Going out without drinking – Can It be Done?

Going out without drinking – Can It be Done?

The answer to the question I often get on social media after reading the blog is: “going out without drinking can it be done?” The answer is yes so why don’t so many people choose a different option. What is it that makes us knock back so many either over lunch or out with friends and family. Why is it sometimes a badge of honor? Yet it can be done despite all the obstacles so as with everything let’s take it one step at a time.

going out without drinking

Begin with the end in Mind

This was a phrase taken from a self development coach, a guy called Stephen Covey who always said “begin with the end in mind”. Now it was slightly different for me and alcohol because I was a social drinker but not a mad one and drank with friends over lunches and some lovely wine. Never spirits and so very average and yet with a combination of genetics, infection and stress my liver began to give in and was given 48 hours to live. It was at that point that I knew I had to give up alcohol when my consultant said “another alcohol drink and you could die”.

So let’s deconstruct that for a moment I went from present to future then back to present and took on the realities and you have to have that mindset if you want to successfully go out without drinking. You have to “see and feel” yourself out with your friends or whoever and saying no to alcohol, still having a great time and avoiding the pressure. However, It goes further than that, say why it’s important to you. Here are some starters for you:

  • Health
  • Hangover
  • Stress
  • You have to drive the next morning and losing your license means losing your job
  • Looking fantastic
  • Not putting yourself in harm’s way.

I would encourage you to have a list of what I call “carrot and stick”. So things you want to “move towards”, so a better fitter body as well as things you’re “moving away” from some from so in my case death ( pretty clear cut for me but not for everyone) safety, hangover feeling and wasting away the day. I’m afraid the “I’m never drinking again”moment never really works.

Make a list of your carrot and stick, feel it, imagine it and use your senses, feelings, smell, taste, looks etc. Also what’s the payoff and the consequences. Really list them. I mean really list them and try them on for size.


Social Influence

There is no doubt anywhere about the role of social influence. We are encouraged to drink as a badge of honor, you are part of the crowd and humans like to travel in packs taking us back to our caveman days! So what are you limiting beliefs about drinking when you are out? Is it true? Probably not. It is hard though, as I joke I get as much discrimination for my liver disease as I do for not having a drink. You couldn’t make it up!

My favorite one is at a bar waiting for a train and I decided to have a totally 0,0% abv beer, so no alcohol at all. The barman replied : “what’s the point in that? “ I felt quite small but I have learned to be bullish back and said “not dying if that’s OK with you?”. Bear in mind he isn’t my mate and I’m the customer, crikey who needs friends like that!

So take a moment and ask yourself this question : “How would you already know if you’re limiting beliefs about having to not drink alcohol when going out had changed?” Notice what comes up for you and acknowledge it.

Remember limiting beliefs are always thoughts, not real, they are very often made up and not true. The one thing that is true is that you can influence yourself and ignore others if you choose and want to. Ultimately they don’t really care.


So the key strategies are of course linked to “begin with the end in mind”. However, are a couple of mental strategies you can use

  • Remember it’s your life and body
  • Your friends aren’t you
  • The thought of it is so much bigger than the realty
  • Be honest, I have learned that and it works, be direct
  • Fast forward to the morning then back again in your brain go around again, think, feel, see, hear, repeat.
  • Remember alcohol is a poison, repeat in your mind.

There are also behaviors you can do when out. Use this site to research all your alcohol free options, it’s what I had to do and it really works. From a bottle of 0.0% abv beer ( really cold )to presse in a wine glass or a mocktail. It can really take away the social pressure as most people after the first around may try it themselves.

There are of course the usual carbonated offerings but I think this is harder as you will want that drink in the hand to feel part of the club and non alcohol options give you that feeling of being great while going out without drinking.

Feeling good at the end

At the end of day think about what you will have achieved and how you have saved money to put toward a holiday or any new purchase as a result of your action. Celebrate your action with a goal unrelated to drinking as it gives you something to really go for. I know someone who gave up white wine drinking each night and it paid for two weeks in Cuba all-inclusive! Nice!

Clock up the wins of going out without drinking

So remember that going out without drinking can be done. It’s all down to you’re limiting beliefs, over cooking the social pressure and having a plan. There is now an increasing supply of alcohol free options that you can explore, for example most bars offer mocktails even if the zero alcohol beer choice is limited and its pretty much unisex now. Thank goodness!

Use the forward pacing method of living the next day and what you will see, hear, feel and do as a result of having a night out not drinking. I am not suggesting you change your friends but you could change your activities such as theatre, cinema or just anything else that does not involve a drinking culture. I know my stakes were high but trust me it is doable.

What are your experiences, please comment below and let me know in either way. I will also reply and it often sparks a discussion or another article. I love your comments.



4 thoughts on “Going out without drinking – Can It be Done?”

  1. I believe that we acna all do whatever we want to achieve so far there is the willingness to get things started with. I actually appreciate the idea that is behind this and I see it as a great one. These days, we have more alcoholics than before and the numbers kept improving so, knowing how to really turn down or resist the urge to drink is needed to help counter the number. This is a great post here

    • A really good thought there Phillip which is an excellent part of the debate and I hope others get involved. There is no doubt social pressure and the badge of honour is key. I really appreciate you taking time out to comment.  Thanks Phil

  2. Hello Phil, drinking is something that can be put aside while we go out and have fun with whoever it is we want to go out with. Even as an adult, I don’t take alcohol because there is so much I have learned about it which I am not really happy about. The idea of drinking is not bad but there are some people who can’t control themselves and in the end make a mess of themselves and stuffs. If you know your peer would force you to drink, then go out with another set of people who are not going to force you.

    • Thanks Bella, you make a great point about control and I guess the more we drink the less control we have. I really appreciate you taking time out to comment. Phil


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