Kate's Blog

15 Things You Only Know If You Don’t Drink

Deciding to go alcohol free is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – there’s no way I’d ever give this lifestyle up. 

But I’ve got to admit, sobriety isn’t always sunshine and rainbows 🌈
When you quit drinking, you start to notice some curious things. Not just about yourself, but about other people and life in general. 
Being sober in a boozy world brings plenty of ups and downs – and some stuff is so strange you have no choice but to laugh. 
Thinking about this inspired me to put together this weeks blog…

15 Things You Only Know If You Don’t Drink…

1. Alcohol is served in very strange places
You suddenly notice just how often you’re offered a drink in unusual places; at the hairdressers, with your pedicure, in department stores, at the finish line of charity fun runs. And then there’s wine yoga, paint and sip classes, boozy baby showers…
2. Filling out health questionnaires becomes incredibly satisfying
Who knew how much pleasure there would be in writing ‘zero’ next to the question about how many units of alcohol you drink each week?! No more trying to work it out on your fingers, halving the number and hoping your doctor didn’t expect to hear a truthful answer…  
3. You miss the grown up glasses 
Why is it that people who drink alcohol (and who are therefore rather clumsy, forgetful and accident-prone) get the fancy, real-glass glasses? And yet sober people often end up clutching a tumbler, or a plastic glass and a straw. Surely, it should be the other way round…
4. There are more alcohol free options than you thought 
You have so many drinks to choose from now. It’s a pleasant surprise to discover that most decent bars and restaurants have a mocktail menu. These days, being sober does not mean making do with tap water or diet coke (unless you want to, of course)
5. You need a good sense of humour
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve order books about alcohol-free living on Amazon, only for them to arrive alongside some vouchers for a wine delivery service… 🤦‍♀️
6. Nothing good happens after midnight
The first few times you go out, sober, you’re determined to stay to the bitter end and prove to everyone that you are still FUN! But you quickly realise that all the good stuff happens before midnight, when people are tipsy-drunk but not annoying-drunk. This is when you realise your new superpower: you can show up, have fun and then drive home before things get messy.
7. Sober people are everywhere
“Everyone I know drinks.” In sobriety, you realise this isn’t actually true. We all have a habit of only seeing what we want to see, or expect to see, and it’s easy to miss the people in your life who don’t drink, or hardly drink. 
8. It’s really hard to find birthday cards that don’t feature booze
Of all the challenges I anticipated dealing with in sobriety, finding a decent birthday card wasn’t one of them…

9. Recycling becomes a joy
Gone are the days when you dragged the heavy recycling bin out onto the pavement, wondering if the neighbours would notice how full it was. Or you discretely disposed of a few empties in someone else’s bin…
10. People love telling you how little they drink
“I’ll have one or two glasses during the week, a bit more at the weekend. Some nights I won’t drink anything at all…” When other people discover that you don’t drink, they often feel compelled to launch into a detailed description of how they really are a take-it-or-leave-it drinker, honest.
11. It’s hard to wear high heels for long periods of time
Is this just me? I think alcohol numbed my feet so I didn’t notice the pain so much!
12. You have much more free time in the mornings
When you’re not trying to disguise a hangover or work out who you drunk called / texted / ranted at on Facebook, your mornings suddenly seem a lot less chaotic.
13. Your weekends last longer
When you’ve been for a run, read the paper and had a green smoothie all before 10am on a Sunday, you realise just how much time was lost to drinking and recovering afterwards.
14. You save much more than you expect
You never really know how much alcohol is costing you until you quit. If you tend to buy a few bottles with your supermarket shop, it’s easy to miss just how much booze adds to your bill. 
15. You’re braver than you thought you were
There is nothing quite like the feeling of doing the thing you thought you couldn’t do. Quitting drinking pushes you out of your comfort zone in a big way – and makes you realise just how much you’re capable of 😊
If you’d like some help to stop drinking and create an alcohol-free life you love, click here for details of my online course.

Hi, I'm Kate

I founded The Sober School to show you there’s another way out of your shame that doesn’t involve AA or rehab. 


