Wanna stay sober at a party without doing damage to your social life? Saying no to alcohol is way easier than you think, and if you do it right, you'll end up looking much cooler than all the binge drinkers around you.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 5 Minutes
Here's How:
  1. Clue in a friend or two. If you tell your BFF before the party that you plan on staying sober, you'll be more likely to stick to your word than if you keep it to yourself.
  2. Plan to be the designated driver (only if you have a license, of course). That way, you'll have an easy, non-negotiable excuse for not drinking. Plus, your friends will totally owe you one.
  3. If someone tries to hand you a drink, say you have to be somewhere later. To them, it'll sound like you're saying, "This party might be cool enough for you, but I've got bigger and better places to go." (Note: this doubles as a great excuse if you ever show up at a party wearing nice clothes while everyone else is dressed casually.)
  4. Carry around a cup filled with soda or water. People will assume you're drinking booze, and there's no reason why you have to set the record straight for them.
  5. If people keep bothering you to take a drink, say you're having enough fun without it. It'll probably make them wonder why they aren't secure enough to have fun without being wasted. (Besides, you'll be telling the truth.)
  6. If you're still not comfortable, leave the friggin' party. People who don't know how to party without drinking - and without forcing everyone around them to drink - aren't worth partying with.
  1. Don't be fooled: the real reason everyone at parties wants you to drink is because they're insecure. They don't want to be around anyone sober who might notice what sloppy drunks they're being.
  2. You might think you're the only person at the party who isn't drinking, but that's probably not true. Other people might be sober but are choosing not to draw attention to themselves. These people are your party soulmates! Stick with them, and you're sure to have a fun time.
Reader Stories:
Alcohol free Zone

Not drinking anymore is not fun:


Not drinking around people who are having fun drinking is definitely not fun.

A recent study has shown that 100% of people I know consume alcohol except for my dad. Portland loves its booze. I understand why. Drinking is a fantastic activity. The excuses one has to drink are a lot more enticing than the excuses one has to be sober. Just the anticipation of drinking is enough to get you through a shit day at work. But when your Thirsty Thursdays are lasting until Can’t Stop Now Wednesday, it’s probably time to get your act together.

If you’re sober like me and have also noticed that an enjoyable night on the town is as rare as a Billy Ripken “Fuck Face” baseball card, these tips might make the experience a bit more bearable. After all, just because you can’t have fun anymore doesn’t mean you have to be miserable.

Whether you’re at a bar with a large group or a couple close friends, the first trick is to appear to be interested in being there. I took the bitter, quiet asshole approach for years and always came off looking like one. You don’t necessarily have to start a conversation, but don’t blow off people who want to start one with you.

The further into the night you go, the easier this gets. Do not let your sobriety discourage your companions from drinking heavily as early in the evening as possible. This will hasten the transition from uncomfortable small talk to the more interesting world of drunk talk.

Once the people you’re with are properly oiled, they won’t be as shy about approaching you. Common topics include sports, politics and, most commonly, themselves. Try not to be overwhelmed with details. Focus on the topic at hand and the person’s name (e.g. capitalism, Jim). You can get away with providing very little input if you maintain eye contact and nod your head every few seconds.

Yeah, mmhmm, and sure are three key words to remember when talking with someone who’s been drinking. Avoid negative facial expressions and words like no, which can cause people to stop talking and ask your opinion. It’s hard to have a passionate opinion about anything when you’re sober, and starting an argument with a drinker is never a good idea. When I first stopped drinking, I assumed I would suddenly be the smartest, wittiest person in the bar. This has proven to be quite false. Drunk people have two advantages I now completely lack: loudness and confidence.

Heavy drinkers need to make frequent trips to the bar. This is advantageous to you for a couple reasons. First, it ends conversations more quickly. Also, the friends I’m out with usually notice the pathetic glass of water in front of me and ask if I want something a little fancier. Always accept such offers.

Nowadays it’s hard to find a decent pint of beer for under five dollars. Sodas, unless the bartender is cruel, are usually free in these situations. Every time someone in your group gets up for more drinks, make sure you get a soda out of the deal. Whether diet or regular, sodas tend to make you feel sick after the third or fourth one. Don’t stop accepting them, though. Drinking lots of soda will eventually lead to frequent bathroom trips that you can also use as conversational cover.

(Note: Unless you want to spend the next hour with your friends talking about the fact you just ordered a non-alcoholic beer, don’t order a non-alcoholic beer.)

A lot of ex-drinkers like to smoke. If you’re one of them, I’m sure I don’t need to remind you to bring a good amount of cigarettes with you, both for your own consumption and to pay off all your non-smoking companions who become smokers after a few drinks. With all the money you’ve been saving on alcohol, there’s really no excuse for you not to be smoking. Plus, smoking, like peeing, can be a great way to escape, at least for a few minutes.

One of the hardest things to avoid is the heart-to-heart talk. These usually start after someone’s eighth or ninth beverage. Heart-to-hearts are especially tricky because your companion craves an emotional response from you and can easily mistake your sober tone for indifference or even sarcasm.

A steady series of yeahs and nodding will not be enough in this situation. Reciprocating these sentiments to anyone has always been difficult for me.

 Alcohol used to make it easier. I haven’t figured out a way to do it sober without sounding like I’m full of shit. If you find yourself struggling through a heart-to-heart, my only advice is to remember that your friend probably won’t remember the conversation come tomorrow.

Once you’ve mastered being comfortable around your drunk friends, you can prepare to encounter acquaintances.

Portland is a small town. People run into people they know all the time when they’re out. There aren’t many things more uncomfortable than trying to catch up with someone you struggled to make small talk with five years ago. Do whatever you can to avoid these people. If cornered, at least try to remember their name. It’s impossible to follow anything someone’s saying when the only thing running through your head is, Is this guy Dan or Dave?

