‘I’m funnier when I drink.’ This and other myths about drinking, busted

If you’ve ever wondered how changing your relationship with drinking would affect your social life, you’re not alone. It does, says Dru Jaeger, but in positive ways you never expected.

Portrait of Dru Jaeger
By Dru Jaeger
Dru Jaeger is co-founder of Club Soda, the mindful drinking movement, where he designs and leads programs to help people become more confident in their personal and social lives. He’s also the author of How to Be A Mindful Drinker.

We live in a culture where drinking and socializing often seem synonymous. If you’re thinking about cutting down or taking a break, you might be wondering if your social life will suffer.

Successfully socializing without alcohol can boost your confidence. A night off drinking doesn’t have to mean a night on your own. Let’s explore some of the myths around drinking and socialising, so you can get out and have a good time.

If you drink to feel more confident in social situations, realize that the confidence actually comes from you, not a bottle.

‘I’m funnier when I drink’

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, so you and your audience will be more likely to laugh. But alcohol-fuelled humour can be hard to get right. Being sober sharpens your wit, helps you read your audience and ultimately makes your comedy quicker and funnier.

Alcohol doesn’t make you something you’re not. If you drink to feel more confident in social situations, realize that the confidence actually comes from you, not a bottle. Take a deep breath and relax. Listen to others, build on what they say, and let your natural sense of humor shine through.

‘I have to keep up with my friends’

If your friendship group centers on drinking together, change can feel daunting. Many people have friends who are always up for another drink, or suddenly appear with a round of shots. The pressure to join in is real.

But despite the social expectations, remember that drinking is never compulsory. If your friends drink, you don’t have to make a big deal about your choice not to. Most people will be happy to spend time with you and won’t care what’s in your glass.

If someone offers to buy you a drink, it’s often because they want to include you in the group. You’re allowed to ask for something alcohol-free! And if you don’t entirely trust them not to order a measure of gin with your tonic, offer to help them at the bar.

‘Drinking is the most important part of a party’

For many people who change their habits long-term, one of their most memorable moments is their first big social event. Going to a party and reducing or not having any alcohol can be eye-opening.

For one thing, you suddenly notice everyone who isn’t drinking: the designated drivers, the early shift workers, the pregnant people. You can always find someone interesting among them to chat with. And the best thing about socializing in this way? You’ll remember all the conversations you had in the morning.

You might worry about being liked, but liking yourself is more important. Whether you’re fun or serious or somewhere in between, it’s OK to be you.

‘People who don’t drink are boring’

If you associate socializing with drinking, you might imagine that people who don’t drink are boring. It doesn’t help that we sometimes use the word ‘sober’ to mean serious, and there’s a common myth that people who stop drinking also stop being fun. If you worry that underneath it all you might be a bit dull, this could hold you back even from cutting down.

Being fun and being popular seem to go hand in hand. You might worry about being liked, but liking yourself is more important. Whether you’re fun or serious or somewhere in between, it’s OK to be you.

How many times have you carried on drinking rather than admit that you’re just not enjoying yourself? Put yourself first, and be the first to leave a party if you want to.

‘I’m shy and need alcohol as a social crutch’

If you’re anxious, you may feel it more strongly around other people, and might turn to drinking to cope. But you’re not alone. Drinking to manage social anxiety is surprisingly common.

However, it can make the problem worse. Social anxiety can be rooted in the fear that, if people really got to know you, they wouldn’t like you. Drinking to deal with anxiety is therefore a fairly risky tactic – if you drink too much, you might not make a good impression.

Alcohol has a way of making us ignore things, including social anxiety. But you can also deal with your shyness by shifting attention towards other people. Find a friendly-looking person and ask them questions. People enjoy talking about themselves and that can take the spotlight off you for a while.

Are you concerned about the effects of drinking on your body?