Beating Peer Pressure to Stop Drinking and Stay Sober

Woman in crowd with red nose- Beating peer pressure to stop drinking and stay sober

Remember being a child, getting caught being naughty by your teacher, and when she asked WHY did you do it… you responded with, He started it first! And maybe he did? Maybe you succumbed to peer pressure and did something you knew you shouldn’t, hoping you wouldn’t get caught. Most of us succumbed to peer pressure when we were children, teenagers, young adults…  but now that I’ve lived through my 40’s and into my mid life… well, when does peer pressure stop? Happy hour? Wine o’clock? Girls night out? Drink – drunk- regret … have another! Just learn to moderate! Does the cocktail hour peer pressure ever stop?

Flock of sheep- peer pressure to drink

Drinking with the flock was a part of my work routine that social distancing has made it easier to walk away from. On a positive side to this lockdown, it has changed my professional travel life –

I was a “road warrior”.  I knew the best hotels to stay at (translation-  free drinks at check-in, or walking distance from a bar), the benefits of flying first class (because who doesn’t want a Bloody Mary at 8 am?), and that the airline club was always a great place to get a quick glass of wine between flights. When I hopped off the drinking carousel last October, my viewpoint of my travel choices started to change….  I still choose a hotel within walking distance of restaurants, but not for the booze –  for the exercise.  I don’t really care if I get first-class seating anymore, and as I look at the airline club –  well, the other great benefit of them is clean bathrooms – the food is nothing to write home about. My son visited once with me, and he called it, a soup kitchen with an open bar.  🙂 

When I first quit drinking 5 years ago, some of my work friends liked the idea, because then I became their designated driver-  I was fine with that!  

Designated driver

When I really committed to staying sober though, some of my long term friends balked at the idea of losing their drinking partner. Who would think there would still be peer pressure for women in their 50s?

One of my friends of 20 years was once my drinking buddy.  Back in 2008, I told him that I had quit drinking and my excuse was that I needed to lose weight. He retorted back that it was great for me to not drink at home, but I’d have to break my sober pledge and drink with him so that we could talk about life’s problems at our next work meeting (translation:  drink but only with me …. our friendship depends on it ?) – Yes, I failed at the moderate drinking attempt and returned to the merry go round of drink, drunk, regret.  Last winter, when we met at another sales conference, I didn’t tell him that I had stopped drinking again, so we never had the conversation where I could self-sabotage my efforts.  Truth be told, he never noticed that my drink of choice was “club soda with a lime”, and not a vodka tonic.  Most of my peers didn’t notice, either.

Alone in the crowd- the peer pressure was really in my head

I realized that the “peer pressure” was really in my head.  

Lone sheep

Yes, people have noticed that I’ve lost weight since I stopped drinking.  “What’s your secret?”  First, I realize that if they aren’t truly my friend, I don’t owe them a full answer.  Going low-carb, is a truthful answer, but it’s not the complete reason.  For those that I’m closer to, I tell them that I kicked the can.  

So what responses do I get back? They vary from,

Good for you! You look so much better!


You look good.  I’ve gotta cut back too


Well, that’s not gonna happen!  I got to have my wine.

When questioned or challenged, the me of 12 years ago was ready to toss in the towel and crack open the beer. The me of 8 years ago was eager to set up the rules to moderate my drinking. The me of 5 years ago was spending energy trying to re-write the moderation rules. The me of today knows better.  I know that moderate drinking does not work for me. I know that “just one” doesn’t end at “one”.  “One and Done” is often said to friends in the bar, but is just an invitation to join the crowd – under the condition of course – that you drink.  

I know I won’t have “one”.   I was getting my sea legs underneath me before this pandemic started, but as it goes longer, I am fortunate to have the time to get even stronger in my sobriety.

There is NO SHAME in being Sober! I am finally beyond the peer pressure. I am now proud.  

Related Reading :

Shame, Alcohol and Sobriety

Ditching the Shame When You Go Sober

How Do You Tell People You Are Not Drinking?

If you’re “sober curious” … If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break…or if you have stopped drinking and are trying to stick to sober! Talk to Us. 

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