“So … how do you have fun then?”
“You must get really bored.”
“Is it because you’re religious?”
“I bet you miss drinking loads and loads.”
“Are you actually allowed to go to bars?”
Since I quit drinking, I’ve been asked all the questions above. Several times.
(I was particularly baffled by the last one – just who is it that’s going to stop me from entering a bar? The sober police…?) There are so many myths and stereotypes about what it’s like to be a non-drinker. It’s kind of crazy.
The problem is that these ideas are repeated so often, they become ingrained in our culture and accepted as facts. But you can’t let this nonsense hold you back from a hangover-free lifestyle!
Here are 8 myths about non-drinkers that are absolutely not true:
Myth 1: We really, really miss alcohol
Next month I’ll be four years alcohol-free and I never miss it. Seriously. I’m not ‘battling the demon drink’ or ‘taking it one day at a time’ or moping around feeling as if I’m missing out. I have no more desire to drink than I do to smoke cigarettes, take heroin or stick a fork in my eye.
And I know lots of other non-drinkers who feel exactly the same way. Once you cut through the social conditioning and educate yourself about alcohol, you start to see booze for what it is – a brain bending substance that delivers an artificial high, followed by a giant, soul-sucking low.
Myth 2: We all go to meetings
Not everyone attends 12 step meetings. (I don’t.) They work for some people, but for others, they’re not a good fit. You don’t have to go to meetings and you don’t have to label yourself. You can simply decide to stop drinking. Some people do it on their own, while others use books, counsellors or seek out help online.
Myth 3: We miss our old life
No way. When I look back on my drinking days, what stands out is how boring, dull and repetitive they were. One of the reasons I stopped drinking was because I had this nagging feeling I’d lived the same year twice; I’d made the same mistakes and repeated the same frustrations and struggles. I felt stuck. So I certainly don’t look back on that time and think ‘those were the days!’
Myth 4: We must’ve hit rock bottom
Some people do have a dramatic rock bottom – a wake up call they can’t ignore. But, just as many don’t. Most non-drinkers quietly decide to stop because they don’t like the way alcohol is making them feel. They suspect they’d be better off without booze, so they decide to change. That’s it.
Myth 5: We judge people who do drink
Most sober people are pretty open minded – we have no problem with other people drinking. If you can have one or two and feel great about that, then go for it. We don’t care. We’ll only judge you if you make our sobriety a big deal!
Myth 6: Our lives are really dull
It’d be pretty sad if our lives were boring, just because we’d stopped drinking. There’s this idea out there that life without alcohol is ‘less’ somehow; less fun, less intense, less everything. In fact, the opposite is true. Alcohol-free living gives you the time, energy and headspace to craft a life you genuinely love. One that’s so good, you don’t need to numb yourself at the end of every day.
Myth 7: We’re not interested in parties or going out
We still like dancing. We still like good music. We still like the company of other humans. So yes, we still have social lives! There’s nothing quite like having an amazing night out, and knowing it was all genuine, because your feelings weren’t chemically altered in any way.
Myth 8: We’ll make do with any old alcohol-free drink
We still have taste buds. We love the ritual of having a nice drink to unwind – something that feels special. Personally, I want sophisticated flavours presented in a pretty, grown up glass, preferably by a bartender who knows a thing or two about mocktails. No one should have to make do with plain old tap water, ever.
Let me know…
What’s been your experience of these myths? Whether you’ve stopped drinking – or you’re still working on it – I’m sure you’ve come up against one or two of these already. And do let me know if I’ve missed any off the list!