30 votes

What do I do now that I quit drinking?

A little bit about me -- I'm in my mid-to-late-20s, male, single, recently graduated college, and I quit drinking about a year and a half ago. I never really considered myself an addict; there was never a point where I wanted to quit but I couldn't and it never interfered with work or school. I just woke up one day and told myself, "I don't want to do this anymore," so I just stopped.

The problem, for me at least, is that I live in a relatively rural part of the world. There's not a lot to do here on Friday night other than go to the bars, which never really bothered me anyways because I work nights anyways and don't really like crowded scenes. Most of my free time is in front of my computer, I've recently started getting into distance running as a hobby, and I like playing board games when I can. All of this is fine except for the fact that I can't really seem to make friends in those mutual areas of interest without alcohol anymore.

I signed up for meetup, which seems like a great way to meet new people, and I'm sure it is, in bigger cities at least. But around here, both the closest board game meetup and run club are an hour and a half away. It seems like everyone around here just wants to meet up to drink, and maybe do some other stuff along the way. (Don't get me started on making my own events here -- crowded bars already give me anxiety so organizing my own meetup with people I've never met before would be a new, special type of hell)

I think at least part of this is compounded with the fact that since I graduated, I've had a hard time making new friends. I work a very isolating job, and teetotaling only further compounds the issue that I haven't met very many new people. It's something I've thought a lot about while searching for a partner as well -- I can't/don't want to meet people at bars, and I don't really find much use out of dating apps.

Sorry if this is unorganized or hard to read, it's just a lot of thoughts I've had over the past year.

edit: another part of it too is that, since I quit without the assistance of AA or any support group, I don't have any like-minded people to do things with.

33 comments

  1. [2]
    Comment deleted by author
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    1. acdw Link Parent
      This is the best answer here -- I quit drinking a little over a year ago (actually a very similar relationship to alcohol as OP, maybe a little worse), and for a while was nervous that people...

      This is the best answer here -- I quit drinking a little over a year ago (actually a very similar relationship to alcohol as OP, maybe a little worse), and for a while was nervous that people would judge me or think I was "weird" if I didn't drink (in Louisiana, no less)! However, a year in, and it's really the same as it was before, except I don't make an ass of myself on nights out. If I'm nervous about someone being a dick, I'll get a cranberry-soda or something that looks like an alcoholic drink, but isn't -- that way, I'll "fit in" while still not drinking.

      I think this advice is applicable no matter where you move, or who you meet up with.

      2 votes
  2. [3]
    Comment deleted by author
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    1. [2]
      tunneljumper Link Parent
      Truthfully no, there isn't much keeping me around the area. I'm moving soon for grad school but I just signed a new lease on an apartment in my current area (had to get out of a bad situation and...

      Truthfully no, there isn't much keeping me around the area. I'm moving soon for grad school but I just signed a new lease on an apartment in my current area (had to get out of a bad situation and all that), and while I could move to where my grad program is sooner, I'd rather not move twice in three months.

      4 votes
      1. Nmg Link Parent
        If it leads to a significant improvement in your quality of life, I would say do so, despite the inconvenience.

        If it leads to a significant improvement in your quality of life, I would say do so, despite the inconvenience.

        4 votes
  3. [5]
    Gyrfalcon Link
    Clarifying question here. Do you mean that you are finding it difficult to socialize without the assistance of alcohol? Or do you mean that when you go to an event, everyone else is drinking and...

    Clarifying question here. Do you mean that you are finding it difficult to socialize without the assistance of alcohol? Or do you mean that when you go to an event, everyone else is drinking and you feel like you need to in order to fit in?

    5 votes
    1. [4]
      tunneljumper Link Parent
      The latter -- my personality is pretty much the same before and after I quit drinking, at least as far as I can tell. I'm just struggling to find things to do that don't involve alcohol.

      The latter -- my personality is pretty much the same before and after I quit drinking, at least as far as I can tell. I'm just struggling to find things to do that don't involve alcohol.

      6 votes
      1. [3]
        Gaywallet Link Parent
        If you're at a function with alcohol do you find it hard to resist drinking?

        If you're at a function with alcohol do you find it hard to resist drinking?

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          clone1 Link Parent
          I think the problem for him is not that these events contain alcohol, but that they revolve around alcohol. If the point of the event is to drink, and you don't want to do that, there's not much...

          I think the problem for him is not that these events contain alcohol, but that they revolve around alcohol. If the point of the event is to drink, and you don't want to do that, there's not much point to being there.

          5 votes
          1. Gaywallet Link Parent
            He talks about distance running and board games, both of which the point is not alcohol. I would even argue that you can go to a bar and socialize without drinking - the point is to socialize, not...

