Welcome to my free guide for new or experienced teetotalers and having fun without alcohol. The benefits of becoming a non-drinker are too numerous to list, and life without alcohol is a matter of mindset. I’ll do my best to convey how much fun the alcohol-free lifestyle can be. If you’ve landed here because you want to quit drinking alcohol and you’re wary of being ostracized, you’re in the right place.
Teetotaling And All The Fun It Has To Offer
Teetotaling is a fun adjective. I like it more than the word sober. If you’re teetotal, you’re unique, and you might confuse people who can’t imagine plodding through life without alcohol. That’s their problem; you have the right to be your own person.
Unlike many sober people, who see alcohol as a mischievous devil permanently perched on their shoulders, I see alcohol as a moot substance. It’s simply a waste of my time and vital energy. I drank way too much for a decade before quitting about three years ago.
Not only did I refuse to sacrifice my social life, but I’ve had more fun these past three years than I ever did as a drinker.
Read on if you want to know what it takes to navigate modern society without drinking AND without sacrificing your fun, independence, and dignity.
I’m going to use some personal anecdotes to help me explain my strategies for going alcohol-free at dinners, parties, and weddings.
Dinners And Dates
I used to see dates, banquets, and special occasions as excuses for getting hammered. This is a self-limiting mentality that even some non-alcoholics subscribe to. Grow into a teetotaler and sticking with your decision is much more fun than living in an alcoholic haze.
However, I did suffer from major alcohol cravings when I quit drinking. I remember not knowing whether it was possible for me to have fun without drinking.
Over time, I realized that the desire to drink, aside from the physical compulsion of alcoholics, is largely a social construct. We are not hardwired to want to drink, but we are hardwired to want to enjoy the company of other people. My past belief that it was impossible to enjoy dates and dinners without alcohol was a myth, and I was the only one who could refute it for myself.
Here is a video on the many benefits of not drinking:
When you’re out with a small to medium-sized group of people, the fun you have while not drinking will depend on three things:
- Your energy level
- Your sociability level
- The quality of the people you’re out with
The bad news is that it’s hard to have fun with a rude date or a group of boring people. I used to work with number crunchers who happened to be extremely bland. Their idea of a good time was to go out to go to a club and finish a few bottles of vodka while barely talking to each other.
People say that alcohol makes other people more interesting. In reality, it makes drinkers self-satisfied and easily entertained by boring things. This is not an ideal state of mind for special occasions, which are best spent with people whom you find genuinely uplifting and interesting. The only total solution is to take total control of your life so that you don’t have to spend your leisure time with people who aren’t worth your time.
You’re not alone! Here is a video discussing why young people should go teetotal:
The good news is that with practice, you can improve your own energy levels and sociability to almost make up for being out with a bland group of people. I work out before going on dates so that my endorphins are flowing by the time I arrive. I’ve seen wit, charm, and humor on the part of one individual transform a dead dinner into raucous cascades of laughter.
Reading self-improvement blogs and books can help you devise strategies to increase your energy and sociability. Learning NLP can also be very useful for controlling your emotions and influencing other people.
Also, some people who seem boring at first are simply reluctant to open up. Try to see this as a challenge you can solve rather than an intractable problem. Shortly after I quit drinking, I spent some time with a great girl who was very shy. She used alcohol to loosen up for the first few dates. After she became comfortable around me, she told me that she thought it was refreshing that I don’t drink. She then stopped drinking around me – not for my sake, but for her own. We went on bike rides, walks in the park, and went to small parties in which all of our friends knew that I didn’t drink.
I have a good friend who entertains clients at boozy dinners as part of his managerial duties. He’s recently quit drinking, which is a difficult feat in such a position. As he gets further away from alcohol, I think he’ll begin to see that people silently respect him. If you’re in a similar position, there are a few other strategies that can help:
- Remember that most people who ask you why you’re not drinking are genuinely curious, rather than determined to change your lifestyle.
- If you’re great at what you do, you feel great, and you look great – you’re well dressed and you clearly respect your body – then no one can make fun of you without looking like a sore loser.
- To drunks who are offended by your soberism, say that you have a rare condition – just one drink can give you a migraine, make you break out in hives, or send you to the bathroom.
For the past several years, I’ve been upfront about being sober before going on dates. (I don’t say that I “teetotal”; most people have no idea what the word means.) Out of dozens of coffee dates and even bar dates, only 4 girls have refused to meet me because I don’t drink. Somehow, girls who have turned out to be the heaviest drinkers have admired my sobriety the most: “I wish I could do it / I don’t know how you do it!” is a very common response when I tell them I don’t drink.
