it can’t be that important

if you work in a place with a boozy culture, it can’t be that important to ‘fit in’ that you’ll do something that isn’t what’s best for you.



It can’t be so important to fit in. It just can’t. So you have three choices: you either attend the events and don’t drink, or you don’t attend, or you work somewhere else. And a boozy cruise? I say no to that, hands-down, and here’s why.

This audio is taken from podcast SP204 (the full version of the audio is 20 minutes long).

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I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • I’m a newbie – today is Day 21 of being out here doing my sober thing. You are so right about doing too much – resting (lots) in the first month – having the supports in place. I always wondered if there were people out there like me, and now I know I am not alone in the “overdrinking” and the “thinking about drinking” and the “trying harder” etc etc. I now understand that the wolfie voice is bullshit. That others (like my husband) do NOT have this voice in their heads (imagine that…). So they don’t get it and encourage moderation, self control etc. Now I know in my head and heart that not drinking at all is so much easier. Hallelujah and amen!

    I haven’t talked to anyone in my family about it. They don’t get it. But I know they appreciate me being sober and I hope they will learn to trust that I will remain sober. I will not drink for 100 days, no matter what. And I have a feeling that one I get that far out, I will be able to keep extending it. Maybe not forever, but until I am old? Until I retire? Until it just doesn’t matter anymore? That’s a really really long time from now!

    And I listen and listen to your voice, Belle. Thank you.

  • CrybabyinCali
    Day 27
    Sometimes Belle you mention things and I think that is exactly how I feel!! Being sober now I would hate a booze cruise and would never want to drive with someone to a party. Don’t want to be stuck anywhere! I am on my 27th day so I’m a newbie. I have already snuck out of a graduation party and refused a bomb fire at the beach and avoided friends who I used to love to drink with. I have actually made more daytime plans with friends and it is so much easier for me. I have also avoided the restaurants we normally went to when I drank. I just feel like right now it just makes me feel anxious in these situations. I am hoping that this gets easier!! I love my bedroom more and more and find myself there around 8pm listening to podcasts or reading. It’s my safe place.

  • I’m on day 23 today and having a really really really hard day. So I’m reading all your emails Belle, and your posts trying to make something stick so I don’t drink tonight. Lately I’ve attended a few events, stayed sober and drove myself and others home. Then I feel resentful cause I’m driving them all the time. Or I’m at home alone avoiding events. Which makes me feel lousy. I’m trying to find a happy medium here.

    • you might find that in the beginning, it’s easier to not attend these sorts of events at all. i didn’t do much socializing outside the home in the first 6 weeks or so. you might be doing too much, which can make the voice in your head too loud … it does shift, but to begin it’s better for you to take care of you.

  • Once you successfully stand up for yourself and decline a drink you begin to feel empowered. Just try it once, maybe in a different environment first, and see how it feels. You may be surprised at how good it feels.

  • Luckily I don’t have a boozey job, but I feel for those that do. Totally agree with you about cruises – last summer (when I was still drinking), we spent hundreds of dollars extra to have the all-included bar menu, and drank alongside all the other moms and dads at the pool, often starting at 9 am. Somehow that was the norm (or through my alkie eyes it seemed that way) and I fit right in. I could never ever do a cruise again – the constant temptation would be exhausting. Not worth it!!!

  • What if we rearrange our thinking? Not a “fit in” kind of culture. What if we think of it as “stronger” . We are stronger than the boozy folks. We don’t do things that make us sick. My aunt died last week sitting on a stool in her bedroom. Just leaned over against the bed and died. Not because she was unhealthy or drunk or even that old–mid 70’s. Life is too short to do bad for us things to fit in. If I lean over and die one day just after I put on the coffee– I want to know I’ve done everything to live.

  • Day 40 Took the family to an evening beach outing, picinic and ice cream after. Coming home thru town a DUI check point was set up and I was elated to drive thru it, knowing I’m sober, not buzzed. I’m in control. Anxiety isn’t present. I’ve spent 20 years drinking and being reckless as I sit passenger, as alcohol drives my life. But no more…now I’ll always drive.

  • I’m so over boozy events. I don’t need to get plastered to spend time with people. I’m self employed now, so I don’t have to deal with boozy work culture anymore. But I used to work with people who liked to go out after work for drinks. And I loved it. Because I thought I couldn’t connect to people without alcohol fueling me. But now I know that’s not true. It’s absolute bullshit. And it’s a lie that boozers tell each other, and that they tell themselves. Now I’m almost 8 months sober, and I can connect with other people, and more importantly, myself, in a healthy, REAL, way. And after years and years of drinking and not knowing who I really was (and hating myself), little by little, I’m uncovering more and more of my true self. And it’s amazing.

