Being sober in New Orleans is tough
Like, really tough. Everywhere I turn there is a drive through daiquiri shop or “Big A$$ Beers To Go” signs or people walking the streets with giant green grenade drinks. The cafe’s offer shots of Baileys or Rum to add to your coffee. The people in my life are very respectful of my decision not to drink and try to accommodate me when at all possible, but the truth of the matter is alcohol is a part of the culture here. I am extraordinarily grateful that I can compartmentalize it most of the time, but sometimes (like during Mardi Gras) it gets to me. In this city, there’s always a reason to celebrate. The question is, how do I join in the festivities without drinking or wanting to drink? Last month marked my 4th year sober, and though the temptation is always there, I’d like to share some ways I’ve learned to minimize the struggle.
Share your decision not to drink, but don’t lecture
There are those that want to hear my story. Then there are those who tip their glass and say “more for me.” I try to differentiate between the two and be mindful of how I share my decision. In sharing my choice – more is less – until they ask.
Bring your own drinks when going out
This may sound ridiculous, but having a backpack full of Stumptown Cold Brew and Diet Coke is what keeps me from feeling left out on many festival days. Having my favorite drinks on hand while those around me are drinking theirs, makes me happy.
Become a mocktail master
Friends are less likely to be disappointed in an alcohol-free gathering at your home if you have yummy mocktails on hand. There are so many great recipes on the internet that mimic even the fanciest of cocktails. I’ve discovered that many bartenders have a handful of amazing mocktails up their sleeves when you are ordering out – just ask! Mocktails are another great way to keep from feeling left out when everyone around you has umbrella drinks.
Make your expectations clear with friends and family
I have some guidelines in my house about alcohol. If you are invited to a party at my place, you will soon learn that we have a BYOB and a TYLB rule – bring your own and take your leftovers home. We have come quite a way from the no-alcohol allowed rules of past-days. In becoming more confident and comfortable with my sobriety, I have found I can loosen the reign a bit now and again.
Stay within your comfort zone
I try to stay out of situations where I am surrounded by copious amounts of alcohol and where absolutely everyone is drinking. I don’t like being the only sober one in my group when going out for a rare night out-on-the-town. When I’m with my husband or even a girlfriend who gave up alcohol for lent, I can be in the middle of a drunken crowd and be totally fine. I have found that now I am okay at dinner with girlfriends where everyone but me has a glass of wine or two. My comfort level changes as I advance through this alcohol-free journey, but I’m pretty happy with where it’s taking me.