How to Go Out Without Alcohol

In the United States, going out with friends on a Friday or Saturday night is practically ingrained into our culture. You go out, drink until you can’t walk straight, then stumble back home and collapse on your bed, only to wake up the next morning with a splitting headache. For many, this lifestyle is the norm—and even encouraged.

But for those who strive to live alcohol-free, the “going out” culture can actually be a significant challenge. In fact, if you choose not to drink, can’t drink or don’t want to drink, you might even avoid going out on the town altogether, simply so you don’t have to have run-ins with alcohol. And of course, so you can avoid the conversation with, “Wow! You really don’t drink? Are you sure? Maybe you could have just a sip!” Fortunately, this type of atmosphere doesn’t always have to be the case. There are ways you can—at least partially—embrace the going out culture and still avoid drinking alcohol. Here’s how to go out without alcohol.

The first thing to keep in mind when going out without alcohol is to always have a drink with you. There’s nothing worse than standing empty-handed in a bar while everyone else around you is knocking back drinks. And when you’re left empty-handed, you can feel more susceptible to the constant questions about your drinking or even pressure to drink alcohol. But, by keeping a drink on you, you can feel more included in the group and less judged for not drinking. If you go out to a bar, try requesting a bottle of non-alcoholic beer, or a tasty mocktail. Most bars and restaurants can be very accommodating for those who don’t drink alcohol, so don’t be afraid to make your request known. If you really feel uncomfortable asking, consider bringing your own bottle of something alcohol-free you can carry and drink with you.

Next, be sure you have a good group of friends with you to support and encourage you. It’s easy to feel like the lone wolf when you’re sober and everyone else has been drinking, so make sure you have a group there that can help you feel included. Not to mention: friends can make sober times feel like drunk ones. Oftentimes when we’re with our good friends, the laughter, jokes and pranks can start rolling without a single sip of alcohol. Embrace this reality by taking your friends with you when you go out.

Speaking of going out with friends, consider other ways you can experience the “feeling” of drinking, without having to worry about actually consuming alcohol. This is referred to as the “placebo effect.” Just because you’re not drinking, doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun! Get out there, go dance, go mingle and go embrace the party, all while staying sober. PartyWith says on Medium: “Don’t wait for the music to play louder to get your dance on. If you’re at a bar, initiate jokes and get your drunk friends to share silly stories. Take advantage of the fact that you are fully aware of what’s going on to lead conversations into perfect nonsense.” Act as a sponge to the high-energy, fun environment you’re in, and enjoy yourself.

Finally, just be yourself. Have your story ready for when people notice or ask you why you’re not drinking, and don’t be afraid to embrace who you are and the decisions you make. Have confidence and share your thoughts or opinions. Who knows? You might encounter someone else who wants to give up drinking, but isn’t sure how to start. Oftentimes, we build up the party scene into more than what it actually is. After a few drinks, most people won’t even notice whether you’re drinking alcohol or not. Stand firm in your alcohol-free lifestyle and have fun, with or without drinking.

The “going out” scene is definitely an important part of culture in the United States. And for those who live alcohol-free, it can often feel like an exclusive and challenging thing to get into. But, it doesn’t have to be. Try out these tips next time you want to have fun on the town, and see how you can go out without alcohol.