Another type to avoid are former high school classmates. I live only one town away from where I went to high school, so it’s not uncommon for me to run into someone who went to the same school at the same time. This is, more often than not, the only thing we have in common. I’ve learned from hard experience that asking these people what they’ve been doing never leads to an interesting story.

I can see how, if you’re on vacation in Mexico and run into an old schoolmate, it would be appropriate to ask, “What the hell are you doing here?” You really don’t need to inquire if you see this person at Amigo’s.

The final and most difficult skill for any ex-drinker to master is the early bar exit. Being sober is exhausting, and you’ll probably be ready to head home much sooner than your friends. I’ve tried sneaking out after a bathroom trip, but always paid for it the next day. Friends would call to complain and I’d find myself nodding my head and repeating “yeah … mmhmm … sure” into the phone. You may even lose friends this way, and you don’t want to be stuck making new ones, do you? I’m 32 years old and the last thing on my to-do list right now is to make new buddies.

I recommend you announce your departure to the group. Saying your goodbyes individually is time consuming and you can get stuck in another conversation. Also, make sure you pee and have one last cigarette before you leave the premises.


Now that you’ve survived the evening without looking like the downer you’ve become, get some sleep. Hopefully, if you’ve followed my advice, you will have tricked your friends into thinking you had as good a time as they did. This is important, because it always matters what other people think of you. And who knows — with enough practice, you may even trick yourself into enjoying a night on the town sometime.


1. I’ve discovered that I want a drink. Badly. Especially when I’m having a horrible day. I never thought of myself as one to self-medicate, but there it is. This begins to make me realize that a month off from all booze is maybe a good thing.


2. I’ve learned that almost EVERY social engagement has something to do with alcohol. From bowling to dinner, people push drinks on you. Not intentionally. They just offer. And wonder why you’re not having any.


3. Thus, I’ve realized just how hard it must be for an alcoholic to have friends who still drink. It feels shitty to be around slightly drunk people and be the only one sober. Refer back to #1.


4. Some people are cool with it – the experiment of not drinking. Some people aren’t. They get defensive. Like I’m judging them for still drinking. It gets worse when I say that I “might” have a problem with alcohol.


5. At first, I didn’t like going to social events anymore. Because I was scared that I wouldn’t be funny or social without a glass of wine to relax me. Alcohol is a social lubricant, right?


6. I discovered that after awhile, it’s normal not to drink anymore. I’m on week 4, and it’s turning into a normal night for me to just have a glass of water with dinner.


7. I’m losing a ton of weight by doing nothing other than avoiding my usual one or two drinks every other night. Seriously. It’s like magic.


8. I’ve also discovered that I look better and I feel better. My body, especially as it gets older, just can’t handle the booze anymore. Even a glass later, and my head starts to buzz. I think that my liver is older, too, because it felt like longer to process the alcohol in my system. I felt, in essence, drunk faster and longer. Now, I don’t get as many headaches or upset stomachs. Coincidence? Maybe. But see below.


9. I sleep better. Drinking at night was making me restless. I know it’s a depressant, but a glass or two at night was making it more difficult for me to get a solid night of actual rest. Now I wake up feeling like I actually slept.


10. I’m less depressed. And dark. And moody. Which, although it makes me funnier, is better off dead.


Why I Don't Drink Alcohol Anymore

When i was younger alcohol was my friend.  I joined the army and could drink on post at 18.  It was fun.  I could drink guys under the table.  because of the shortage of women i could leave with enough money for 1 drink and come home that evening totally wasted.  after the army I continued top drink.and i would have continued to this day if Halloween haddent happened

I live near a college town to drinking is a big deal here and any thing can lead to a big celebration.  And so it was Halloween night.  all the bars were having costume contests prizes would be awarded .  My dear husband and i planned our costumes carefully and hired a sitter for this the night.  we left dressed as death and a ghost.  we were very cool. 

Parking in a city lot we began or night of fun.  We walked from bar to bar attending the contests and wining. we won shots we son 1/2 priced drinks we one free drinks.  Along about 2 we returned to the car.  it was horrible the lot was small and the cars were parked so close I was not sure we would ever get out. in and out he shuffled the car and i was outside giving him direction.  about 45 minutes of jockying around we finally freed our car and started home. 


The next day concerned citizens that we are we headed down to take pictures of the lot and to suggest in a strongly worded letter qbout how the lines were painted making it an unsafe lot .  i was shocked the lot was huge  each spot ould easily park one and onehalf cars.  it was easy to manuver the car around.  that scared me  my preception had been so off the night before.  how did we make it home alright.

Well the easy answer is NO, and that’s why most people worldwide with a severe alcohol problem don’t even realize it. They seem to have their blinkers on and are only interested in seeing what’s in front of them rather than stepping outside of their own little box, and people like this hardly ever admit that alcohol plays a part in their life.

How would know for certain that you have a drinking issue?

You have to begin taking steps and asking yourself a few pretty severe questions about your own behavior.

You might think diagnosing any illness like drinking is simple, and it is if you follow the appropriate process, just like you would for diagnosing anything else.


So, here are eleven questions which you need to be asking yourself regarding your own personal relationship with alcohol.


If by any chance they do apply to you, then you will need to take further action, and begin treating your alcohol issue today!


1 - When I’m consuming alcohol does it cause problems?


2 - I’m constantly seeking additional alcohol when I have exceeded my limit?


3 - Have you made an attempt at Quitting alcohol before?


4 - Do I try and conceal alcohol in or around the home?


5 - After I get intoxicated do I constantly forget what I’ve done?


6 - When I am drinking does my personality change and I become another person?


7 - When I am inebriated do I become frightening or get angry with other people?


8 - When you’re in a sad mood, or you’re alone are you always looking for the bottle?


9 - Do you tend to fall out with the people around you, like friends and family when you have been drinking?


10 - Is your health affected when drinking too much alcohol?


11 - Ever thought how much your life would change for the better if you stopped drinking?


Why I don't drink anymore poem......