            He talks about distance running and board games, both of which the point is not alcohol.

            I would even argue that you can go to a bar and socialize without drinking - the point is to socialize, not to drink.

  4. smores Link
    I never drank alcohol, not for any particular reason, I've just never been interested. On the one hand, I agree to some extent that there's nothing wrong with just going to a bar if that's the...

    I never drank alcohol, not for any particular reason, I've just never been interested. On the one hand, I agree to some extent that there's nothing wrong with just going to a bar if that's the place to socialize (especially if you don't feel uncomfortable), but personally I just don't enjoy the scene, and don't blame you at all if you don't either.

    I think it's awesome that you've gotten into distance running! Are there any parks near you where people like to run? Even solitary exercise like running is a great opportunity to meet people, especially if you start seeing the same faces on your routes over and over.

    Is there anywhere to go rock climbing (indoor or outdoor) near you? I've found there to be a pretty big overlap between distance runners and climbers, and in my experience climbers are often very friendly and form pretty close-knit communities. Just showing up at a climbing gym and looking around for people who need a belay partner is basically a guaranteed way to meet people.

    I don't know if you feel like you're in a stable enough place for this, or if you're interested, but have you thought about rescuing a dog? I got my dog when I was living alone in Seattle, and all of my friends and family were on the east coast. I got a puppy, which I wouldn't really recommend, but rescuing an adult dog (especially an active one that can run with you!) is just fantastic for loneliness. Plus, you get connected to a new community of dog owners, can go to dog parks (I have absolutely made friends at dog parks!), and people will just often start conversations with you spontaneously if you're walking a dog.

    Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or want any more suggestions!

    5 votes
  5. [2]
    Comment deleted by author
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    1. Adarain Link Parent
      To add to that, the time on the road doesn’t have to be dead time either. If you’re driving a car, get yourself some audiobooks or audio dramas for on the road; if you’re in a train you can spend...

      To add to that, the time on the road doesn’t have to be dead time either. If you’re driving a car, get yourself some audiobooks or audio dramas for on the road; if you’re in a train you can spend the time reading or studying or really anything you can do with pen&paper / laptop / phone.

      I commuted two hours each way to school for a year (by train) and after the first few times it didn’t even feel very long anymore. Got a bit tiring to do daily, but doing it weekly is no issue at all, especially if there’s fun waiting on the other side.

      1 vote
  6. Neverland Link
    I feel you on this issue. I lived in a resort/party town when I did this, drinking was all everyone did. For me it was the hardest thing to overcome as well. Hobby groups were really cool to help...

    I feel you on this issue. I lived in a resort/party town when I did this, drinking was all everyone did. For me it was the hardest thing to overcome as well.

    Hobby groups were really cool to help me, including exercise stuff. I got into open water ocean swimming and r/c aircraft flying. Both had cool groups of people that helped me out in this, but didn’t know it.

    3 votes
  7. mrbig Link
    I drink about once a year, on my anniversary. It's a silly tradition I have. Not drinking only caused me problems when I dated an alcoholic who hanged out with, what I now realize, was a large...

    I drink about once a year, on my anniversary. It's a silly tradition I have. Not drinking only caused me problems when I dated an alcoholic who hanged out with, what I now realize, was a large group of codependent drug addicts. In every other social context, this is never an issue. My friends are mature enough to understand that I couldn't care less if they drink or not. I'm not silently passing judgment. Being sober is not the same as being boring... and laughing at your drunk friends is a joy in itself. You kinda become the historian of the group.

    One piece of advice: if someone offers you a drink, don't make a big deal of it. Don't say "Oh, no! I don't drink anymore!". This makes people uncomfortable and gives an opening for inconvenient remarks. Just say something to the effect of "No, thanks", "No, I'm driving" or "No, I'm on medication". The reason you are not drinking is a personal matter, and it's under your discretion to reveal it or not.

    2 votes
  8. [6]
    nic Link
    If you keep doing the same thing, you can't expect a different result. You've rejected a bunch of solid ideas. Why?

    If you keep doing the same thing, you can't expect a different result.

    You've rejected a bunch of solid ideas.

    Why?

    1 vote
    1. [5]
      tunneljumper Link Parent
      Honestly, I'm a little lost on what you're trying to say here. Could you explain what you mean?

      Honestly, I'm a little lost on what you're trying to say here. Could you explain what you mean?

      1 vote
      1. [4]
        nic Link Parent
        Sure. You have said you don't want to move closer to where more people are, as you just signed a lease. You have said you don't want to start a meetup group, as you get anxiety from crowded bars....

        Sure.

        You have said you don't want to move closer to where more people are, as you just signed a lease.

        You have said you don't want to start a meetup group, as you get anxiety from crowded bars.

