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Sobriety

5 Tips for New Non-Drinkers in the QTPOC Community

"A little preparation can help you socialize with more confidence and prioritize your well-being"

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Written by Latiana Blue.

Art by Tylah Gantt for This is Pink Boot.

 

For eight years, alcohol was a quick and fated way to escape my body, the actual world, and my inner world. It didn’t have to cost much, and, being a part of the QTPOC community here in NY, it was easy to get a hold of.

 

I quit drinking in June 2018, a few weeks before NYC Pride. At the time, socializing in my QTPOC community brought a lot of anxiety; my only way of managing it was to avoid social gatherings altogether.  Without a therapist, this decision gave me a greater sense of control over my mental health, alcohol use disorder, and other life changes.

 

In my case, although I felt safest in QTPOC spaces, alcohol was often present and problematic for me. It gave me a short-lived and false sense of joy in social atmospheres.

It seemed like a logical next step, but that turned into over one year of avoiding spaces I was familiar with. I understand how difficult it can be to re-enter QTPOC spaces as a new non-drinker. I also know what I’d do differently if I could start over.

That’s why I created this guide. If you’re a QTPOC and no longer drinking – amazing. A little preparation can help you socialize with more confidence and prioritize your well-being. Here are five of my tips to help you do that. Grab a pen and paper!

  1. Make note of your support systems

During the initial stages of not drinking, identify at least one person you can talk to and why you trust them. If they’re on your list, that means they’ll be receptive to your boundaries when you figure them out. They won’t invalidate your emotions when you share them or pressure you to enter spaces that compromise your wellbeing. If you don’t have someone, I see you, and that’s OK. Check out this national helpline for LGBTQ+ alcohol use support.

While identifying your support system(s), consider what kind of support you need from them.

You can ask yourself:

  • What does support look like to me as a new non-drinker?
  • Does this person have the capacity to show up like this right now?
  • How do I feel when I talk to this person about my boundaries?
  • How has this person shown up for me before?

When you decide to quit drinking, feeling out of place in your usual social circle(s) is a valid response. Build awareness around who you can trust and what kind of support you need, and you’ll be less likely to isolate yourself in fear.

Always be thinking about your needs. It’ll help you enter and leave a space feeling prepared and in control.

  1. Identify and affirm your values

Quitting drinking is a big lifestyle change. Staying focused on your values – the reasons why you quit drinking – can help you reprioritize and better manage your emotions when cravings seep in (because they will).

Your why could be one big reason or a list of many. One way to determine your values: envision what differences you’d like to see in your life and how quitting drinking will help influence those adjustments.  

It’s been over two years for me, and recalling my values is still key to managing cravings. I think about what I’m working toward and what I’d lose, like my physical and mental wellbeing, in exchange for one impulsive decision.

  1. Gauge the intention of the space

Creating new boundaries for how you socialize is a must. This includes being intentional about how you spend your time and knowing what spaces aren’t right for you.

When I was still drinking and after I quit, I noticed a lot of QTPOC were socializing in bars, parties, and clubs. Even during the first wave of Covid-19, the entire internet became obsessed with alcohol, and a lot of us were virtually involved beyond our will.

It’s important to consider why QTPOC spaces often include alcohol use. It’s a crucial conversation to have, especially because QTPOC may not receive the care they need when reaching out for substance abuse support.

When you decide to quit drinking, feeling out of place in your usual social circle(s) is a valid response. Build awareness around who you can trust and what kind of support you need, and you’ll be less likely to isolate yourself in fear.

In my case, although I felt safest in QTPOC spaces, alcohol was often present and problematic for me. It gave me a short-lived and false sense of joy in social atmospheres, and it amplified my symptoms of clinical depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.

If you’re going to a virtual or in-person event, ask yourself:

  • What do I want from this space, and what will I bring to it?
  • What do I believe is the intention of this event, and does that align with what I need today/tonight?
  • What opportunities will I have to check-in with myself throughout this event, if needed?

Always be thinking about your needs. It’ll help you enter and leave a space feeling prepared and in control.

  1. Observe how you respond to triggers

Your awareness of alcohol will shift once you quit drinking. Your observations will magnify because your access to consuming it is now limited. (Shoutout to your brain for unlearning patterns and creating new behaviors!)

The extent of your alcohol use will affect how your mind and body react to encountering it. If you’re joining a virtual or in-person event for the first time(s) after quitting drinking, think about your previous responses to seeing alcohol, and how that reaction may amplify in a fully conscious state. Consider what may help you regain control, and refer to your answers on the above tips. Experiencing triggers related to alcohol is a part of the ongoing healing process.

  1. Manage your expectations

Before going to a virtual or in-person event, get clear on what you can expect. This will help you more confidently navigate any space upon entering it. You can ask yourself:

  • Does this space meet me where I’m at, or am I folding to meet it?
  • If I know alcohol will be served, who can join me and provide support, as needed?
  • In order to prioritize myself, how long will I stay if alcohol is or isn’t present?
  • What will I say when someone offers me a drink or asks if I want one?

The last question is my favorite–a simple no will suffice!

I hope this guide offers you a sense of support, structure, and ease no matter how long you choose to socialize without drinking. Let me know what you think.


About the Author

Latiana Blue (she/they) is a freelance sobriety writer, rare INFJ and the founder of Office Hrs. Latiana has been alcohol-free for nearly two and a half years. 

Follow Office Hrs on Instagram @officehrs.online.| Latiana on Instagram and Twitter @heylatiana!


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