 I used to get a heavy head


To the bottle, my feet led


I got so delirious


Never one time, curious


My hormones raged with so


much fuel


My hormones were sex inside a




Ultimately where my knees




On the bed I laid plainly humbled


Actually it is known as being




Not giving a thought to what the


alcohol had done


I got cirrhosis, a liver disease


Just think, all I used to say was


 “pass the bottle please”


Depression raised its ugly head


A mirror of the life I had led


Prozac and Zoloft, to name two


Antidepressants the doc said


may do


What the alcohol did to my state


of mind


Wore on my body over some time


Now with the medication I now




A mixed drink I no longer make


To the bottle, I’m no longer a




For life’s sake, I don’t drink




These girls below could be your kids....

Drug Treatment Centers info Only Page 7

Dating and Alcohol



As a teenager, you'll face tough choices about drinking, as well as tough choices about having sex. No matter what choices you make about one or the other activity individually, there are some things about the relationship between sex and alcohol that are important for everyone to know.

Plain and simple, alcohol alters your ability to think clearly. When you drink, at some point you will begin to see the world through "beer goggles"; i.e., you likely will become less picky about selecting whom you hook up with, how you go about having sexual experiences, and when you have sex with someone. A study conducted in Great Britain revealed that:

After drinking alcohol, one in seven 16-to-24-year-olds have had unprotected sex, while one in five have had sex that they regretted. One in 10 have been unable to remember if they had sex the night before.

Mixing sex with alcohol or other drugs increases the chances of unintended pregnancy, and exposure to sexually transmitted infections. This is because if you have sex when you are drunk or high, you are much less likely to be thinking clearly enough to use condoms, or use them correctly.

One study has shown that 60 percent of young adult women who are infected with a sexually transmitted infection report that they were under the influence of alcohol at the time that they had sex with the infected person.

The issue of sexual assault may be one of the most well known dangers involved in mixing alcohol and sex. The most important aspect of this topic to understand is actually a very basic point: NO ONE EVER "ASKS" OR "DESERVES" TO BE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED.

It's actually against the law to have sexual contact with a person who is incapacitated due to the use of drugs, alcohol, or prescription medications. Incapacitated is another way to say "really out of it", as in a situation where someone has passed out, or is just too drunk or high to think clearly. Making the choice to use alcohol or other drugs does not mean that you forfeit the sexual decision-making rights to your body.

So, what can you and your friends do to minimize your risks?

Don't go to parties by yourself if you know that alcohol is going to be served. Make sure one of your friends is designated to stay sober for the night. Whether or not you are driving to where you are going, it's a good idea to make sure that at least one person that you trust will be thinking clearly all night.

If you are going to put your drink down, only leave it with someone you know very well who you can trust to baby-sit for it reliably. Don't ever leave drinks unattended, and don't take drinks from people that you don't know.

If you are going to be partying with your boyfriend or girlfriend, or even just someone you may hook up with, talk about what boundaries feel comfortable for both of you before you start drinking.

If you are uncomfortable doing something when you are sober, your body and mind are probably giving you messages about who is a safe person to share your experiences with, how to best protect your health, and when to make decisions that you are truly ready for. Don't let alcohol or drugs change your mind.

See what happens when your drunk
The Things You Notice When You're Not Drinking
Feb. 21, 2012

By Joanna Buffum

Joanna Buffum is a 23 year old writer based in northern New Jersey, and a former editorial assistant at MTV ...

Read more »

To make my complicated medical history short, within the past year I’ve developed chronic migraines and had to go on a preventive migraine medication, and it’s the type of medicine you can’t mix with alcohol. Of course, drinking makes headaches worse in general so I had been recommended by my doctor to stop drinking anyway.

These are the things I’ve learned after taking off the beer goggles that have been comfortably clouding my vision since I first got wasted off Smirnoff Green Apple Twist freshman year of high school.

Not drinking is the best diet

Since I stopped drinking I’ve lost twenty pounds. Gone are the late night empanadas drowning in tequila and spicy mayonnaise, the stale Papa John’s deliveries in my fridge, the frothy and caloric Yuengling, the dark and sugary Captain and Coke, and the intriguing “Buttery Nipple” shots. Though I’ll admit I’m aided by my migraine medication since it reduces appetite, every morning my body thanks me for refraining from shoveling late night food into my mouth and funneling alcohol into my liver.

Drunk people are ugly

I blatantly stare at the drunk people who stumble into me on the sidewalk and push me out of the way at the bar, eyeing their smeared makeup, ripped tights, sweaty foreheads, splotchy skin, armpit sweat marks, chapped lips, red puffy eyes, spittle, bad posture, wrinkled shirts, lost expressions, and flushed cheeks. Their bad breath wafts into my mouth and nose as they shout nonsensical sentences at my face, along with the stench of their vomit, sweat, and piss. And the whole time they’re thinking they look damn good.

Not drinking equals not wasting all your money

For some reason when I drank I was the friendliest girl at the bar. This meant bonding with random girls in the bathroom about borrowing lip gloss and how much our shoes hurt, and then proceeding to buy a round of shots for everyone and shrugging off their offer to pay and shouting “You’ll get the next one!” and then never seeing them again. Or getting sixty bucks out at the ATM for no reason and realizing I have cash when my friends don’t and giving them money for a cab and shouting, “We’ll figure it out in the morning!” and then not. But when I’m sober the water is free, I’m the one driving, and I remember everything.

No one wants to have sex with the girl drinking water

Men simply avoid talking to women who are drinking water at bars. Apparently drinking water equals unattractive bitch, or possibly anti-fun Debbie Downer, or just she’s-the-designated-driver-therefore-I-can’t-bang-her-tonight-so-why-waste-my-time. In a fun little experiment I played with myself, I ordered a cranberry-seltzer with lime at the bar one night instead of my usual ice water (since cold water helps keep my headaches at bay) and — voila! — I was suddenly infinitely more attractive to every man in the periphery. I had gotten so used to men ignoring me that the deluge of pick-up artists was flustering, especially once I realized I have no sober flirting skills.