56 Responses

  1. Oh my gosh. The recycling and the health questionnaire! Brilliant. Actually, all of this is brilliant. I’m three-plus years in and have experienced every single one of these. Thank you, Kate!

    1. Im a little over a year sober now and still can’t believe it. It is still good to hear the reasons why I quit and a reminder of the ways my life has improved.

      1. I have experienced every single one of those and they are all so true. I just so enjoy not being altered anymore. To any doubters out there- give it a try. Life is just so much better and I never thought I’d be one to say that. 1-1/2 yr sober now. Yahoo!

    2. This is fantastic Kate and has come at just the right time. I’m going round the mountain again and am on day 2. My favourites that stand out would be 7 and 10.

      1. Hi. I just came home from another booze filled family wedding where we partied till 3am. I’m doing my usual regret, depressed next day hangover. Then I decided I have to give up alcohol for real! I’m hoping this program and blog works. I’m definitely ready …

    3. You don’t actually need a drink to wind down after a stressful day. I now wind down in my inflatable hot tub which I’ve bought with just some of the money from being sober for two years. Infinitely more relaxing.

  2. No 11!
    I was saying exactly this to my friend just last week. For me, noticing how much my feet hurt at the end of a wedding / long night of dancing is the only downside of not drinking that I have found so far. (7 months)

    1. These days I tend to wear heels to events where I know I’ll be sitting down! I agree – this is the only real downside I’ve discovered as well, and I think I can live with it!

  3. I love this so much that I almost posted it to my FB page. Almost… I’m not sure the drinkers can appreciate these things while they’re still drinking but these realizations are priceless. Happily alcohol free! “Sober people are everywhere.”

    1. Yeah, I’m not sure I would have really appreciated this stuff whilst I was still drinking! Thanks Tracey – glad you liked it 🙂

  4. This list is so spot on…the shoes especially also the morning after panick of , what did I post on FB? Argh…And that is alcohol induced. The sober me just shrugs my shoulders and thinks, so what, not my concern?

    1. Quit 2009, now 10 years sober. I quit when I started dating my husband (took me awhile to realise he didn’t drink, been 20 years for him)
      I was drinking alone, a bottle of wine each night & had no $.
      We are now mortgage free with no debts or credit cards.
      I am now so free with our 8 & 4 year old. We are a happy family raising our children in a non-alcohol environment! ☕

  5. We used to have open recycling boxes here, l, now we have capacious wheelie bins. Very discreet, though my neighbour did once comment from across the garden wall about the noise and quantity of bottles, you can’t kid a kidder. Recently I worked in Hove, they have an open box system, what a boozy brunch they are in that town, lol, I was shocked, it was very revealing.

    1. It’s amazing how much you can figure out from someone’s recycling! We used to have the open boxes too – they were tiny and everyone could see exactly what you were putting out…

  6. Kate, you nailed it with this list! At 573 days alcohol free (thanks to you) I am noticing this a lot. Where some of these used to bother me, they now just seem kind of sad and desperate. This past weekend at a Relay for Life run, (fundraiser for American Cancer Society) I was looking at the silent auction items and almost every single one had a connection to alcohol. Wine tasting, wine country retreat, cases of wine, bottles of whiskey. Seemed kind of ironic since these items actually can make your cancer worse.

    1. Wow, that is rather strange to be promoting alcohol in that way, when alcohol itself is linked to so many cancers. Congratulations on your 573 days Suzy – I’m really pleased to hear you’re doing so well! ❤️

  7. I can identify with all of the above but the one that amuses me is when people insist on buying me alcohol-free beer or having it in stock at their home in case I call when all I really want is a nice cup of tea or coffee…yes really!It’s great to have the choice of alcohol free if I’m at a festival or a concert (yes, non drinkers go to festivals too).

    1. This is bang on! I’ve just passed 600 days and all of this resonates. I have a sober friend who asks for her tonic in a posh (gin) glass – I haven’t plucked up courage yet, must work on the bravery bit!

