New Orleans Isn’t Just About Alcohol

We all know the emphasis that New Orleans has on food, drink and music. As a therapist, I cannot tell you how many people I have had in my office through the years who have said, not drink in New Orleans? That isn’t possible. Yes, yes, it is possible. Contrary to popular belief, you can live in New Orleans and be sober and you can still have a really good time and a really good life.

I am not an alcoholic or a person who is in recovery. I am just a person who stopped feeling good about the way alcohol made me feel. I stopped feeling good about two days after I drank when I was dehydrated and missing my run or my favorite workout class. This article is not to shame moms who do choose to drink. It is simply to shed light on the fact that our city and life can be enjoyed without drinking. I stopped drinking about 5 years ago and I never looked back. I happen to be married to someone who is in recovery. I assume that this made it easier, as alcohol is just not a part of the culture in our home.

The messages

In New Orleans, there are a couple of messages that many of us have heard. There is the “Mommy needs a drink” message and there is the “everyone drinks in New Orleans” message. I am here to tell you that both of these messages are BS. They are messages that have been normalized but they are lies.

The Positives

I like being able to model for my kids that I don’t have to drink to cope with or enjoy life. I go to brunches, Mardi Gras, I have crawfish boils, and do all of the fun New Orleans things. I enjoy being fully present. I feel great during and after a social event. I also enjoy doing things that are more active in New Orleans like swimming, running, hitting the sauna or going to my favorite coffee shop in Nola.

I will be honest and say that it is hard for me to even come up with cons. The main con is that sometimes you don’t get invited to events because people assume that if you don’t drink, you won’t want to go. However, my experience has been that over time, people start to understand that it doesn’t really matter whether you drink or not. I think they also start to understand that if you are uncomfortable with an event, you have the choice of saying no.

Here are 10 things that you can do in New Orleans sober:

  • Go to New Orleans Museum of Art or the Sculpture Garden
  • Attend an art class or a paint your own pottery class
  • Take a fun workout class such as surfing or rock climbing or HIT
  • Go paddleboarding
  • Go to City Park, Audubon or Lafreniere
  • Go to the zoo or cool zoo
  • Get a snowball
  • Go horseback riding
  • Fly a kite at the lakefront
  • Go to one of the many coffeeshops or cafes


Kelley Lockhart-Delaune
Kelley Lockhart Delaune was born and raised In Metairie, Lousiana. She is married to her husband and has two boys, Roman (10) and Remy (8). Kelley received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from LSU and her Masters in Social Work from Tulane in 2002. Kelley is a psychotherapist in private practice. She owns Modern Therapy and Wellness, a group practice. Her and her team focus on helping others to heal themselves and their relationships. You can find her mental health and wellness blog at: In her spare time, you can find her working out, drinking coffee, going to the beach, cursing too much, staying up too late and writing.



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