Why is it socially difficult to be sober?

By a show of hands, who has ever said to themselves “This year, I’m going to be sober and get into the best shape of my life”? Alright, those that didn’t raise your hands, quit lying and put them up. I’m talking to you in the back trying to sneak out over there! Alright… Now, those that didn’t achieve this, put your hands down.

We’ve ALL said this same lie to ourselves. And it’s not that it’s a purposeful lie, it’s that we all live in a world where we have the best intentions and just cannot socially follow through for ourselves. That doesn’t make us liars or people that make promises to people that we can’t keep, it just makes us all liars to ourselves because we know better. Despite our best intentions, what is the most COMMON reason why we do this?

Addiction has some play on this. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Alcohol Abuse Disorder is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequence. AUD affects at least 15.1 million adults aged 18 and over, and that is only accounting for those that seek help or are diagnosed. For those people, they simply CANNOT stop themselves from drinking, let alone responsibly.

But what about the rest of the population that fails to achieve their goals in this aspect? A lot of it has to do with social pressures and societal norms when it comes to alcohol consumption. For those that are single (cough cough me), it can be daunting at best to go on a date or to a social gathering and not have some social lubricant to alleviate the jitters of the stressful environment. To then add to that, a lot of people will not understand if you don’t drink while you’re out with your friends. They’ll ask you things like “Is everything ok?” or “Are you ill?” with the best of intentions. They aren’t asking to be jerks, just because they are concerned since it’s not a normal thing to NOT drink.

For those that DO achieve their goals of doing a year of being better to their bodies, what do they typically see as far as changes in their life? Well, for one, they aren’t as fat as they were the previous year. That would go without saying since each shot of vodka is an estimated 70 calories, plus any sugary drinks that were added to that. Socially, though, they often notice that their circle of friends might either be broader or a LOT smaller because of their personal choices. Some friends hang out only if they can drink in the social environment with that person, and they won’t be coming around anymore as a result of this change. Others won’t have common ground with that friend anymore and will no longer have a reason to get together with them. For those that join a place like a large gym, they’ll find a new “cult” to hang out with… those that enjoy beating themselves up to look better naked (let’s be honest, that’s why we ALL work out). But they will find that they will likely change their friendships with a lot of the people that were familiar to them before, regardless.

Deep down, everyone that goes through this process is forever changed. It can be difficult or impossible for old friends to accept the new you because of the loss of a ritual that they once embraced with you. Now that it’s gone, it can be very hard to stay connected. For this reason, a lot of people never achieve their goals due to a lack of a support network in doing so.


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