      1. Go for it! I have a couple of times recently – and it felt good to ask for what I wanted. Congratulations on your 600 days! 🙂

  8. I went to a new grocery store in town and they had a wine bar set up and people were drinking glasses of wine while they shopped for groceries. I thought this is ridiculous.

  9. I also wanted to mention, we have a great Barnes and Noble bookstore I loved going to regularly and recently the city decided to replace this lovely bookstore with…drum roll a very large liquor store.

  10. Alcohol in weird places, like the Barton Perreira trunk show Saturday afternoon at my optometrist’s office, haha. Why???

    1. I’m guessing the alcohol does bring some people in. But it’s sad that you need booze in order to attract people to an event.

  11. This is great list. I’ve notice that at sporting events there are many more beer vendors than soda vendors.
    Being sober is awesome. Being sober when everyone else around you is drinking sucks.
    Little insights like the ones on this list make not drinking more tolerable.

  12. Nearly at the end of my first month and finding loads more time in the mornings and weekends. Thank you for the motivation!

  13. Number 8!!! I had three girlfriends to buy birthday cards for last week, and there were only a handful of the racks and racks of cards that did not have to do with alcohol. I couldn’t believe how blind I was to that before!

    1. The whole card industry seems to be obsessed with this idea that alcohol = celebration, and nothing else will do. And that’s just not true!

    2. I find this so frustrating too! They also assume you’ve lost your sense of humour if you don’t drink!

  14. Oh my gosh – the high heels hurting more! So true! Also I literally received my around alcohol free living in the mail yesterday and inside was a card for a red wine devliery service, offering me a monthly membership for X amount at $10.99 per bottle. I couldn’t Believe it!!! ‍♀️✂️✂️✂️✂️

    1. It’s terrible really, but I’ve heard so many people report the exact same experience. They must assume we’d be good customers!!

  15. This is great! Thanks Kate! I’d like to mention that I recently completed Macmillan 26 mile hike in the Lake District snd what did they hand you as you crossed the finish line? Plastic glass of Prosecco!
    Also, I’d like to add that I never knew it would be so difficult to get off the Majestic mailing list!!! I’ve unsubscribed countless times and emailed their offices but still I receive marketing emails from them! Grrrrr!

    1. Both things sound very frustrating! It’s sad to hear a cancer support charity handing out prosecco at the finish line 🙁

  16. A brilliant list.
    No 10 absolutely.
    They’ll never say it, but these people probably envy your ability to be happily alcohol free.
    Being teetotal feels like a special superpower

  17. I’m almost a year sober, and I thought I was the only one who delighted in answering 0 for alcohol in health questionnaires!
    As for the weekends last longer, I used to completely waste a Sat or Sun EVERY WEEKEND recovering from drinking. Now, I love how much I accomplish and how much rest I get on the weekends. Life is so much better sober. I did your April 2018 course, and although it didn’t “click” until Aug of last year, I am so grateful, Kate, they you were the introduction to this great sober life!

    1. Congratulations on your sobriety Eileen! I’m so excited to hear you’re coming up on one year AF – that is absolutely fantastic 🙂

  18. Oh my, 12 and 13! The feeling of waking up without a hangover is pure joy, as is the feeling of leaving the house without wondering if I’m still over the limit. And I’m now planning and loving weekend activities with my kids, rather than just drinking and recovering on repeat. I’m new to my sobriety journey, and these two positives are my main reasons for knowing that this lifestyle is here to stay – along with another one to add to your list: quality of sleep. I sleep soundly and don’t wake through the night when I don’t drink, also making for better days! Thanks so much for your support, Kate!

  19. In addition to #8 – alcohol focused cards – I just went through the kitchen towels and moved the three (all gifts) that referred to alcohol to the cleaning bin.
    Day 211 for me – was in the January class – and loving it more every day!
    Thank you.

    1. It’s great to hear from you Rose – I’m really pleased you’re doing so well and feeling good! 🙂

  20. Wow Kate, every one of these is absolutely true! I’m a member of various sober forums and so forth, but your wise words so often hit the nail on the head. 19 months sober and you have summed up alcohol free living. Keep up the great work!

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