A couple of weeks ago, we talked about the risks of drinking alcohol and why significantly cutting down your intake could be a lifestyle worth trying out—or maybe even adopting for good.
But I know living a low- or no-alcohol lifestyle can come with challenges for some. Whether for societal, social, or emotional reasons, pumping the brakes on drinking may not be as easy as it sounds.
This week, I thought I could offer you three quick, practical tips for how to make living a low-alcohol or alcohol-free lifestyle easier and less awkward for you and your peers.
The first two tips in my protocol are things that I have stress-tested myself, so I can give you the personal assurance that they work. And the last two are some helpful guides and resources on alcohol alternatives and addiction.
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Let’s jump in!
- Let people know in advance that you’re not drinking. This is something I’ve done in the past before going out to eat with a group of friends (who might be heavy drinkers) to avoid any awkwardness at the table when the waiter goes around asking for everyone’s drink orders.I’ve learned that when I proactively text folks to tell them I’m not drinking at the moment, it takes the pressure off the situation. It also takes the pressure off my friends if they want to drink. Hey, no judgment!Here’s a sample of a text I’ve used with some friends in the past during periods of time when we were avoiding alcohol. Feel free to copy it word for word and use it for yourself!
- Plan activities with friends in the morning, not around happy hour. This is one of the big ideas behind my Man Morning squad in LA. My guy friends and I will meet up and go for a hike every Thursday morning for an hour with a cup of coffee or tea. The focus of these meet-ups is to connect, share, and support one another, which I find is way easier to do without the influence of alcohol.Man Morning is a regular, recurring event that all the guys have on their calendars. Whoever can make it shows up and knows exactly what to expect: a good conversation led by our question of the day, coffee, and some morning movement. I find that the movement component is a great stimulus that helps keep the conversation flowing.
- Alcohol alternatives for better metabolic health. Alcohol, in general, tends to be high in carbs, especially mixed drinks. And mocktails are no exception. Even though they don’t contain any alcohol, some mocktails can really rack up the sugar with juices, syrups, and sweeteners. Try these metabolically healthy alcohol alternatives from my friends at Levels instead.
- Helpful resources on the topic of alcohol and addiction. Alcohol is a topic that comes with a lot of emotion and history for some, and I want to acknowledge that choosing not to consume alcohol might not be that simple for everyone.Many people struggle with addiction or know somebody who struggles with it, which is why I wanted to share two books that have helped many people in my circle understand the nature of addiction and dependence on a deeper level.
- In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Dr. Gabor Maté. All of us have varying degrees of pain and trauma in our lives. The core theme of Dr. Maté’s book is that addiction is the manifestation of pain that has not been dealt with, and to truly treat addiction we must find and treat the root cause of the pain. You can hear more about the book in my interview with Dr. Maté here.
- Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker. My sister Kaya Purohit recommended this book and said that it helped her rethink her relationship with alcohol. The book is written from the perspective of a woman who fell victim to a society obsessed with drinking. Whitaker addresses the drinking culture in women and why conventional treatment for addiction ignores the complex nature of a woman’s biology.
- Alcohol addiction resources. If you need help navigating alcohol addiction, here are some free resources and support groups you can look into:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA): Here, you’ll find a number to SAMSA’s national helpline for substance abuse disorders and free resources.
- Al-Anon: A free support group for families and friends of alcoholics.
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): This group has helped alcoholics achieve sobriety for over 80 years by leaning on the support of their peers and a 12-step program rooted in spiritual principles. AA isn’t the right fit for everyone, but it has a fantastic reputation for being an accessible institution for recovery. Check out my interview with Dr. John Kelly, Professor of Psychiatry in Addiction Medicine at Harvard Medical School, on destigmatizing addiction and the power of AA for long-term recovery to learn more.
Final Thoughts: What a Low-Alcohol Lifestyle Looks Like for Me
I was never a big drinker, so adopting the low-alcohol lifestyle wasn’t a huge reach for me. But one thing I have noticed is that the older I get (I turned 40 last year), the higher price my body pays after drinking—it’s just not worth it to me.
Now, I’ll go a month or two at a time without drinking any alcohol, and it’s no big deal. With that being said, if I’m at a wedding or special occasion, and I want to have a drink with friends, I will totally do it and not feel bad about it.
I also have a lot of friends who are wine enthusiasts, and I actually really enjoy tasting wine, but I’ve found that I only need a sip or two to get the feel of it, and I don’t feel the need to drink an entire glass. I’m not saying that works for everyone else, but it works really well for me.
That’s what my low-alcohol lifestyle looks like. I personalized it for me and my goals as of right now, but it could always change in the months and years to come. I’ll be sure to let you know if it does!
Here’s to your health,