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To drink or not to drink – that’s your decision

Your stories 31 Jan 2023

There is never a good time to go sober or take a break, says Sam Wilson, founder of Sober Mates. It’s about choosing what is right for you. Here Sam explores how you can reduce or cut out alcohol – and still have a good time.

By Sam Wilson

I felt like I was failing at socialising; I didn’t get why no one else felt like this or why no one talked about it.

In early 2020, I had a hangover from hell; it was four days of alcohol-induced anxiety or ‘hangxiety’, as I call it. I knew I needed to take a break from alcohol. I vowed not to drink for three months.

I realised I had never explored my relationship with alcohol and its place in my life. Growing up in a country town, I was handed a drink at 18 and never looked back.

We don’t need alcohol to dull out these feelings. We need healthier coping methods to process these stresses."

Until now, I explored this relationship and removed alcohol for good. I said goodbye to anxiety-ridden mornings and learnt to process my feelings without booze. You don’t need to numb your feelings at the end of the week, but you do need to learn how to release those feelings from yourself.

Alcohol teaches us that we need to get rid of stress immediately and a substance to do it. This doesn’t seem right. We don’t need alcohol to dull out these feelings. We need healthier coping methods to process these stresses.

My social life held me back from giving up sooner. I thought no one would like me if I didn’t drink. I had been a big drinker for so long that drinking was a part of my identity. I had to relearn how to socialise. Here are some tips that got me through learning how to socialise without booze:

  • Remind yourself why you are socialising. This may be to connect with mates, watch a friend marry the love of their life, embrace feelings of connection or meet new people
  • Have an exit strategy. The bonus of being sober, you can always drive! Take yourself home when you need to.
  • BYO alcohol-free drinks.
  • Organise events where alcohol isn’t the focus.
  • Hold a glass in your hand.
  • Have your ‘why you’re not drinking reason’ planned. If someone asks you why, it is easier to have a planned response (also, you only have to answer what you feel comfortable with).
  • Take each event as another accomplishment. Each time it will get easier the more sober events you have under your belt.
  • Disappear when you’re done. It can be impossible to say goodbye to every tipsy person; they will want you to stay. Leave when you need to and message the host, so they know you’re home safe.
  • Practise gratitude for a night out with mates and making the right choice for you.

There is never a good time to go sober or take a break. You’ll always think there is an event you ‘have’ to drink at. It is about choosing what is right for you. Use this time to assess your relationship with alcohol. Don’t spend the month thinking you’re missing out. Spend time evaluating if alcohol is adding to your life or not. Learn to develop your mindset around drinking and how to process your feelings without numbing them.

I created an online community, Sober Mates, to discuss the issues of becoming sober as a woman, to talk about the tools for removing alcohol, something so centric to our Australian culture and to show people that you can still live a great social life without it!

I don’t want people to pick up a drink at 18 and never put it down and not question it. I want people to take the time to explore if alcohol has a place in their life.

All rea­son­able steps have been tak­en to ensure the infor­ma­tion cre­at­ed by Jean Hailes Foun­da­tion, and pub­lished on this web­site is accu­rate as at the time of its creation. 

Last updated: 
17 January 2024
Last reviewed: 
25 May 2024