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Accepting your sober self

Dealing with soberdom on a night out

Written by Cian Aherne | View this authors Twitter page and posted in opinion

This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for please contact

"A great challenge in life is learning to have fun and be ok with yourself without needing a drink to do so"

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Not drinking or getting drunk on a night out can be very isolating for a young person and you can feel left out or that you don’t belong. I have experienced this on hundreds of occasions since the age of 13 and I’m writing this piece to let other such young people know that it is ok not to drink and it’s also ok not to drink to excess.

People may laugh at you, try and coax you to take drinks, look at you strangely or exclude you from drunken fun but real friends learn to understand, accept it and will make efforts to keep you included. Some people can experience guilt if they are drinking and you are not or that you are judging them in some way by taking a stand and saying ‘no’. Some people may also repeatedly ask you for an explanation as to why you are not drinking on a certain night in their attempts to get you to join in.

It is really difficult to just say ‘no’ that you will not drink or you will not get drunk but I have found that by doing this and continuing to do this you learn a lot about yourself and your friends in the process. A great challenge in life is learning to have fun and be ok with yourself without needing a drink to do so.

I’m not against alcohol and I haven’t had any life changing experiences due to alcohol abuse like some famous tee totallers such as Lana Del Ray or Ewan McGregor (list of notable tee totallers) but I just figured, from a young age, that it wasn’t for me. It proved a difficult decision and there were many times when I wondered would it not just be easier to join in. I still get the self-conscious looks when meeting some drunk mates on a night out but it gets easier and you can find your own way to have fun and be comfortable in the environment.

Des Bishop’s recent documentary (Under The Influence) featured a positive example of young Irish people moving to change the world’s perception of them. He interviewed a number of young Irish people who stated that they were tired of the current perception in Ireland of young people as drunken louts.

They felt that a way of combating this perception was to not drink and find other ways of enjoying themselves instead. I know that this may not be the case for the majority of young people but it could be an interesting trend considering the constant negative portrayal of Irish young people’s drinking habits. Irish young people should be known for their vitality, heart and generosity not their tendency to drink alcohol.

Another encouraging movement is that of Hello Sunday Morning where people are encouraged to take breaks from alcohol from time to time and notice the benefits of a hangover-free Sunday morning.

10 benefits of not drinking too much on a night out:

  • You can hold a meaningful conversation with other people
  • You’ll have a clear head the day after
  • You’ll remember all the fun you had
  • You’ll most likely hold onto your phone and wallet
  • You can save money
  • You’ll be less susceptible to a cold
  • Your clothes will remain clean
  • Your physical health will not deteriorate
  • You will only make phone calls that you want to make
  • You will not pose as a risk to yourself or others

If you can be more accepting of your sober self, you will be able to enjoy yourself  more regardless of what decisions you make around alcohol. One of the biggest traps young people can fall into is drinking to escape. If you are experiencing difficulties in life, it is much better for your well-being to chat about them rather than try to numb or block them out with alcohol.

Another major trap can be drinking to fit in. If the only way you can fit in with a group is by having to drink alcohol with them, then your relationships can be constructed on a perception of you that is not really you at all. I’m not asking for young people to stop drinking, all I’m saying is that it is ok not to. It is worth asking yourself how drinking to excess really makes you feel and what your drinking habits say about you.

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Published June 5th, 2013
Last updated July 24th, 2018
Tags alcohol drink socialising
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