  • Yes – drunk people are loud and repetitive and boring.
    I like having an escape plan and knowing about how long I can be in that kind of situation. Then leaving. Taking care of me. Staying committed to my sobriety.

  • Trying to fit in with boozers is pointless. It’s a dead end. Find people to socialize, work, associate with that don’t pressure you into drinking. It’s just not worth risking the work you have done.

  • One of my previous jobs had a kitty for drinks at the pub on the last Friday of every month. Of course I went to help spend it. I only went once because once was enough to get drunk enough to embarrass myself completely. But the next ‘work’ event I had to attend was to congratulate the team for their hard work on a project – and they took us to a wine tasting event. Another disaster for me and absolutely mind boggling why alcohol is even involved in work functions! So when the office Christmas party rolled round my manager made a comment to me that she hoped I wouldn’t fall off my chair this time (it was months later and I was sober at that stage). I really didn’t see the funny side of this comment. It hurt me so much I just didn’t attend and that was the best choice I could have made. Drinking with work colleagues is never a good idea. Actually, drinking is never a good idea. Full stop.

  • Great to hear this today – I’ve been sober for just over a year, and five months ago I moved to a different country. I have a new job and as well as trying to make friends at work, I’m trying to make friends in general life..! It’s hard to navigate a social world which seems to revolve around alcohol. I’m trying to become part of the team at work socially, without putting myself in situations which are going to be stressful or bad for my well being. I’m still trying to find who ‘I’ am as a sober person, which adds another edge to the already challenging task of making s brand new set of friends as an adult. This has reminded me that it’s okay – I don’t have to squeeze myself into the mould of who I used to be, but sober. There’s some activities I just don’t have to do.

  • I give 50/50. Sometimes I’ll show up to say hello, drink a seltzer and say my kids are waiting. Other times I know it’s like entering a cave with the big bad wolf just smiling from behind that bar and lots of drinkers ready to share the booze so I choose to not engage. I think like all circumstances in life you need to choose what’s best for you. What’s your comfort zone and set up real boundaries around it. It helps you recognize when a situation isn’t right for you and act according, with strong will and courage. You vs you!

  • Since I quit drinking six months ago my biggest thing that I have had to work on is just learning to say no and setting boundaries. Sobriety has been fairly easy thus far. But I think it has been easy because I have boundaries and am realistic with what I can and can’t handle in these early times. Because I am still on shaky grounds, if there is a party (and it does not include a dinner) and there is just booze..I usually say no. In the early days, it was because I was afraid I would drink. At 6 months, it’s not that I even think that I would drink, it’s just that I know I would have a lousy time and just feel bad about myself. I’m just not willing to put myself in situations where I know I will feel out of place and feel bad. When I first quit drinking, one of my best friend’s had a 40th birthday party. It was at the top of the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. No dinner, an open bar and I just knew I would either fail and drink or feel miserable and alone because I could not drink. I called her up and told her for the first time that I had a drinking problem and that I wanted to quit and that I felt I couldn’t handle a big party so soon in my sobriety. Unfortunately, she did not seem as empathetic as I had anticipated and to this day our friendship is not the same. I was in my first few weeks of recovery. I questioned whether I made the right decision back then. I felt horrible for saying no. Today, as I look back, I know I made the right decision. My gut told me say no. I am learning to trust my gut and not put myself in situations where I will feel bad or be tempted to drink. Today, I am willing to dissapoint people to protect my recovery. With my friend, instead of attending her party, I offered to take her out to a nice dinner. She never took me up on the offer. And it’s okay. Our friendship has changed. We were big boozer’s together. I’m not sure she has a place for me anymore. But since then, some incredible people have entered my life and most of my good friends understand and are more than happy to meet me for coffee or lunch. My life is different today. There are times where I have to attend events (like weddings) where I am around a lot of drinking and (like Belle) I take my own car and have a plan to leave if needed. So far, the boundaries I set have worked out well. Life is so much better without alcohol. My recovery comes first. You can be a kind person and say no. You can be a kind person and have boundaries. Thank you Belle for all you do!

  • I still feel really uncomfortable declining the glass of champagne to toast a retirement. My boss was passing them around and made a bit of a scene about my refusal, the usual comments like just for the toast, a little sip, etc. I should not have gone.

  • Sometimes I forget Belle’s wise words to ‘have an exit strategy’. Even at lunch. Keeps us safe. DR

  • I completely agree that if the boss is a committed heavy drinker, who feels the need to lock everyone else in with him/her, there’ll be other issues in the office. TBH I can’t stand workplaces that have little respect for employees home lives- feels exploitative. I’d set a clear boundary from the outset.