Dating is nonexistent for the sober you

See above. Since the 20-something social scene generally revolves around alcohol and the consumption of mind-altering substances, it’s hard for a sober girl to get her footing. Where do most people usually go for first dates? To get a drink. What do new young couples usually order to dissolve some first date jitters? Wine, beer, or a cocktail. When was the last time you kissed someone for the first time sober or had sex with someone for the first time sober? My subconscious reliance on alcohol as a social lubricant has become extremely detrimental to my post-drinking social life. Everything I learned about meeting people and “going out” in high school and college revolved around drinking, and now I have to rewrite the framework for my life while my friends and social circle are still partying within the former

SUNRISE for the new life



The changes are drastic at times when an alcoholic swings from the emotion of love to rage and anger. It can happen so unexpectedly that we find ourselves walking on eggshells. We spend hours trying to ponder why they are acting the way that they are and often let them blame us for their sudden mood swings.

If you are dealing with an narcotic addict on-top of the drinking problem, then you really have your hands full. A friends alcoholic wife is driving him crazy because she mixes the drinking with drugs. When drugs are involved it intensifies the mood swings of the alcoholic tremendously.

These tips will help you protect yourself during the many behavioral mood swings of an alcoholic:

It’s Not Your Fault
First things first, whatever it is that caused them to get set off in anger, you did not cause them to do that. Alcoholics have a way of keeping the people around them anxious and angry. Although they do not realize it themselves, but they are just keeping the focus off of their bad behavior and trying to place the blame on you. This is a good article: Understanding An Alcoholics Behavior.

Set Boundaries
Whenever they swing from a loving, nice mood to a raging alcoholic, protect your emotions by setting boundaries. If they have a tendency to call you names, ask them to not do that anymore. If they continue to belittle you, respond by saying things like: “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “that’s your opinion.” Another good comeback is: “I don’t care to discuss that right now.” The best boundary you can set for yourself is to not respond by arguing with an alcoholic.

Be warned though, as you begin to have more and more self-control around them, they may intensify the badgering even more. Just hold your ground and do not let them cause you to lose your self-control. Make up your mind that no matter what, you will not argue and fight with them.

Unacceptable Behavior is Not Acceptable
You do not have to accept unacceptable behavioral mood swings that are damaging to your emotional, mental or spiritual well-being. You have a choice in every given situation to either be a doormat or get yourself away from the alcoholic. Just go into a different room, leave the house, or do whatever. Just don’t be accepting of bad behavior.

If you must get firm with them do it in a loving manner. Ask them kindly to stop behaving that way. Try to reassure them of your love for them prior to telling them to quit being such a jerk; don’t use those words though. Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean. This article will help you: Reinforcing Boundaries With An Alcoholic

Stay Out of Harm’s Way
Start trying to recognize the situations where these sudden behavioral switches happen. For instance, I used to go out to a restaurant late in the evenings when my spouse would get off of work. It was always “happy hour” and often ended as the fighting hour. I had to learn that the outcome of those times was very unpredictable. So, here’s what I did, I quit going out with my spouse for the late night happy hour special after she got off work. This protected me from putting myself in harm’s way. As a result of my choices, there was and still is a lot more serenity in my life.

Just realize something though, as you begin to interact less with the alcoholic, your company will be replaced. I’m not saying that if you are married they will divorce you, but I am saying that they will find a drinking buddy or a party to attend. In these circumstances do the things that you like to do and enjoy the peace and quiet.

You Do Not Have to Speak to Them on The Phone
You have a right to not discuss things with the alcoholic over the phone when they are having a behavioral mood swing that is filled with getting mad about something. If you decide to get off of the phone, politely tell them that you will be hanging up and say; “goodbye” (this is being kind to an alcoholic). Chances are that they will call repeatedly, you do not have to answer the phone while they are in a rage. Just let them stew and you find something fun to do while they are going ballistic calling you over and over again.

Here’s another thing, you do not have to listen to their ugly messages either. Just delete those suckers. Trust me, this will give you a whole lot less to obsess over.

Learning how to protect yourself from the crazy mood swings that an alcoholic has takes practice and time. Eventually your emotional well-being will no longer be on the roller coaster ride, but instead you will be on a solid and steady course of being self-controlled.

Try to do the best that you can at changing the way you respond to their sudden changes from love to anger. Be kind to yourself when you lose control of your reactions and remember to just start over. Dealing with an active alcoholic is not an easy thing to do. So, go easy on yourself. If this helps at all please understand this, it is possible to love an alcoholic unconditionally without being a doormat.



More than 40% of underage drinkers in the United States get their alcohol free from adults over age 21 and a significant percentage of them get it from their own parents or guardians

According to a nationwide survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 40% of the estimated 10.8 million underage drinkers in the past month got their alcohol free from adults.

The study revealed that 6.4% of those drinkers, ages 12 to 20, were provided free alcohol by their own parents or guardians.

Risking Their Children's Health "In far too many instances, parents directly enable their children's underage drinking — in essence, encouraging them to risk their health and well-being," said Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson, MD, MPH, in a news release. "Proper parental guidance alone may not be the complete solution to this devastating public health problem, but it is a critical part."

The SAMHSA survey asked young people, ages 12 to 20, about the nature and scope of their drinking behavior, and for the first time, asked about the social conditions under which they drink. The survey confirms an earlier study, which found that more than 1/3 of middle school students got their alcohol from their own parents or from a friend's parents or guardians.

"This report provides unprecedented insight in to the social context of this public health problem and shows that it cuts across many different parts of our community," said SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline, PhD. "Its findings strongly indicate that parents and other adults can play an important role in helping influence — for better or for worse — young people's behavior with regard to underage drinking."

