Staying Sober In a Drunk World

Oct 27 / Jon Connolly
Empty space, drag to resize
Working in the hospitality sector, especially in bars and restaurants, can be a fantastic and fun experience. But for those who are trying to stay sober or reduce their alcohol and drug intake, it can be tough. With so much temptation around, drinking and drugging is almost part of the worker culture. It can be overwhelming and difficult to keep the life you know without the demons that come along with it. This blog post is here to help you understand the difficulties you might face and provide tips on how to navigate them while maintaining your sobriety, or at least maintain a level of intake that works for you.

The Challenges

Social Pressure:

In the hospitality industry, alcohol often flows freely, along with alot of other things. You may feel pressure from coworkers or even customers to join in. You may even feel the pressure even if they haven't said anything to you. It can be tough to say no, especially when you don't want to seem boring or be left out of the fun.


They teach that to reduce your drinking and drugging you need to take yourself out of the environments and places where temptation is at its highest. For us in the industry, that is not possible. Living and working with temptation everywhere around you at all times needs some serious will power. Unfortunately that only comes from 1, but you can use mechanisms to help. Being surrounded by alcohol and sometimes drugs can be tempting, and it's easy to give in to the temptation, especially if you're stressed or trying to fit in.

Dealing with FOMO:

Often played down or made seem like a joke "the fear of missing out" (FOMO) can be a real thing, and a powerful motivator to drink and drug. No-one wants to be left out, staying in on there own when everyone around you is out and having a good time. The hard truth is that it's essential to find ways to enjoy yourself without substances. 
Empty space, drag to resize

Ways to Start and Tips on Cutting Down. (Most of which you already know)

It's the same stuff you have heard all before, the same "tips and tricks" but there is a reason for that. It works, you just have to be willing to give it a real go.

Set Clear Goals:

Begin by setting clear, realistic goals for yourself. Do not try to do it all at once, as they say, take 1 day at a time. Whether it's reducing your alcohol and drug intake or quitting altogether, having a plan is essential. 

Seek Support:

Don't be afraid to talk to your coworkers or supervisors about your goals. Many hospitality industry workplaces are supportive, and they may be able to help you. Additionally, consider joining a support group or seeking professional help. You would also be surprised the amount of co-workers that probably feel the same way you do. 

Create Boundaries:

Set clear boundaries for yourself. Decide what you're comfortable with and what's off-limits. For example, you might allow yourself to have a non-alcoholic drink or two, but avoid any alcoholic beverages. You might even try just drinking beer with no spirits for 1 night. start with what your realistically think you can manage and you can build on it from there. Do what is comfortable for you. 

Stay Busy:

Keep yourself occupied during work and downtime. Idle hands are more likely to reach for a drink or drugs. Engage in tasks, hobbies, or even offer to take on extra responsibilities at work. One thing to remember is HALT, you are more likely to give up and drink and drug when you feel HUNGRY, ANGRY, LONELY or TIRED. Get a plan, get a hobby, try to stay busy, keep a diary, anything to occupy the mind. 
Empty space, drag to resize

If you want, hide the fact you're not partaking....

There is NOTHING wrong with hiding the fact you do not want to drink or drug. This can be a nice way of testing yourself and not putting yourself out there. It can relieve some of the pressure from colleagues and from your own mind. 

Choose Non-Alcoholic Alternatives:

If you're worried about people noticing you're not drinking, opt for non-alcoholic alternatives like virgin cocktails or soda with a splash of fruit juice. Ask for a zero alcohol larger in a normal glass. These drinks look similar to their alcoholic counterparts. A tonic water with ice and lime looks exactly like a gin and tonic.

Use a Discreet Cup:

Pour your non-alcoholic drink into a regular glass or cup. This way, it won't stand out, and people may not notice that you're not consuming alcohol.  

Be Confident:

If someone offers you a drink, politely decline and be confident in your decision. You don't owe anyone an explanation, but you can simply say you're choosing not to drink tonight. Do not let anyone take your power, make a choice, believe in yourself. No-one will have your own best interest at heart other than yourself.
Empty space, drag to resize

Ways to Keep Occupied and Not Feel Like You're Missing Out.

As we touched on earlier, keeping busy is KEY. I can not emphasise the importance of keeping your mind busy and body active.

Participate in Activities:

Join in on the fun without substances. Dance, chat with coworkers, or engage in games or other activities to keep yourself entertained. If you have admin work to do, try do more, if you feel the craving, immediately go do something, stock a shelf, take to a family table, get some air, have a smoke break.

Connect with Like-minded People:

Unfortunately cutting down or giving up drink and drugs does mean that you wont be spending as much time with those you used to, especially at the start when you are only getting used to your new way of living. Giving them a break or keeping them at a distance , even just for a while until you are stronger in yourself is a really good idea, but it is also extremely hard.  Try seek out coworkers or friends who also choose not to drink or use substances. Spending time with people who support your decision can be incredibly helpful.

Focus on the Positives:

Health, wealth and happiness! It really is that simple, if you want these things you need to keep them at the front of your mind and at the forefront of every decision you make. Remember why you've chosen to reduce or quit. Whether it's for your health, personal growth, or another reason, focus on the positive aspects of your decision. Keep a diary of how you feeling everyday and the differences in your life, then read it back and you will be reminded of the progress and how far you really have come.
Empty space, drag to resize

The Grass is always Greener...

As the saying goes, " the grass is always greener on the other side", meaning we tend to look back and remember the good times and not the bad when reducing or giving up drink and drugs. You need to remember the hangovers, the amount of wasteless money spent, the things you regret, the embarrassing things you did, what it has done to your body, your relationships, your life. Use these as motivators. and always ask yourself, are you the person you want to be? Are you your best self?

Make a plan, stick with it, prove all those who want to see you fail that you can succeed, change people's perception of you.  Start today, not Monday ,not tomorrow, start with the next time and become happier, healthier and the person you always wanted to be.
Empty space, drag to resize

Illinois Addiction Hotline | 866-210-1303 | 24/7 Support

*This blog post serves as a valuable resource, providing helpful tips and insights. Please note that it does not constitute medical or legal advice.
Created with