Drinking is a very sociable pasttime, right? Fast forward to the end of the night and your best friend has had enough booze to really say what he thinks about you, pushing out hateful words (and maybe punches). Or, you enter a pub in the middle of the day and you belly up to the bar with the "locals" who star at the back wall, somber and obviously aged by years of drinking. Real sociable, eh?

That is my story. I spent 10 years frequenting establishments and making fast friends with anyone who would hear my drunken banterings. I even convinced myself they were my real friends: I attended their weddings, gave them business advice, etc. I felt like I was the most popular kid on campus. But what happens when you take away the drinking? I had nothing in common with them outside of our common love for the drink. Nothing.

Despelling the myth: When I was a kid I joined clubs neither to be sociable nor to drink. I was in debate, theater and sports...because I liked the activity and being around those who enjoyed it as well. In hindsight, that was the most enjoyable social activities in my life. Today I am excited to enjoy going to weddings and other celebrations without the need to drink. I took it one event at a time and sat and thought the entire time...",man I am glad I can engage in REAL conversations with people and know that I dont have to worry about driving home or being hung over the next day."

We have been raised to believe through our parents, the media and general society that drinking is a lovely and pleasant social event. It is essential for fitting in at parties, weddings, graduations and retirement celebrations. But, is it really esential to enjoying the event?

We think so. But what happens when we seek those who drink as a main pasttime? In other social clubs, we choose to socialize with people who enjoy the same activities we do, golf, bowling, choir, etc. But, what do we do if we have built a social network from the various bars and pubs we have been frequenting for years? My suggestion in the initial days of sobriety that you not disconnect with your friends who happen to drink occasionally, but cut ties with those you met through drinking. It was hard for me to disinguish that at first, but it I sooned realized that the friends who pushed me to drink or downplayed my addiction were ones I shouldn't be with. Send them a silent blessing and move on.

I can say there was a considerable void when I quit drinking. This is void that kept me from getting sober sooner. This is the void that plagues many drinkers...the lonliness of a newly sober person. Yes, your social circle will close in, but I can assure you, this will be replaced with new people that will enrich your life. That is my experience.

Being sober in social situations has been the most incredible high for me...you are clear to really get to know people and to be mindful about your surroundings. I have made great friends and became an example of living a very social, but sober life.

What are your thoughts?

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