More Than Half Have Had a DrinkAccording to the SAMHSA report, these are some of the survey's significant findings:

  • More than half (53.9%) of all people ages 12 to 20 engaged in underage drinking in their lifetime, ranging from 11% of 12-year-olds to 85.5% of 20-year-olds.
  • An average of 3.5 million people (9.4%), ages 12 to 20, meet the diagnostic criteria for having an alcohol-use disorder each year.
  • About one in five people in this age group (7.2 million people) have engaged in binge drinking: consuming five or more drinks on at least one occasion in the past month.
  • The vast majority of current underage drinkers (80.9%) reported being with two or more people the last time they drank. Those who were with two or more people consumed an average of 4.9 drinks on that occasion, compared with 3.1 drinks for those who were with another person and 2.9 drinks for those who were alone.
  • Among youths, ages 12 to 14, the rate of current drinking was higher for females (7.7%) than males (6.3%) — about equal for females and males among those ages 15 to 17 (27.6% and 27.3%, respectively) and lower for females than males among those ages 18 to 20 (47.9% vs. 54.4%).
  • More than half (53.4%) of underage current alcohol users were at someone else's home when they had their last drink, and 30.3% were in their own home; 9.4% were at a restaurant, bar or club.
  • Rates of binge drinking are significantly higher among young people living with a parent who engaged in binge drinking within the past year.
Parents, Be a Positive InfluenceMore than 5,000 deaths a year are attributed to underage drinking in the United States. Parents and guardians of children ages 12 to 20 can have a great influence on their attitudes about drinking and substance abuse in general. As this study shows, that influence can be negative or positive.

The study's findings are being incorporated in to the Underage Drinking Prevention campaign of the Office of the Surgeon General, SAMHSA and the Ad Council. The full report is available online.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "Underage Alcohol Use: Findings from the 2002-2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health." June 2008.

DROWNING in Alcohol

What is an Alcoholic?


Signs to Look For

The most concrete definition of “alcoholic” is someone who suffers alcoholism, and alcoholism is a form of the chronic brain disease of addiction. There is a difference between an alcoholic, someone who abuses alcohol, and a casual drinker. How can you tell when someone’s crossed the line and become an alcoholic?

An alcoholic has a physical compulsion to drink and a mental obsession with alcohol. Even if they want to, an alcoholic will be unable to control their drinking or stop drinking without help.

It can be very difficult to get an alcoholic to admit to their alcoholism, but there are lots of characteristics that are commonly seen. Here is a list of signs that can help you recognize if you or someone you know is an alcoholic.

-Frequently drinking more than intended
-Occasional or frequent blackouts
-Frequently regretting things you did when drunk
-Requiring more alcohol to get drunk (increasing tolerance)
-Drinking alone or in secret
-Feeling the urge to drink (cravings)
-Hiding alcohol in your home, workplace, etc.
-Stopping or losing interest in hobbies
-Missing work or other activities due to drinking
-Neglecting responsibilities due to drinking
-All or most social activities revolving around drinking
-Legal problems related to alcohol (DUI, etc.)
-Work, relationship, or money problems related to alcohol
-Having drinking rituals or routines and being upset when they’re disrupted
-Lying about your drinking habits
-Feeling guilty or ashamed of your drinking habits
-Others being concerned about your drinking (family, friends, coworkers, etc.)
-Needing to drink in order to relax, socialize, or feel good
-Being upset and irritable if you cannot drink

A person does not have to exhibit all of those signs to be considered an alcoholic, and they may show only a few. Generally, the more signs a person shows, the more severe their alcoholism is. An alcoholic may also be very good at hiding signs of their alcoholism. Despite the negative impact drinking might be having in their life, an alcoholic is still unable to stop drinking.

There are also several risk factors that can increase a person’s chance of becoming an alcoholic. Here is a list of risk factors.

-Beginning to drink at a young age
-Family history of alcoholism
-Easy access to alcohol
-Low self-esteem
-Peer pressure

An alcoholic will experience withdrawal symptoms when they are unable to drink. Without alcohol in their system, an alcoholic might feel or experience any of the following signs.

-Shakiness/shaking hands
-Body tremors
-Mood Swings
-Difficulty concentrating
-Heart palpitations

If a person experiences alcohol withdrawal, then they have a serious problem. Severe alcohol withdrawal can also result in life-threatening delirium tremens, which are also known as DTs and result in confusion and hallucinations, and seizures. An alcoholic must be careful when they quit drinking because doing so without proper medical care can result in death.

It’s also important to note that an alcoholic is not a person with bad morals, poor self-control, reckless intentions, or bad judgment. An alcoholic is not irresponsible, stupid, or worthless. An alcoholic is a person with a chronic, debilitating disease that requires physical, mental, and spiritual care and support.

CHAINED to alcohol

What Defines an Alcohol Problem? 


I am a 39-year-old male who is confused as to what determines an alcoholic. I’ve taken a few of the tests available online, answering the questions as honestly as I can, and have been delivered a variety of conclusions.

In a nutshell, I consider myself a social drinker, however, I have a brother who is concerned about me because he is a recovering alcoholic and is convinced that I am in denial. Here are the basic facts: I drink with friends, usually one day out of the week (a weekend day) and oftentimes end up drunk. I can get inebriated rather quickly on wine and with beer, it may take a bit longer. I usually do not indulge in hard alcohols (unless it involves an occasional green apple martini!). I find that once I have eaten, I am no longer interested in drinking… therefore, I tend to put off eating until I’m finished drinking. I’ll drink 2-4 glasses of wine on the day I choose to drink, or perhaps 3-5 beers. I have never been able to drink two consecutive days. I realize that I’m not fond of the taste of alcohol, and drink specifically for the “mind-altering” effects. I’ve been told that this is dangerous, as it is typical of alcoholic behavior. Could you shed some light here for me please? I realize, with alcoholism in the family, I have a much higher need to be worried; however, with the definition as my brother sees it… almost all Italians, and Irish folks could be considered alcoholics. Keep in mind, I’ve never had problems with friends nor has it interfered with my work schedule…

I’m truly clueless in this area.

