“I stopped drinking in August 2010. I wasn’t addicted to alcohol, but I got into trouble from time to time when I drank, so I decided to kick him in the head.
As I stopped drinking, I began to realize that Irish social life is so intertwined with alcohol that it is very difficult to tell one from the other. It’s part of every event we go to, from weddings to christenings to funerals. We drink when we meet friends; We drink when we meet with colleagues.
We need to socialize as people, but unfortunately socializing in Ireland is so intertwined with drinking – and the excessive drinking that has such negative effects. In that sense, it’s easy to feel socially marginalized when you stop drinking. i know i did it
I was very disillusioned with the Irish social scene and there was a time when I wished I could just go and live in another country. Back then there was an alcohol and drug free nightclub in Dublin called The Funky Seomra that I went to a lot, but other than that it seemed to be all about alcohol.
So in 2011 I decided to start Sober Slice, a meeting group that organizes non-alcoholic events and offers an alternative to the current social scene in Ireland.
The group now has nearly 10,000 members and many of the events would be slightly left of center – think yoga, meditation and chanting.
The Sober Slice community is made up of people in their 20s and 30s through to people in their 70s and 80s. However, the average age is late 30s, early 40s.
Many of our members are single and are trying to meet people outside of a pub environment. Some of our members are foreigners. They come from cultures that have alcohol but not as extensively as Ireland. They might see the Irish drinking scene as a bit chaotic and are looking for something a little more civilized and meaningful.
Some of our members have addiction problems and are often in a very vulnerable position. Their entire social life may have been surrounded by people who abused drugs and drank heavily, and they may find it difficult to reintegrate into normal society.
Our older members may be widows or retirees who are in a different phase of life. They don’t want to go to a crowded pub on a Saturday night and like to just come for a walk at the weekend.
Back then, Sober Slice was a lifesaver for me. I was with like-minded people and people from all over the world with different views and opinions.
Some people who quit drinking are still perfectly happy socializing like they used to, only without the alcohol. But I knew it wasn’t for me.
I still went to the pub on a Sunday afternoon, had a couple of cokes and watched a game, but I rarely went out for six or seven hours on a Saturday night. Also, it’s just not comfortable for someone who’s sober to go to a crowded nightclub where everyone’s getting pounded and you can’t hear a word from anyone.
It would be different if you were in another continental European city where people don’t go out for more than three or four hours and stay relatively sober apart from a few glasses of wine. But nights in Ireland are so long.
I would have felt very comfortable in group situations back then. With 100 people in a group I would have been in my element. But there was a time in the years after I quit drinking when that was my worst nightmare. I felt much more comfortable meeting people one-on-one for a cup of tea.
Giving up alcohol changed my social life and outlook on life. So I had to reinvent myself somehow. You are changing and you need to realize who this new person is in a way. And yet you are still the same person that you were. It’s funny.
Many people who knew me before said they noticed a big difference in me. Some people thought it was a positive thing, and other people didn’t necessarily think it was a positive thing.
I guess I got a little more serious about life, a little more introspective. There was almost the me when I was drinking and the me when I stopped drinking. They merged over time, but eventually they were two completely different people.
And that can be very challenging because all of a sudden you’re this new person and people are like, ‘What happened to the old guy? The old guy was a little crazy. Who is this new person?’
To be honest, the stuff I thought was funny, say, five years ago, just didn’t seem funny anymore. And I’m not one of those people who can just turn it on. I personally know that I took things too seriously and then over time I found my sense of humor which is important.
At the same time, humor is so closely linked to alcohol, especially for young men in Ireland. When you have a group of young men in their late 20s, a large part of their socializing is either sharing stories about when they last had a drink or what someone did when they were drunk. So when you detach from it, a large part of you goes with it.
I guess I was trying to find my place and place in the group again as a different person. And that took a long time. Alcohol was a big part of my life and identity, so I almost had to turn it off and start over.
I think it becomes a much bigger problem if you live in a smaller town and don’t have a lot of outlets. When people in rural Ireland stop drinking, they think, “How on earth am I supposed to socialize?”
Saying that makes it a little bit easier. When I stopped drinking there were very few outlets or even drinks for people who didn’t want to drink.
Now there are loads of soft drinks on the market that can be a great stepping stone for people. You can down three pints and three soft drinks in one evening and still feel relatively fresh the next day.
But that wouldn’t have worked for me. My personality is all or nothing so after I edited it out I knew I wasn’t going back. And I suppose the people who engage in sobriety for a few months are unlikely to experience the profound changes that occur when you give it up completely. In my opinion, to really experience this whole change and to leave the old identity behind, you have to get off completely.
It’s a journey, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. You feel better mentally and physically when you stop drinking. You wake up on a Saturday morning with the whole weekend ahead of you feeling fresh and full of energy. Your general well-being is significantly better and you simply have more momentum overall.”
Learn more about Sober Slice at meetup.com/soberslice/
As Katie Byrne was told
https://www.independent.ie/life/giving-up-alcohol-changed-my-social-life-and-my-outlook-on-life-so-i-kind-of-had-to-reinvent-myself-41867070.html “Quitting alcohol has changed my social life and outlook on life. So I had to reinvent myself somehow