Sober in Las Vegas

Recently, my boyfriend and I escaped to Las Vegas for a quick weekend get-away. We needed to see the sun and get our minds off work, kids and life. I will say this as a disclaimer: Vegas is NOT a good idea for anyone in early sobriety. I have over two years of absolute, 100% commitment to living life alcohol-free; sober is NON-NEGOTIABLE for me, and it was still a little overwhelming at times.

In the 48 hours we were there, I “tuned in” and took in the world of excess. What I found while sober in Las Vegas was that by not drinking, I am not missing out on any of the fun, but I am missing out on so much chaos.


On the flight, my boyfriend and I made a bet (I mean, we were on our way to Vegas!): out of the nine people we could see (three in three rows across from us), how many drinks would they all total in the three hour flight. He guessed 10 – thinking just over half of them would have two drinks each. I guessed over 10 easy!

Three people each had zero

three people each had one

and three guys had six each

By the time we landed, the grand total was…. 21.

“I win!” I shouted. 

“How many would you have had?” he asked.

“Probably four,” I honestly replied.

“Four? You would have spent $40 on alcohol on the plane?”

My man likes money, and does not love to drink, so spending money on alcohol seems stupid to him.

“No way. I would have spent less than $5. I would have brought four airplane bottles (99 cents each) on my carry-on, ordered a seltzer water, and dumped two in when the flight attendant wasn’t looking. The other two I would take to the bathroom with me and shoot them in there.”

“Wow…” he said. “Do you miss it?”

I was quiet for a minute. 

Do I miss it? I typically have had some sort of mixed feelings about this question: A ‘no, but…’ or a


But, as I searched internally for my true answer, I realized: I DON’T MISS IT.

Spending a three-hour flight consumed by thinking about how and when to down my drinks – no thanks. Spend the rest of the time wondering how long the Uber ride from the airport to the hotel would be and whether I should stop and buy alcohol for the hotel room or go straight to the bar – nope. Spend hundreds of dollars to feel slightly buzzed or totally blitzed and eventually hungover – not a chance!

“I really don’t miss it. Finally. I think last year at this time, I maybe still would have. I really think it took two full years of living life without a drop to understand all I was missing out on when I thought I was living so large.”

“That’s great. I’m proud of you. And, I really don’t think I could have sat here and watched you sneak four drinks in three hours without being really worried about you.”

“Well, I likely would have hidden part or most of it from you to avoid that,” I responded back. 

“And that would have really, really worried me.”

“Me, too.”

For the rest of the trip, I occasionally stopped to notice the drinking around me and pondered the spectrum of those imbibing. Everywhere we went, the statistics from the plane seemed to be the same. There are always some people not drinking at all. This is shocking to me. When I first quit, I thought that I would be totally alone on an island of sobriety while the rest of the world drank their fill. And, while a lot of people do still drink, I have very rarely been the only person not consuming alcohol. My “Sober in Las Vegas” trip was no exception. And there were also a good percentage of people who were drinking within reason and seemed totally in control. (Those are the people we all feel just a twinge of jealousy over, right? 🙂 )

But there were also versions of “the old me” everywhere I looked as well. There were the folks with Bloody Mary’s and beer backs at brunch; there was a group of guys pouring liquor into their coffees in the hot tub; there was a young woman carrying a tray of shots for her and her friends past our table at lunch; and there were people with that far-away look in their eyes: not quite sure where they were or what they were doing, but determined to keep drinking through it.

Tune In To What you are Really Missing

As we begin February, I challenge you to “tune in” to your drinking – whether it be reflecting on your past, doing the work of each day in the present, or making goals for the future. While sober in Las Vegas, as I tuned in and looked around me, I really and truly knew that I DID NOT MISS IT. Not one bit. I didn’t crave a beer or wish for a glass of wine or ever consider or lust after a cocktail. Because for me, I know that my drinking life lies on either spectrum: nothing at all or way, way too much.

And, I had fun! I sat in the hot tub feeling no anxiety about how much I drank or when I could start again; I ate at expensive restaurants and didn’t care how much the bill was because I’d saved enough money by not drinking that I can treat myself; I watched incredible performances and didn’t have to leave to use the bathroom or worry about ordering enough drinks to get me through the show; I gambled a little bit and sipped sparkling water; I slept well and came home feeling fresh. And there were no drunk arguments, no messy text messages, no skinned knees or twisted ankles. There wasn’t a sick feeling that a bottle of beer costs $15 each and I want ten. There wasn’t a panic about whether or not my boyfriend was judging how much I drank when I was probably already hiding a lot of it from him. 

There was freedom and presence. And any time I feel like I might be missing out, I take a moment to “tune in” to what I’m really missing. And time after time, all I’m missing is the drama and the pain and shame. Never the fun. 

There will be many opportunities this month in BOOM for you to tune in to an ongoing conversation about the ups and downs of choosing to be alcohol-free in 2023. Tune in to the reasons that got you here and tune out the voices (internal or external) who tell you that alcohol is needed for a joyous, full life.

Today, I start another month alcohol-free. Whether it is your first, second, or fiftieth, I would like to ask you to join me for today. Tune in to an AF life and tune out the excuses.

What Would an Alcohol-Free 2023 Mean for You?

We just wound up our Dry January and a month long disscussion of Catherine Grey’s The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober. We are now about to start our second month of an alcohol-free 2023 with ” A Tuned in February” and Clare Pooley’s The Sober Diaries.

Did you that 22% of drinkers plan to take a monthlong break from drinking alcohol at some point in 2023? To those of you who successfully completed “A Dry January,” I encourage you to keep going. There really is no better gift you can give yourself than another alcohol-free month. Come join us in our Boom Rethink the Drink community for support and inspiration with “A Tuned in February”. If you join you will read much from us over the next 28 days about what it means to be “tuned in.” If you really want to follow this road less traveled, stick around. We promise to offer a true and candid account of our individual travels. 

Tune in to You with an Alcohol-Free Month this February and an Alcohol-Free 2023.

More by this Author :

“Are You Still Not Drinking?” – How I Quit Drinking and Made Sober Stick!

Lengthening my Fuse in my 2nd Year Sober

A Test of Your Alcohol Awareness – What is Normal Drinking?

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Life is too Short to Waste it Wasted

2 responses to “Sober in Las Vegas”

  1. Thank you for your story and the reminder to reflect on what we see in others drinking that we do not miss! I have also done Vegas sober and it was so fun! Overwhelming, yes, but it helped me learn new coping skills for when trips get overwhelming! Thanks for your thoughts!

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