Thanks for your help!

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A sober house, or halfway house, is an alcohol and drug free living environment for people in recovery. Sober houses provide an environment that is often essential to the recovery of a drug addict or alcoholic. A sober house promotes recovery by requiring residents to attend 12-step meetings, submit to random drug and alcohol screening, and become an active participant in his or her recovery from addiction.

A sober house provides structure for the recovering alcoholic or drug addict. Often, sober houses enforce curfews; require a resident to be involved in school, work, or outpatient treatment; do not allow overnight guests; and have zero tolerance for violence, drugs, and alcohol. The punishment for breaking rules can range from a financial penalty to expulsion from the sober house, depending on the offense. This structure can be essential for long term sobriety.

The benefits of living in a sober house in early recovery can be invaluable. Sober houses provide a safe, drug-free environment for the new in recovery. Living in a sober house with other people in recovery allows you to make friends with the same goals and issues as yourself. Your housemates provide you with support and understanding, which is crucial to success in recovery.

Sober houses also provide accountability. Residents are less likely to end up in situations that may lead to relapse because of the strict enforcement of rules. Many people find that when returning home or to living on their own after inpatient treatment can be very dangerous. It is easy to slip back into behaviors and habits that they practiced while using or drinking. This can be a step down the road to relapse for many addicts and alcoholics. Sober houses provide a nice interim step between inpatient treatment and independent living.

Living in a sober house can help teach a person important life skills that he or she may be lacking. Many recovering addicts and alcoholics must learn or re-learn how to live in order to recovery. Often, the lives of many addicts and alcoholics are completely out of control before they enter drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Sober houses teach addicts and alcoholics to become a functioning member of society. A sober house usually requires a resident to go to bed at a reasonable hour, get up and be active during the day, find gainful employment, and keep the residence clean and in good order. Also, living in close quarters with other people can teach respect, patience, and cooperation. Residents in a sober house also learn how to be financially responsible.

Spending a few months in a sober house can help a recovering alcoholic or drug addict gain the strength they need to re-enter society. Often, when a drug addict or alcoholic gets clean and sober, they have to change many things about themselves in order to maintain their sobriety. This could include changing jobs or eliminating relationships that are toxic.

Ralf Friedrichs



New UCLA study shows that people drink less alcohol as they age -- but drinking among those who were born in earlier years showed a faster decline than among people born more recently.

For instance, people born in 1925 decreased their drinking an average of 11 percent for each decade of aging while those born in 1935 reduced their drinking about 9 percent each decade.

The study, "Longitudinal Patterns and Predictors of Alcohol Consumption in the United States," is published in the March 2005 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

It demonstrates a pattern that health experts had suspected but never proven, Dr. Alison Moore, associate professor of medicine in the geriatrics division of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the study's lead researcher, said.

"We confirmed that with increasing age, people do drink less," she said. "The kicker is that, over time, the earlier group had a faster decline. People who were born more recently reduce their drinking less as compared with people who were born earlier."

Researchers used data from the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 1971-75 (NHANES I) and from follow-ups conducted between 1982 and 1992. NHANES I survey subjects comprised a sample of more than 20,000 non-institutionalized, non-military United States citizens up to age 74. Subjects in the follow-up were in the 25 to 74-year age range.

The study asked the following questions:

  • How does drinking behavior (drinking vs. abstention) change over time?
  • What are the differences in demographic characteristics among people with different longitudinal drinking patterns?
  • How do age, period, and cohort influence alcohol consumption over time?
  • What demographic factors predict level of alcohol consumption and rate of change in alcohol consumption with increasing age?
Some Become Too Ill to DrinkThe researchers found that in general, white, married males with better education and income, and who smoked, tended to drink more than others. But the researchers also noted that the faster age-related decline in alcohol consumption took place among married males with less education, who smoked and were born in earlier years.

There are a number of reasons for the overall age-related decline in drinking, Moore said. For instance, some people simply stop drinking as they age and others become too ill to drink. "Another reason is people cut down because they don't feel as good when they drink, or are told by their doctors or pharmacists not to drink with a particular medication," she said.

Some Drinking Unsafe of Older AdultsOne theory that could explain the disparity in drinking patterns between the earlier and later born groups is that earlier generations tended to drink more. The culture of drinking has changed over time. "My parents had cocktail hour," Moore said. "We don't have that anymore."

But the later-born generation is healthier and more accustomed to better healthcare, so they feel safer in drinking more as they age. "I think people in general are healthier than they used to be," Moore said. "They're drinking for longer periods because they're healthier." However, not all older adults who drink are doing so safely as with increased age, they are more likely to have conditions that could be worsened by alcohol use (such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, depression or insomnia), and to be taking medications that may negatively interact with alcohol (such as most arthritis medications that may cause stomach bleeding with alcohol use).




Living sober means maintaining recovery while making life affirming changes. Addiction destroys our ability to be healthy and productive. A sober recovery diminishes the chances of relapse by using the foundation of the recovery process to continually address problems or successes in self-affirming ways.

Living a sober and clean life has its challenges, but it can be done. It took a great deal of effort and financial support to maintain an active alcoholism and drug addiction. The tools and the support provided in both alcohol and drug rehabs, as well as utilizing the 12 Step programs, help those addicted to drugs and alcohol learn to live sober and remain in recovery.

The right aftercare addiction treatment program is crucial to maintaining abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Living a sober life means staying clean and sober. If you have questions about living sober and clean, call 800-993-3869 Recovery Connection's 24 hours a day, 7 days a week helpline. All calls are confidential.

How to live Sober?

There are people who go through alcohol and drug rehabilitation and stop using substances. However, they do not choose to integrate the concept of self-reflection and continued personal and spiritual growth. Oftentimes, this pattern of behavior can lead people to replace one addiction for another, such as replacing drinking with gambling, or drugging with workaholism.

