that's not true friendship.
I mostly do gaming, solo or with my friends, spend my time with girlfriend doing all sort of stuff, or spend time with friends or family.
Also have 3 cats and I have a lot of fun playing with them.
If you have friends that drink they are not real friends?
Honestly I never rarely see my friends without drinking: I'm just not particularly interested in socializing unless I'm buzzed. But it works out great, I drink one night a week and hang out with people and then am not distracted the rest of the week and can work.
I mean, if it's the only way you can have fun with them, why even bother with them?