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Dry July advice - How to tell people you’re not drinking

Dry July is a time where people stop drinking alcohol for the month to help raise funds for an important cause. However, it can also be a great starting point for people to begin their sobriety journey.

Going 31 days without drinking has a plethora of benefits on your physical and mental health and wanting to maintain these gains is a worthy pursuit. However, telling people that you no longer want to drink after Dry July may cause you to have some awkward conversations.

To help you navigate this new era of sobriety, Sober Awkward Podcast creator and host, Victoria Vanstone provides some tips on how to tell people you are no longer drinking.

From the reliable drinking buddy to 5 years of sobriety

Victoria first started the Sober Awkward podcast back in 2021 and one of the first ever episodes she released was about telling people you no longer want to have an alcoholic beverage.

“The reason it was an early podcast episode is because at the time it felt so overwhelming to tell people I wasn’t drinking and I could imagine a lot of people who want to give up drinking probably feel the same way at the beginning.”

“I was the party girl with no off switch, part of that was due to my people pleasing ways. I thought I was letting people down by quitting drinking at first.”

When Victoria first gave up drinking it was only her immediate family that knew. It took 18 months before she started telling friends at parties and social gatherings she no longer drank alcohol.

“At first I would hold a beer pretending to drink because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. However, the time did come. I needed to be more open about what I was doing.”

“Although I do wish I owned my sobriety a bit more at the beginning, it does take time to re-frame your social life. Learning to understand I didn’t have to be passed out in a pub toilet for people to like me takes a long time to learn.”

How to tell people you are sober and why you should do it

When Victoria started to socialise again in settings where alcohol would be present she would tell some friends prior to the event that she would not be drinking.

“I always recommend to people who want to give up drinking, before going out have a tea with someone who will be there or organising the event and explain you're not drinking anymore so it isn't as awkward.”

“Some other advice I have is to take cash with you so you don’t have any awkward bill situations. Always drive and don’t offer lifts because you’ll end up waiting all night for the drunk people. People often relapse in that situation because they get sick of waiting.”

“Choose places that are quieter and you can have a meaningful conversation. Don’t go to your local haunt where you know the bouncers and barman because they have certain expectations of you.”

As Victoria started telling more people she grew more confident in her sobriety.

“It is like a brick wall you are building. Every time you go out and stay out without drinking you are adding a brick to this confidence wall, which helps you build up to feeling confident in any social situation.”

One thing that surprised Victoria when she started telling people she was sober was that most people were very supportive.

“I was scared people were going to give me a hard time. But that doesn’t really happen, it's a bit of a fallacy actually. More people are actually quite supportive when you tell them you stop drinking.”

“The few that might not be supportive or get offended that you don’t drink don’t take it too personally, because it’s usually because they have a problem themselves. In fact, keep those friendships, because they're the ones that are going to need support later on.”

Using Dry July as a starting point

If you are someone who wants to give up drinking Victoria says Dry July can be a great starting point.

“Any time off alcohol is a positive choice and if you can use that time to reconsider your relationship with alcohol that is a good use of time. Whether you drink again or not after taking the time to reflect is going to have a positive effect.”

“Dry July can also be a great preventative measure to stop people who don’t necessarily struggle with their alcohol usage. Participating in Dry July can stop people getting to point where alcohol becomes a problem and it becomes harder to quit.”

“However, there is this issue of people drinking more post Dry July, going into this wet August. It can be used as a justification for their heavy drinking.”

To ensure you benefit from participating in Dry July and to increase your chances of not drinking in the future Victoria recommends focusing on the benefits of giving up alcohol.

“When I first gave up drinking I kept a journal of how I was feeling each day I didn’t drink. If people participating in Dry July do something like this you are highly likely to have a list of benefits to giving up drinking which you can use as motivation to continue.”

For more advice on how to make the most of Dry July this year check out the Sober Awkward episode on Having a Month off.


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