This behavior can lead to a relapse or a life filled with pain caused by a new addiction. A sober recovery is one in which an addict or alcoholic seeks to live without self-destructive behaviors. Sober living, by its name implies that problems are addressed and handled immediately without the drama, extreme emotions, or self-destructive behaviors that accompanied drug and alcohol use.

The following are some components of a sober recovery:

  • Being honest
  • Sharing emotions
  • Using a support system to address problems
  • Avoiding isolation
  • Going to therapy when needed
  • Maintaining healthy relationships
  • Engaging in self-affirming behaviors
  • Healthy exercise regimes
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Attending 12 Step meetings
  • Attending to spiritual needs
  • Stress relieving therapies

Balance is the key to a sober recovery.

What is the Role of a Sober Recovery House?

Sober Recovery Houses provide the newly recovering addict and alcoholic with the safety of learning to face the challenges of daily living without the increased pressure of dealing with friends and family, some of whom may or may not be supportive of the process. A quality sober living home will allow the addict and alcoholic time to develop his/her coping skills. After some sober time, the recovering person can return home feeling stronger and more confident.

The main goal of a recovery house is to provide residents with a safe and supportive environment in which to practice sobriety. A sober recovery house is a solution for those early in addiction treatment who require continued structure in their life as they re-integrate into their daily activities. Living with others who are focused on sobriety and recovery can help create a firm foundation before returning home to the challenges of daily living.

Recovery houses may require residents to participate in programs and activities including house meetings, support groups, and household chores. Residents must also abide by a specific set of rules administered by the halfway house staff. Rules are unique to each individual house but usually include abstaining from drug or alcohol use, not engaging in violent behavior, and attending active self-help or group meetings. Residents are given the opportunities and the resources needed to pursue employment, take care of issues with social services or legal problems, and search for future housing.

Living Sober After Rehab

Once drugs and alcohol are removed from the process of living, a person may be faced with the damage caused by drugs and alcohol. Putting down the drink or drug does not remove the financial problems or the legal problems created during active addiction.

There are problems, challenges, losses, and successes that will confront all recovering addicts and alcoholics. Taking the tools and strategies learned in substance abuse treatment will give the addict the confidence to continue to maintain sobriety. Sober living is far more rewarding then a recovery filled with relapses, new addictions, and disappointment caused by unaddressed issues.

Living sober is not an easy thing to do.  I was addicted to alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy, and every other drug you could think of and every day I have to work at maintaining my sobriety and living a sober life.  Drug Dependence is a disease that never goes away.  I will never be able to drink alcohol normally or use drugs “recreationally” again.  Every day I have to pray, remind myself that I am an addict and an alcoholic by going to meetings, and pray some more.  I have to write in a journal every night, make amends to people quickly when I have wronged them, and talk to a sponsor. At National Therapeutic Services we help teach clients how to live the rest of their lives sober, one day at a time.  

Sober Living is dedicated to the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. We provide information and treatment resources for this and all different types of addictions.

Sober Living was created to fill an important community need, that of providing prompt information to individuals needing assistance in finding the right treatment center. Referrals to Treatment Centers are offered at NO CHARGE as a community service.


If you are a recovering alcoholic, you may have experienced feelings of social anxiety at some point.  For example, perhaps you wanted to ask someone new on a date but put it off because you weren’t sure where to go that wouldn’t have the expectation of drinking alcohol, or you were worried that they might wonder why you weren’t drinking at a club and lose interest in you.  You may also fear rejection once they find out that alcoholism is in your past because of lingering stigmas about addicts and addiction (Read How Americans Perceive Addicts and Addiction to see how many people’s attitudes are changing for the better). Or maybe you went to an all-expenses-paid business dinner and a co-worker tried to insist that you order a drink because the evening was “on the company.”  Recovering from alcoholism can be extremely difficult because, more than any other addictive substance, alcohol has been integrated into numerous – and often unavoidable – social activities.  But if you find yourself in this situation, don’t despair!  There are a number of ways to help you cope with the social anxieties you might feel when recovering from alcoholism

  • Understand Alcoholism
  • Before you enter a social situation where alcohol will be present, you will likely feel more comfortable if you are able to answer questions about alcoholism and help others understand what you are going through.  Any negative attitudes that you will encounter are very often the result of misinformation (Read Setting the Record Straight: Addiction Myths and Addiction and Genetics).  If you are able to counter negative comments with well-informed facts, you will likely feel more comfortable in the situation, even if at the end of the conversation you and the other person agree to disagree.

    • Incorporate Humor

    Nothing is more uncomfortable than an awkward silence.  Although it can be extremely difficult to be spontaneously funny, humor can help to lighten an uncomfortable situation.  For example, if someone you are with comments, “Gosh, you never seem to drink!” you could retort, “Ahh…. well, actually, I drink a bit too much! I thought I might sit out for a few years and give you a chance to catch up.”



  • Be Conscious of Your Attitude – and Be Positive
  • People will like you because of your personality, your loyalty, and the other positive qualities you possess.  Take some time to evaluate your attitude and behavior in general terms.  Remember that if you express genuine interest in other people and show them respect, they will be more willing to return that respect once they get to know you, and they will like you for who you are – including your past.  People also enjoy being around people who make them feel good; if you are constantly depressed, often make negative comments, or only talk about yourself, others might not find the interaction pleasant.

    • Build Your Self- confidence

    Because recovery from any addiction forces you to reevaluate your priorities, your friends, your behaviors, and every other area of your life, you may feel vulnerable and may lack self-confidence, especially during the early stages of recovery.  Reflect on your past accomplishments – including your mature and responsible decision to get treatment for alcoholism – and take pride in the person you have become.  Then approach all social interactions with this solid sense of identity.

