When you discovered alcohol, did you need it to enjoy yourself before socializing? As we age, we often see those around us drinking in social situations. As we rarely attend social gatherings without alcohol, this can lead us to suppose alcohol is crucial for a good party. In law enforcement, alcohol is part of practically every social situation I have seen! With alcohol so readily available and drinking so acceptable, we can come to depend on drinking to enjoy ourselves, and even miss alcohol if it is unavailable. I am sure you, or someone you know, has noticed not having as much fun if not drinking. This could lead to the conclusion that alcohol is vital to an enjoyable social life.
Drinking is a social pastime, and many occasions that include alcohol start with good intentions but can turn into disasters. We all have stories of a friend who gets drunk and ruins a wedding. And this does not only happen at weddings. There are numerous occasions where social drinking quickly turns horrible. Maybe you can think of a time when someone drank too much at an event, maybe making inappropriate comments or getting too close or too handsy with someone. Or maybe engaging in a physical altercation that landed the person in jail.
Many of us have become accustomed to drinking on every special occasion, and it doesn’t help that advertising has ingrained the idea that drinking enhances our experiences. We confirm this when we develop an almost unnoticeable physical dependence on alcohol, a craving that, when satisfied, likely leads to enjoying the drink. Our beliefs create our reality, so if we believe drinking makes things more fun, it does. This also means that if we skip the drink, we feel deprived and have less fun. Alcohol is addictive, so this cycle continues, and eventually, a physical addiction can develop.
How do you know if alcohol makes everything more fun? When you see other people at an event who are not drinking but are having fun, how do you make sense of it? If you feel like you need alcohol to have fun, maybe it’s worth questioning that belief. Here are some options to help you out.
1. Challenge your beliefs about drinking. While we might believe drinking makes something more fun, I bet there are plenty of times when you’re drinking but still not happy or enjoying yourself. If alcohol was the vital ingredient to a fun time, wouldn’t it work all the time?
2. Get clear about what “fun” means to you. Take time to consider what really makes something fun for you. If something seems fun only when you’re a bit drunk, it’s likely not really fun and you’d benefit from doing something else with your time and money.
3. Pay attention to what you say to yourself. If you are busy telling yourself you’re no fun if you don’t drink, this will affect your perception of the event and your ability to enjoy it.
4. Take responsibility for having fun. When we’re young, we spend time creating fun by using our imagination and playing games. As adults, however, we tend to wait for fun to happen. If having fun is important to you, it is worth considering your role in creating it.
I’d like to challenge you to try out a sober-curious lifestyle for a bit, if for no other reasons than to affirm for yourself that you can indeed have fun without drinking, maybe to give your liver a break, and to check in on your relationship with alcohol.