        These are all solid ideas, but you have ruled them out.

        But you clearly want your life to be different.

        The only way to achieve change, is to boldly try different things.

        The world is full of fun and exciting things to try either by yourself or as part of a group. Skydiving. Motorcycle riding. Fire dancing. Juggling. Camping. Traveling. Scuba diving. Skiiing. Snowboarding. Sailing. Windsurfing.

        What are you willing to say yes to?

        10 votes
        1. [2]
          tunneljumper Link Parent
          To be honest, it took awhile for me to process this comment, but I think I've started taking it to heart. Generally I'm just trying to say "yes" to more things; I joined a local board gaming group...

          To be honest, it took awhile for me to process this comment, but I think I've started taking it to heart. Generally I'm just trying to say "yes" to more things; I joined a local board gaming group and started obsessing over audio with other people in my community. There's a lot of stuff out there to do, I just have to be willing to look for it.

          2 votes
          1. nic Link Parent
            Fantastic. I'm amazed that you actually took something to heart and decided to make a change. That is not easy. Well done. I am proud of you. Now pick one utterly ludicrous and scary thing to try....

            Fantastic.

            I'm amazed that you actually took something to heart and decided to make a change.

            That is not easy.

            Well done.

            I am proud of you.

            Now pick one utterly ludicrous and scary thing to try.

            Join Toastmasters and give a speech to a group of people who want to help you improve your public speaking.

            Travel by yourself to a strange place, and be reliant on strangers for help.

            Find one crazy assed out door activity such as rock climbing, and sign up to local a training course and learn how to do it.

            Just try it one time before you say no to the idea.

            2 votes
        2. StellarV Link Parent
          Yeah @tunneljumper, try looking into groups associated with outdoor activities. There's often people that go on runs together. You being in a rural area might make some things a little more...

          Skydiving. Motorcycle riding. Fire dancing. Juggling. Camping. Traveling. Scuba diving. Skiiing. Snowboarding. Sailing. Windsurfing.

          Yeah @tunneljumper, try looking into groups associated with outdoor activities. There's often people that go on runs together. You being in a rural area might make some things a little more complicated but you should still be able to find a group.

          1 vote
  9. papasquat Link
    Don't know what kind of rural area you live in, but they're fantastic for doing things you can't do in cities. Maybe try to get into mountain biking/skiing/kayaking/fishing/dirt bikes? (whichever...

    Don't know what kind of rural area you live in, but they're fantastic for doing things you can't do in cities. Maybe try to get into mountain biking/skiing/kayaking/fishing/dirt bikes? (whichever is applicable). Trail riding communities tend to be very welcoming of new people.

    1 vote
  10. tomf Link
    If depends why you quit drinking, but if you don't struggle with drinking, just get good ol' water in a double old fashioned glass with ice. The first time I gave up drinking I was self conscious...

    If depends why you quit drinking, but if you don't struggle with drinking, just get good ol' water in a double old fashioned glass with ice.

    The first time I gave up drinking I was self conscious about it --- so I did this for ages.

    If you did have an issue with drinking, local hobby clubs are excellent. If you're into electronics, you most likely have a hackerspare / makerspace in your area. There's always a pack of lovable weirdos there. :)

    1 vote
  11. [8]
    clone1 Link
    God, I have enough problems making friends and finding events to do in high school, life after school sounds terrifying and lonely.

    God, I have enough problems making friends and finding events to do in high school, life after school sounds terrifying and lonely.

    1 vote
    1. [7]
      demifiend (edited ) Link Parent
      Adult life is shit. Nobody knows what they're doing, and most of us are broke, miserable, or both.

      Adult life is shit. Nobody knows what they're doing, and most of us are broke, miserable, or both.

      2 votes
      1. [6]
        Algernon_Asimov (edited ) Link Parent
        Well, aren't you just a depressing old bastard? Let the poor kid get out of school, at least, before you dump your cynicism on himher!

        Well, aren't you just a depressing old bastard? Let the poor kid get out of school, at least, before you dump your cynicism on himher!

        7 votes
        1. [5]
          demifiend Link Parent
          I'm not his family, so why should I lie to him and tell him everything will be fine as long as he does what he's told? Best to give him the truth while he's young enough to use it.

          I'm not his family, so why should I lie to him and tell him everything will be fine as long as he does what he's told? Best to give him the truth while he's young enough to use it.

          1. [2]
            Tau_Zero Link Parent
            Telling OP the "adult life is shit" is as much of a lie as someone claiming "adult life is paradise". It may be your "truth", but it's certainly not everyone's. And nobody said anything about...

            Telling OP the "adult life is shit" is as much of a lie as someone claiming "adult life is paradise". It may be your "truth", but it's certainly not everyone's. And nobody said anything about "doing what he's told" for happiness, so I'm not sure where that came from.

