Each month I create a Twitter List for that life experiment’s topic and I follow as many people as I can. It helps me to stay current on the topic and to learn as much as I can in a fairly short period of time. One thing I noticed during this month was that there are VERY FEW resources out there to help people stay sober as compared to topics like environmentalism or random acts of kindness. Perhaps promoting sobriety just isn’t a lucrative venture so not many people do it. There are a couple of popular resources for drug addicts on Twitter but I could hardly find anything besides Alcoholics Anonymous for boozing. Although, following Alcoholics Anonymous is a bit ironic because it’s no longer anonymous once you start following them on Twitter, it kind of defeats the purpose.
I was able to find roughly ZERO resources for sober living in Boston which was really too bad considering it’s filled with a few hundred thousand students under 21. There should definitely be more online resources promoting things that aren’t drinking. LivingSocial and Groupon do a good job at offering fun things to do in the city but there’s no resource explicitly devoted to sobriety as there are with the other experiments I’ve done: environmental, conversation, random acts of kindness, vegetarianism, etc.
With that being said, here are a few things that I learned throughout the month about being sober in Boston. I distilled them down into 7 tips that helped me stay sober for 30 days in an urban setting. It is by no means a comprehensive list and nor will it work for everyone, but here it is nonetheless.
- Go on a weekend adventure. For me, my heaviest periods of drinking are certainly on the weekends. I find that getting out of the city for the weekend has drastically reduced my exposure to alcohol. So weekend adventures really helped me avoid scenarios that are typically synonymous with alcohol consumption: bars, restaurants, boredom, etc.
- Find out what your “anti-drunk” is. Find an activity that helps you to replace and avoid drinking. My anti-drunk throughout college was the Tufts Mountain Club. I spent many weekends exercising and/or just hanging out at the Loj in New Hampshire that otherwise would have been filled with binging weekends in Boston. After graduation I’ve started to realize how awesome that resource actually was. I’ve continued to use the Loj as a basecamp to avoid partying too hard in Boston. There’s certainly a time and a place for partying hard but spending every weekend in the city would be just too much for my liver (and my wallet). Hiking trips work for me, find something that works for you.
- Avoid the “Just Because” beer. I often fall into the habit of drinking beer just because: “Just got home from work, I’ll have a beer.” “Cooking dinner, might as well have a beer.” “Watching the bruins game, I should go get a beer.” “I’m doing laundry, time for beer.” and the list goes on. This was probably a more difficult habit to break than drinking at the bar or at parties. I’ve gotten into such a habit of the “just because” beer, I mean why not right? The reality is that avoiding these “just because” beers has saved me a bunch of money and calories both add up although saving $ is more important to me than adding pounds to my figure.
- Upcycle your alcohol habit. I had been keeping a few liquor bottles around for no particular reason so I decided that I’d upcycle them to hold bamboo plants. There was something about acknowledging my affinity for liquor and turning it into something green that was particularly satisfying. Owning up to how much you’re drinking is key to moving past it to a more tolerable or regulated habit, doing something positive about it (even though small) is even better.
- Drink out of red solo cups at parties. All people really notice at parties is if you’re drinking or not drinking. I found myself fairly uncomfortable not drinking It wasn’t so much because I wasn’t drinking booze that I felt uncomfortable, it was because I’ve become so accustomed to holding a drink in my hand while having fun. I felt weird having both hands free. However, I found that no one knew and no one cared what I was drinking or how much of it I was drinking. Therefore, the red solo cup kept my hands busy while helping me to assimilate into the drinking culture without actually drinking alcohol. I had just as much fun without the alcohol (and had significantly better morning-afters).
- Avoid keeping beer in the beer fridge. Perhaps having a beer fridge in the first place is a poor step in the direction of curbing a drinking habit. We have a beer fridge and it was pretty much empty the entire month. Not having access to beer in my apartment certainly helped to avoid the desire to drink one. I do the same thing with food, if it’s there I’ll eat it. Same with quantities of food, if it’s there I’ll eat it. The same idea translates to beer for me, “It’s there, why not.” So by not resupplying the beer fridge each week I was able to easily follow Tip #3: Avoid the “Just Because” Beer.
- Don’t drink non-alcoholic beer. It’s just not worth it, don’t do it.
I definitely think my sober month has changed my perspective on partying and having a good time. I still like beer and whiskey but from now on I don’t think I’ll feel weird about not drinking at a bar, party, restaurant, hockey game etc. I highly recommend trying a sober month, I saved a bunch of money, lost a few pounds, and generally just feel fantastic, there’s not too many down sides.
Here is that Twitter List I was talking about. It’s a compilation of Twitter users related to sobriety, some are pretty helpful and others are pretty useless. Check it out and join the conversation: