A common question asked by alcoholics when they enter rehab is “Can I ever go back to drinking moderately again?” Whilst there are varying opinions on the matter, the general consensus is no. For those who have become addicted to a substance, there is very little chance of them ever being able to take it back up on a casual basis.


Why can’t an alcoholic ever drink again?

Some people feel that it is unfair to expect an addict to steer clear of alcohol for the rest of their lives after rehab, and that if the addiction is dealt with correctly then they should be able to enjoy one or two drinks from time to time. Unfortunately it is simply not possible for an alcoholic. Whilst moderate drinkers are able to have a couple of drinks and then stop, the mindset of an alcoholic coupled with the psychological and physiological effects of alcohol will make it far more difficult for them to stop once they have started, and this can trigger a relapse.

A relapse doesn’t necessarily happen overnight, and alcoholics can sometimes convince themselves that they are drinking moderately and don’t have a problem, but as their original addiction would itself have took time to develop, it is likely that any pattern of drinking they now engage in will similarly escalate to addiction.


In what ways do other people make it hard not to drink in social settings?

Alcohol is a socially accepted substance, despite having negative effects for so many. So acceptable is it, that those who don’t drink often find themselves the focus of unwanted attention at parties and on nights out with those who do drink. Some of the things that you might face when explaining that you’re a non drinker include:

Being asked excessive questions about why you don’t drink

Being coerced into drinking ‘just a little bit’ or a ‘sip’

Being confronted or insulted about choosing not to drink

Being blamed for any lack of atmosphere, or looking bored


And in the longer term, people who are newly sober may find that:


Certain friendships deteriorate once the other party can’t go drinking with you anymore

People pressure you to drink or make pointed comments about your choice to remain sober

You are slowly pushed out of your social circle, as drinkers would rather spend time with other drinkers


How can you avoid drinking?

When you are fresh out of recovery, the best thing to do to avoid drinking is simply not to put yourself in a position where you might be tempted or expected to drink. For most, this means avoiding pubs, clubs and bars but it could also mean temporarily avoiding evening activities altogether.

Once you have built a solid friendship group who are not reliant on alcohol then you can start to branch out and enjoy activities such as the theatre, cinema, bowling or dancing in the evenings. If you are with people who have priorities other than alcohol, then the presence of alcohol at these venues shouldn’t be too hard to cope with.

That said, the likelihood is that you will eventually have to be seen at a social situation where alcohol is unavoidable, such as a wedding, birthday or important dinner. In this case, the best thing to do is to follow these steps.


Make plans which require you not to drink

Offer to be the designated driver for your group, or make plans for the next day that require you to stay sober, such as a sporting event. It is much more difficult for people to argue with something that requires you not to have a drink, and it can take your mind off of temptation as well.


Don’t offer up the fact that you are not drinking

For the most part, at events, people are far more focused on their own night than what you are doing, so if you don’t volunteer that you are sober they might not even notice. A glass of lemonade could just as easily be a mixed drink, and cranberry juice could pass for wine if served in a wine glass. Unless someone asks you directly, there is no need to tell them.


Bring your own drinks

One of the difficult things when going to parties and events is that often sober people aren’t well catered for. Instead of miserably trying to work your way through cheap soft drinks all night, bring a drink that you really enjoy, and stash it somewhere out of sight when you arrive. This way you can avoid questions and enjoy your beverages all night.



At events where there is a lot of alcohol, people that are drinking can often pass by the food without giving it too much attention. As a sober person, this is where you can really take advantage of not drinking! You can enjoy eating and socialising just as much as you might enjoy drinking, and without the empty calories from alcohol you can eat as much as you like – guilt free.


Focus on conversation

It is far too common that people go to events with their focus on drinking and getting drunk, but the very point of a social event is to socialise. Take pleasure in the conversations that you are having, pay attention and ask lots of questions and this should easily take your mind off of alcohol. As a bonus, the more engaged you are, the better people will enjoy your company, meaning that they are less likely to pick on you for not drinking.


Take the first step

Before you can think about how you are going to cope with alcohol after your recovery, you need to take those first steps towards recovery. Call Ocean Recovery Centre on 01253 847 553, or text HELP to 83222 to talk to someone about the addiction problems you are having and work out the best way to refer to our services.

We offer a comfortable and dedicated residential rehab service which helps you fight your addiction through detox, therapy and wellbeing sessions, which help you to build all of the skills you need to get over your addiction and stay sober in the future. We even offer an aftercare programme which allows you to stay in touch with professionals and get help in the tough early days after you leave rehab.


John Gillen - Author - Last updated: December 14, 2021

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.