With that said, I’ve been surprised at how many people actually prefer not to drink on dates. It seems like every other girl out there has an alcoholic ex-boyfriend who she’s relieved to be rid of.
Here is a video from a woman explaining what her teetotal experience has been like:
To be clear, I don’t make any excuses for why I don’t drink – unless I’m temporarily trapped with a belligerent drunk, which has happened once in three years. I simply say that I used to drink too much, so I quit, and now my life is much more enjoyable. I make clear that this was my personal decision and I don’t judge anyone who drinks. 99% of people will respect you if you’ve given up alcohol because you once had a problem, as long as you don’t preach about it.
Teetotal at Parties and Weddings
The strategies I discussed above also work for going teetotal at larger parties and weddings. There are a few key differences from smaller gatherings and intimate dates, in my experience:
- If you’re genuinely close to whoever is throwing the big party or wedding, it will be a blast because you have something to celebrate with people you actually care about.
- If you’re a guest or you simply don’t click with the people present, there’s nothing wrong with simply making an appearance and leaving early.
- All of your friends lining up for tequila shots at the wedding party bar can be frustrating or a funny spectacle, depending on how you choose to frame it.
- Drunk conversations between strangers that happen after midnight are rarely worth sticking around for; you’re not missing out by going home and sleeping.
- If you’re having fun but getting tired, most bars serve coffee – I met up with some great friends last NYE and was able to stay conversational until 2 AM this way.
I had a hard time with sudden alcohol cravings for months after I gave up alcohol. It wasn’t that I needed alcohol, it was that my body wanted sugar, didn’t have enough magnesium to feel relaxed, didn’t get enough sunlight (vitamin D), and my brain didn’t produce enough serotonin and dopamine. At a wedding only a few months after I quit drinking, it was tough for me to sit there feeling mildly subpar while my friends laughed over shots. This moment soon passed though, and I had a great time at the rest of the wedding because I was with great people.
My alcohol cravings went away because I tackled my nutrition proactively. I also ramped up my workouts until my physique became a point of pride. Eventually, my fitness level morphed into an unintended conversation piece when I met up with old friends. Not only do I not feel cravings anymore, but I don’t want to contaminate my hard-won progress.
It might sound arrogant, but these days I often suspect that people who drink around me are trying to get on my level of well-being. I don’t judge them or pity them; they have the right to do whatever makes them feel good. I used to drink more than all of them and I ruined my body for years. My priority is to enjoy being fit and feeling great. If other people want to drink, that’s their business, but I’ve been there and done that. On to new things!
Here is a motivational video from Tiffany, who quit drinking, and what her understanding of life has been since:
Alternatives To Alcohol
While I’m totally in favor of going sober, I’m not one to preach against mind alteration. I use meditation, breathing techniques, and exercise to alter my state of mind almost every day. There are also a number of supplements, herbs, and drugs that are much safer than alcohol.
I don’t recommend that you use all of them recreationally, but they are worth knowing about in case they can enhance your quality of life. I have mixed views on prescription drugs, which I think are overused but useful in specific circumstances.
Below is a list of mood-enhancing substances that are safer than alcohol. I’m not a doctor, so none of this is medical advice. Consult with a medical professional before trying anything new.
- Benzodiazepines – These can be as addictive as alcohol but they are extremely effective for reducing anxiety during withdrawal. If you have clinical anxiety, a doctor may prescribe you with benzodiazepines to help you deal better with social situations. I’ve only taken these while detoxing from alcohol. If I had to take them for anxiety, I would study self-improvement literature (e.g., Tony Robbins) until I could tackle life without them.
- Propranolol – This is a miracle prescription drug that combats severe situational anxiety without providing any euphoria. As a beta-blocker, it simply prevents adrenaline from building up in your bloodstream and makes it impossible for you to have a panic attack. Because it does not cause any sort of high, it is totally non-addictive. This can be effective for people who are in early recovery from alcoholism and want to prevent panic attacks in nerve-wracking situations. In the months after I quit drinking alcohol, propranolol helped me to maintain my composure during several stressful events.
- Phenibut – This nootropic supplement was developed to treat anxiety in Soviet astronauts. I’ve used it numerous times with good results. It does not create any sort of high in low doses, but it does create a “smooth sailing” feeling. It can be useful in preventing social anxiety if you’re new to a life without alcohol (in Russia, it’s prescribed to recovering alcoholics). Take carefully because daily use can lead to addiction.
- Kratom – This herb is a godsend for people with chronic pain and post-acute withdrawal syndrome. As with phenibut, daily use can cause addiction. I’ve used it about 5 times and I’ve noticed a pleasant stimulatory effect. It doesn’t cause a high like alcohol does; more of a sense of heightened well-being, with variations depending on the strain. Along with phenibut, kratom is a good option for non-drinkers who want to attend a once in a lifetime concert or a party. To ensure the best quality, I strongly recommend Top Extracts for purchasing kratom. You can learn about kratom, and in particular how to use it for alcohol withdrawal, by reading my article on kratom.
- Marijuana – I’m not a pothead, and I don’t recommend that you become one either, but let’s be honest: as a drug, weed is much safer than alcohol. It kills zero people each year, while alcohol kills 88,000. This fact alone should help you see how irrational the groupthink surrounding alcohol really is. Millions of people with severe social anxiety and medical conditions are helped by this plant.
- Kava – This ground root from the Pacific islands contains kavalactones, which induce relaxation and even euphoria. There are bars in Hawaii that serve kava instead of alcohol. I’ve tried kava a few times and each time it made me feel so relaxed that I fell asleep. Apparently I tried a type that makes people sleepy, and there are others that bring relaxation without drowsiness. If you want to purchase kava, I recommend that you buy it from Top Extracts.
- Yerba Mate – This tea from South America creates a very uplifting and euphoric natural high. I will often consume it before dates, because it has the unique ability to relax my mind and energize my body. I use dark roast yerba mate by the Mate Factor every morning and sometimes before events. It is the perfect substitute for coffee and does not cause any jitters. In fact, if you’re trying to cut down your coffee consumption, you’ll avoid withdrawals and feel better if you start switching to yerba mate.
- Maca Powder – Also from South America, maca root is very effective at reducing fatigue. I’ve used it along with yerba mate and they seem to have a synergistic effect. The amino acids and plant compounds in maca powder create a noticeably heightened sense of general well-being. I use Herbal Secrets Organic Maca Root Powder.
- Passionflower, Chamomile, Lemon Balm – This trio has relaxed me on more occasions than I can count. Take care with the dosages because it can put you right to sleep.
- Reishi Mushroom – A good friend who used to have social anxiety has told me that Dragon Herbs Wild Reishi works wonders for his state of mind. Knowing the value of his word and the eye-popping price tag on this stuff, I don’t doubt him for a second. I will be ordering some and posting a review.
- Calm Support – If you’re new to this because you had an alcohol problem, this formula can help you beat cravings and feel good again. Check out my review of Calm Support here.
Becoming alcohol-free is far from the end of the world. You can navigate the social dilemmas posed by not drinking in a culture obsessed with alcohol. Most importantly, you may just discover some new ways to enhance your personality and your health.
Your most memorable experiences will have very little to do with the amount of alcohol present. One thing I’ve learned since I quit drinking is that great times stand out more in my memory. On many of these occasions, other people were drinking and I was not.
Moreover, my own alcohol-free lifestyle never stands out as my defining memory of these events. I remember great conversations, friendly faces, positive vibes, and the ambiance or scenery of whatever the venues were. I’m glad that I didn’t avoid my long-time friends just because I’d quit drinking. I naturally fell out of touch with the few friends I had who were simply alcoholic drinking buddies.
I also remind myself that alcohol doesn’t have a monopoly on mind alteration. A great workout creates endorphins for hours. Eating healthy food improves your energy levels. If you’re anxious, tired, or depressed, look into nutritional supplements that can repair your physiology. If you still can’t seem to feel your best without alcohol, don’t give up! Something on the list in the previous section, or elsewhere on this website, may be able to help you.
People often ask me if I still take all of the supplements I’ve written about on this site. The answer is that I only take supplements as needed, or to assess their effects for an article. Luckily, I haven’t needed anything for alcohol withdrawal or PAWS in a long time!
If you have any questions about this guide, please leave them in the comment box below.
“Why is not drinking called T Total?”
It’s spelled teetotal, and there are varying accounts of where it came from. Etymological dictionaries say the “tee” is indeed for capital T, as in “total with a capital T.” Some point to a speech given by a temperance advocate with a stutter who addressed a meeting by saying that his abstinence would be, “t-t-total forever and ever.” (source)
Do teetotalers look younger?
Because alcohol dehydrates skin and depletes vital nutrients, people who drink frequently tend to age much faster. Alcohol also increases systemic inflammation, leading to premature aging. If you’re considering leaving alcohol behind, check out this guide to body repair after quitting drinking.
Is teetotal healthy?
Research has shown that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. Some studies have found that moderate drinkers outlive teetotalers, but these did not account for the fact that many heavy drinkers quit drinking too late and then die early.