Life Sans Alcohol: How I Maintain My Social Life and Sobriety

Portrait Placeholder No Profile Image By Christina Zayas
dark haired woman with black sweater and black jeans sitting on table in park

For conversation’s sake, as someone in recovery, I can still “grab a drink” with my friends. While they tend to opt for a booze-induced cocktail, I rely on a simpler drink – sans alcohol. I quit drinking over three years ago, and the day I decided to put down the sauce was the day I decided it was time to burn my old life down. But, did burning it down mean I wasn’t fun anymore, or that I couldn’t go out and would have to hide indoors like a hermit? At first, that’s what I thought. I was convinced I was no fun without alcohol, but after a while, I learned that was false. It was a little white lie I told myself because part of me was scared to engage in social situations without liquid courage. Here’s the truth: you can make plans without alcohol and have an even better time than you would on any night out drinking. PLUS, living a life without hangovers is fantastic!

In the beginning, it took a few months of pushing myself to get to that point, mostly because my work as an Influencer required me to attend events and be social (off the Internet). I was in my head a lot of the time, watching women hold their cocktails ever so elegantly. (Tip: hanging out in your head is a dangerous place for anyone in recovery. Be bold and socialize – you’ll find it isn’t so bad out there.) Then, right before my very eyes, I warmed up to mingling without the ice-breaker drink. So, the funny thing about realizing you don’t need alcohol anymore to approach people is how awe-inspiring it can be to plunge into making new friends.

I was at another work event when I decided to greet an old Instagram acquaintance. Strolling up to her in my clumsiest manner (sobriety didn’t change how awkward I really am), I asked said friend for coffee the following day. Coffee seemed like a brilliant idea because it didn’t require me to fake my desire to hang out in bars. I felt good about my CGD (coffee girl-date) and planned to make more. In fact, I felt so good that I no longer had to step foot in a bar that I came up with a few other handy dandy girl-date ideas

From museum visits at the MoMA to lunch at my favorite chicken and waffles place (Sweet Chick, in Williamsburg), I hit the jackpot on booze-free plan-making. As of today, I have met with girlfriends at cafes to help them with their social media efforts, gone to SoulCycle as a group, ran errands (mostly shopping), and invited a few gal pals to fun work events as my plus-one. What I have come to find is most of my friends are either sober curious or simply not interested in drinking. So, when I invite them out for anything that doesn’t require the consumption of alcoholic beverages, they often seem relieved and delighted. Dear friends, you’re welcome!

If you are testing the waters with a new buddy, start with coffee or tea. It’s the best “day-drinking” option yet! See below for five of my favorite cafes in New York City. P.S. These also work great for first dates with a partner. Good luck!

Top Cafes in NYC for a Sober Date

  1. Butler: 101 N. 8th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249
  2. Urban Backyard: 108 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012
  3. Maman: 80 Kent Street, New York, NY 11222
  4. REMI Flower & Coffee: 906 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10017

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