  • I really relate to the whole needing my own way home. I never want to feel trapped especially at a boozy event. 1) I got to take care of me and 2) when I’m done I’m done. When I was drinking this was disastrous but sober I’m assertive however I will get rude if I’m over a situation. Not because I’m rude as a person but I only have so much energy and once what I’ve set aside for a party/event is used I got to recharge. I used to do that with booze amd then crash and burn my life. Now, sober, I dont do boozy events past the excuse for having it being done. Go to wedding, eat at reception and home I skip. Office Christmas party I’m staying for food and gifts then I’m out. I say hi to the people who care and the boozers don’t care so no worries. After that I recharge nice sober me with quiet and sleep. Sober me is a better me so I always have an out/plan. Hugs.

  • I recently attended a party, it was a party for my son’s baseball team, 9-12 year olds. I was the only adult not drinking. I knew there would be alcohol, so I arrived late, told my son when exactly we would be leaving, and that’s what we did. I would never do a boozy cruise (or any cruise…to claustrophobic!) No way to escape! I think I would be looking for a different job.

  • I remember going to work parties and not remembering half of it the next day. Also, a fellow co-worker said to me the next week something to the effect of how I left a terrible impression on her after that party. I don’t ever want to be that drunkard again.

  • my sober bubble. I would stay in my sober bubble. At first in early sobriety I did this often…. now I forget that sometimes it’s hard for people in early sobriety to be around alcohol and the drunkies. I myself am not bothered any longer, oh but I do remember the times where it were a struggle. Leaving before the bewitching hour, which is normally around 10pmish or so helps a ton. But I don’t mind not fitting in. My life, my monkeys, my circus…. I choose who belongs and who doesn’t. Being alcohol free allows me to do this.

  • Sober supports are so important for me. Even when those permission thoughts are not persistent I make a conscience choice to listen to Belle’s podcasts or jump on here and read about other peoples journeys in the battle against this addiction. In my RL there really are no people who get this. Understand the constant work and commitment that is involved to maintain my well earned sobriety. But Belle and the people here do. That is why I am on here continually (even though I don’t post often) and that is also why I am extra kind to myself even though sometimes I may not think I deserve it. If I want a treat – I go and get something. And I always say to myself this is your treat. You deserve it. You have been a career drinker and now you are changing and adapting to a life without alcohol there to hold your hand. This is tough at times and you are doing good. I get motivation and I get support signing on here and reading all of the positive stories that people in these parts share about their sobriety. It is enlightening and it is liberating. Thanks for this site Belle.

  • The last work event I went to, I hung out with two pregnant women! They were going to be first time moms so I was like an oracle that knew everything, they were so cute. Twice, women came by with a drink in hand and said “pretty soon you can drink again”, comments to that effect. I wanted to smack them.

  • I’m stuck in place where drinking no longer works for me and sober is making me pretty irritable right now. I need sober jumpstart. I need to add supports. Why am I still trying to do this by myself?

  • Remember, they are crabs in a bucket pulling you down. They don’t want to see you fly. In early sobriety there is no need to thrust yourself into a dangerous, no-way-out situation of being on a boat with a lot of party hardy types! Yikes! Talk about setting yourself up for a fall. Set yourself up for success, protect your sober momentum. Don’t take a boozy cruise. Don’t let those nasty crabs keep you in that damn bucket any longer!

  • 846 days for me and I just had a bit of a summer cold. Made me feel a bit like my first week of being sober actually. So I took care of me…and actually listened again to the sober jumpstart class and many other podcasts. It comforted me while I was taking care of me, reminding me of all the good things I have achieved.

  • Since getting sober I see alcohol for what it is – bullshit. I believed everyone drank to excess, everyone drank at work events, alcohol made it easier to socialise… none of this is true. I remember asking, at the beginning of my sobriety, what would I do? What do people who don’t drink do? I believed non drinkers were a different breed of boring, grey dullards. But in sobriety I’m so busy living…actually living! I’m excelling at work, parenting fully and wholeheartedly and enjoying what life has to offer. There is no event that would make me risk what I have now. Weddings, funerals, work parties…I have never, ever been the only non drinker at these things, nor has anyone given a shit that I wasn’t drinking. It was all Wolfie trying to keep me on his team. But I’m on no ones team now. It’s just me…and I’m enough.

  • I’m heading to a very boozy conference and definitely needing this. Planning to skip dinners and evening events for some chill time in my hotel.

  • So true about being done with socializing much earlier than the boozers. They can repeat themselves for hours and think they’re having the best time. I also think part of that for serious boozers, is that the longer they stay, the more they can drink. When you’re not drinking, there’s no point in continuing the torture of being around them. That guy that interviewed you the other day…I would avoid him at all costs. ?