    Addiction free today

    Sober Community




    Having a support community is essential for successful recovery. We provide numerous forums and opportunities for our clients and alumni to build and maintain healthy support communities and relationships. We have a large network of Alumni and Volunteers that work with our clients so they can begin to build healthy prosperous relationships with recovering individuals while they are still in treatment. We also provide an on-site Al-anon meeting to provide support to the family members and loved ones of those receiving treatment. It is important that family members get the help they need because recovery is a lifestyle and the more informed you are the easier the transition will be on everyone involved.


    Helpful articles relating to the importance of sober communities:

     1. “I can’t stay sober, but we can” – a slogan commonly heard in 12-step meetings and treatment centers around the globe.  A statement filled with camaraderie and unity, this slogan underlies the importance of community in both early as well as long term sobriety. One of the key components of early recovery is developing a sense of community and in turn learning to ask for help.  However, this is sometimes easier said than done.  Most alcoholics and addicts have tried countless times to kick the habit by themselves – white knuckling it alone with no support and no structure.  More often than not, relapse is the end result. Click here to read more about sober support networks and the importance it plays in recovery.


    2. One overarching question exists for LGBTQIs facing addiction: “Where and how do I socialize after I get sober?” For most gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in their 20’s and 30’s, their social lives often are centered in and around bars. There is no doubt that the prevalence of alcohol and drugs in the LGBTQI Communities is rampant for all age groups.  Several studies have shown the extent of alcohol and drug use in the Community.  Higher drug and alcohol use occurs in the UK, Australia, Ireland and in the US.

    Sobriety Checkpoints

    The Holidays: Challenges and Survival Guide for Sober Alcoholic


    The holidays can be a triggering and challenging time for sober alcoholics, particularly for those in early sobriety. But why? There are a variety of reasons and this time of year can prove to be emotionally charged even for non-alcoholics. The holidays can be bittersweet, in that while they may bring joy and celebration, they can also be like putting "Miracle Grow" on family dysfunction and unhealthy dynamics. Therefore, if drinking alcohol was the way in which an alcoholic coped emotionally with holidays in past years- it can be a difficult transition when they get sober.

    For sober alcoholics who come from active alcoholic families, this time of year is generally rampant with heavy drinking that they may have been able to avoid the rest of the year. A sober family member can unintentionally hold a mirror up to their alcoholic family members and this can inevitably cause tension. The high-functioning alcoholic (HFA) in particular is able to keep many aspects of life intact. Therefore, relatives may not have realized the severity of his or her alcoholism and may minimize the problem or not understand why the HFAs need to be sober. Sober HFAs may be dodging drinks or surrounded by family members drinking socially or alcoholically and this inevitably can be a challenging dynamic to navigate.
    The holidays are a time of socializing, work parties, excessive amounts of food, celebration and inevitably drinking. Being sober can often lead these individuals to feel left out or it may be a painful reminder them of the good ole' days. Throughout the rest of the year they may be surrounded socially by a sober community or are able to set limits and boundaries around how much time they spend in drinking situations, they may not be able to avoid these environments during this time of year.

    Many people compare their lives and families to others and to the depictions that they see in the media of the "perfect family". For those who are single, divorced, or having family problems, the holiday season holds a magnifying glass up to these situations, leading many to reflect negatively on their life. As I sit here writing this blog a TV commercial came on stating that "This season is a time of celebration, family, good food..."- this images are powerful and they are everywhere. Therefore, it is important to counter these false images of perfection and remember that every family has issues and to have some acceptance of family flaws. Alcohol may have filled this emotional void for alcoholics and now that they are sober and alcohol has been removed from the equation it may lead them to feel vulnerable, raw and sensitive. It is important to note that there is a higher chance of relapse during the holidays and sober alcoholics and their loved ones should be mindful of this.
    In addition to family holiday events, work and social holiday parties are a constant reminder to the sober alcoholic that they have to live and socialize in a different manner than those who can drink in safety. There are holiday functions that require attendance and it is important to have strategies in place that can help to prevent relapse and to minimize triggers. Here is a holiday "survival guide" for the sober alcoholic:
    • Have an escape plan by bringing your own vehicle or figure out the available public transportation near   the holiday event that will enable you to leave if you are feeling tempted to drink or uncomfortable.
    • Ask another sober alcoholic to be "on call" for you to check in with during the event for additional support.
    • Let someone whom you trust at the holiday event know that you may need additional support during this occasion or time of year.
    • Find a tasty non-alcoholic beverage you can drink that will give you something to hold and may prevent people from offering you an alcoholic drink.
    • Come up with a standard response as to why you are not drinking that may vary depending on the type of holiday event and if you want those in attendance to know you are sober: "I don't drink anymore", "I am not drinking tonight", "I am on medication and cannot have alcohol", "I am the designated driver tonight," etc.
    • Be choosy about the holiday events that you attend and avoid "people pleasing" by saying "yes" to events that you don't need to nor don't want to be at.
    • Take care of yourself prior to these events: get enough sleep, eat regularly, exercise, relax, etc.
    • Find new holiday activities and traditions that you may never have tried in the past which do not involve drinking alcohol (volunteer at a soup kitchen, go ice skating, have a sober get-together and gift exchange, see a movie, take a trip, etc.)
    • Remember to create structure for yourself if you have time off (volunteer, exercise, make plans, got to mutual-help group meetings, therapy, etc.).
    • Work extra hours if needed in order to distract yourself.
    • Learn to say "no" if you do not want to attend an event.
    • Put your sobriety first and realize that others may not understand what this entails, but that it is your number one priority.
    • "Just say no" to rum cake!
    • Attend extra mutual-help group meetings during this season (ie, A.A. has "alcathons" that involve 24 hours of meetings, food, socializing at designated locations on Thanksgiving Eve, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  Contact your local A.A. Intergroup for more information: http://www.aa.org/lang/en/meeting_finder.cfm?origpage=29)
    • Be honest with loved ones if you are having a hard time and let them know how to support you.
    • Remember that "this too shall pass" and there is life after the holidays.
    • No matter how you are feeling, just don't drink!


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