So you’ve decided to skip the booze – whether you’re just having a few dry days a week, taking a couple of months off or ditching it all together – if you’re anything like me you’ve probably spent a fair amount of time stressing about how to hang onto your social life minus the booze.

On my sober #journey I’ve navigated dates with drunks, boozie birthday parties, girl’s nights out, festivals, holidays, Fridays after a long week and Tuesdays after what feels like it’s already been a long week.

I’ve got to admit on quite a few occasions I’ve come unstuck. On dates where I’ve promised myself I wouldn’t drink I’ve been talked into having a few and then a few more. I’ve picked up a glass of bubbles at a party without even thinking, I’ve let waiters make me feel bad about not enjoying happy hour and I’ve given in to the urge to relax with a glass of red on the couch.

Even though I’ve stumbled off track a few times I’m determined to get back on it and keep trying to steer clear of alcohol without giving up going out.

So are are a few things I’ve found work for me – :

Be the designated driver
This is one I’ve heard a lot of friends say they use. You’ve got to be sure you’re not going to be tempted when you actually do the driving though! When a waiter or host at a party offers you a drink a simple – no thanks I’m driving – is a really easy way to skip the booze. You end the conversation about drinking before it’s even started so if you’re a little uncomfortable talking about not drinking then this is a perfect one to use.

Order tonic water
This is a pretty good one as it looks like you’re drinking so no one will question what you’re up to. You can also kind of convince yourself you’re not missing out. I tend to have these in the fridge at home too so when I get a craving I can grab something that distracts me. They are sugary shit though so drinking a lot of these on a night out will probably give you a sugar hangover the next day anyway so take it easy. In the short term though it’s worth it to push on through and using something like this to help break the habit.

Sparkling water in hand at Women in Media Event

Avoid the bar
If it’s down to you what you’re going to do then you can pick somewhere no where near a bar. I find it so much easier to stick to my guns if I’m not starting down the barrel of temptation. Heading out for coffee, going to a movie, walking the dog (not a euphemism) or heading to the beach are all awesome ways to spend your time and mean booze won’t be in your face.

Be honest and say you’re not drinking
Sometimes it’s just best to tell the truth. I’ve been on a couple of dates where the guys have just said cool, if you’re not drinking I won’t and they’ve joined me in sparkling water over dinner. I’ve also encountered the opposite though where I’ve basically been shamed for not drinking. Needless to say I didn’t see that guy again. The guy I’m dating now waited until after our second date to tell me he’d actually been sober for 12 years – he was pleasantly surprised when I told him about my attempts to do the same. When I was offered a wine at a birthday party and had the courage to say – I’m not really drinking anymore – it started a conversation about booze which ended with a couple of people saying they really wanted to try and cut back on their drinking too.

Hang out with people who get it
Ultimately I think the saying Stay close to people who feel like sunshine applies here. I reckon if you‘re ever going to have a chance of succeeding at anything you want to do in life you have to surround yourself with people who support you. Anyone who doesn’t get it, who thinks you will only be fun if you drink or makes you doubt you choices is not worth your time.