From Sunday roasts with the family to networking events and impromptu catch-ups with friends, alcohol is synonymous with all things communal, so going dry isn’t just a physical or mental decision, it’s a social one too.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the occasional tipple as decompressant or conversational lubricant, alcohol is so ingrained in British culture that it has become a non-negotiable in many young people’s social lives. As a nation, the UK revels in getting wasted on a night out and according to the NHS more than 10 million people in England regularly drink "above low risk levels", with alcohol being the biggest risk factor for death among people aged 15-49.
Maintaining sobriety when social lives revolve around drinking and partying can be a challenge, and the fear of losing friends or becoming a shut-in means a lot of us may find the prospect of quitting drinking daunting, especially those struggling with anxiety and depression. How many of us have said we’d cut out (or at least cut back on) alcohol if it wouldn’t affect our social lives? With our busy schedules, after-work pints or nights out are the only free time we have to catch up with mates, and the thought of giving those up can be scary. We each have a unique and complex relationship with our vices and coping mechanisms, but it’s important to learn that it is possible to have a healthy social life without them.
In a culture that glamorises binge-drinking and raging, being a sober twentysomething makes you an anomaly, so we asked young people how quitting alcohol affected their social landscape, and how to have a life without relying on booze.