            Clone1:
            Life after school can be hard, very hard, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. Some things may be easier, like having more money and freedom to explore your interests and the world. Some things may be harder, like making/maintaining new friendships and building a career. Some new things may hard and stressful, like building a career and managing finances. Some new things may be wonderful, like finding love and getting married. Some things are both wonderful and difficult, like raising a family. Things that turn out easy for one person may not go smoothly for another, and that's ok; don't get wrapped up in comparisons and take life commentary/complaints/praises with a grain of salt, particularly from people on the internet. You'll find different aspects of your life "progress" toward your ideals at different rates, depending both on how much effort you put in and a fair bit of luck/circumstance (which itself can be influenced). It's important to neither become complacent nor consumed with any one thing. Effort is usually necessary, though not always sufficient, for a happy outcome, but try not to get discouraged or jaded.

            (High) School is "easy" to make friends in the sense that you're placed in a group, forced to interact, and generally see that group nearly every day for 1-12 years. Some people are fortunate enough to make lifelong friends this way, others don't fit in the group and don't make many (or any), and many turn out to be friendships that work for that phase in your life (or are simply of convenience) and fade away over time. Making friends as an adult is more active work because (other than your job) you have to go out of your way to meaningfully interact with people. The friends you do make this way, in my experience, are more likely to be long-term friends. They have real shared interests (from hobbies and activities, meetups, etc.) or are in a way "pre-screened" (introduced friends of friends). Where you end up living does play a role in the variety of opportunities to meet people and how much effort it will take, both specifically (apt vs house, roommates vs single, etc.) and broadly (city vs suburban vs rural, how lively the community is, etc.)

            6 votes
            1. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
              You might need to tag @Clone1 to make sure she sees your comment to her.

              You might need to tag @Clone1 to make sure she sees your comment to her.

          2. Algernon_Asimov (edited ) Link Parent
            You don't have to actively lie, but you could have just said nothing. You didn't have to go out of your way to dump your negative view of life on him her. (And, by the way, it is just your view,...

            You don't have to actively lie, but you could have just said nothing. You didn't have to go out of your way to dump your negative view of life on him her. (And, by the way, it is just your view, not everyone's. It's not some universal truth.)

            EDIT: I misgendered Clone1.

            4 votes
          3. papasquat Link Parent
            It might be. Everything turned out fine for me. My college life consisted of barely keeping it together in class, then coming home, crying, and forcing my horrible feelings of loneliness and pain...

            It might be. Everything turned out fine for me. My college life consisted of barely keeping it together in class, then coming home, crying, and forcing my horrible feelings of loneliness and pain to subside by playing video games I didn't even like until 3 in the morning every day.

            After I graduated, I started a career I loved, made a ton of new friends, discovered new hobbies, and got married. My adult life is a hell of a lot better than my childhood ever was.

            2 votes
  12. OilyDog Link
    You could actually go to an AA meeting. The only requierement is a desire to stop drinking (or stay stopped for that matter), and it seems you clearly have that. Sometimes people go out together...

    You could actually go to an AA meeting. The only requierement is a desire to stop drinking (or stay stopped for that matter), and it seems you clearly have that.

    Sometimes people go out together after the meeting. Some meetings can have younger crowds. You might meet some people there, and the meeting itself won't be as bad a crowded bar. You are not forced to talk in a normal meeting.

    I'm mid to late twenties and almost 7 years sober. Meeting people is a bit tougher, but the sober people exist. They want to find sober friends too.

    1 vote
  13. elcuello Link
    How much did you drink and how often?

    How much did you drink and how often?

  14. demifiend Link
    I've never been a drinking man, and I've never had friends. You'll just have to suck it up and deal.

    I've never been a drinking man, and I've never had friends. You'll just have to suck it up and deal.

  15. NaraVara Link
    When I was an amateur athlete I wouldn't drink for months at a time aside from the occasional wine or beer with dinner. I live in a city with a huge happy hour culture and tons of social...

    When I was an amateur athlete I wouldn't drink for months at a time aside from the occasional wine or beer with dinner. I live in a city with a huge happy hour culture and tons of social activities revolved around drinking and took place in bars. Socializing was a little awkward for a while without a drink in my hand but I eventually got used to it.

    I've found that asking for a plain ginger ale (or a club soda with a lime and some bitters in it if you don't want all the sugar) is usually enough to not stand out much as a "non-drinker."

  16. Hypersapien Link
    Is there anything else you're interested in? Any other kinds of meetups in your area? If you can't find anything, you could always start your own meetup.

    Is there anything else you're interested in? Any other kinds of meetups in your area?

    If you can't find anything, you could always start your own meetup.