There was a point in my mid 20s where I had a solid four-beer-a-day habit. At the time I was dating a brewer and my entire social life just happened to be tied to beer. Going out at night to meet friends for a beer or cracking open a few bottles a pal had brought back from a recent trip (or that my boyfriend had just made) was just what we did. Those four beers were probably consumed over an eight hour period, so I wasn't getting wasted every night, but even then at one point I had a moment of reckoning with myself and made moves to cut back.
When you're planning a party that's going to feature drinking, one of the worst things you can do is just not invite your sober friends. Oh, they don't drink, I don't want to make them uncomfortable. Let them make that call for themselves. And there's a lot you can do to make sure sober guests will feel welcome and comfortable at a party, even if other people are drinking.
For me, my official solution was to trade a few of those beers for Diet Coke. Although it's arguably also not all that good for you, I felt better about having two beers and two diet cokes each night rather than so much beer. Diet Coke kind of looks like a stout if people aren't looking too carefully, and it satisfied my need to hold something in my hand and be drinking while hanging out with folks without consuming so much alcohol.
Drinking less alcohol is definitely a trend. Now there are low-ABV "session beers" and a number of cocktail bars are putting out session cocktails with a lower alcohol content than their boozy counterparts. Sober September also became a thing amongst some of my friends, and apparently (according to social media) "Sober for October" is also gaining some traction.
So, how do you stop drinking cold turkey?
The Evening Standard recently talked to a doctor to get some tips.
She says that if you're a heavy drinker it's best not to go cold turkey. If your body is used to getting a lot of alcohol then cutting yourself off entirely can lead to things like headaches and trembling hands. Instead, try gradually scaling back. So, if you're drinking four beers a day, maybe try three for a week and then two.
It's also important to tell your closest friends, the people you're drinking with all the time, about your goals. If a friend knows that you're trying to cut back on drinking and why then they can be supportive in your endeavour rather than counterproductive to it.
Location also matters. Try to find a bar that serves cocktails or has other non-alcoholic drink options. What I learn from my own personal scaling back was that for the most part, it wasn't the beer I wanted (although beer is great and I love it), it was the social interaction with my pals. You can have that with a Coke just as easily.
And perhaps her best piece of advice: "Like anything else in life, it's important always to be yourself and not be swayed by other people judging you or by thinking they are judging you... So please remember that if you think people are going to judge you harshly for drinking less, it is those people who have the problem, not you."