Ways to stay sober on a Saturday night

Saturday nights were one of my biggest challenges in early sobriety. Whether I stayed in or went out, drinking factored into my plans. When I decided to stop drinking, I was suddenly faced with the challenge of figuring out what in the heck to do with myself on a Saturday night. For the first few weeks, I was seriously terrified whenever Saturday rolled around because I truly didn’t know how to handle it. It seemed so strange to be sober on a Saturday! The first week was definitely the hardest, but I made it through and as time went on, I developed new tools to help me stay sober with less white-knuckling involved. I also found better ways to spend my time that actually provided the weekend rest and relaxation I so desperately needed. I enjoy my weekends so much more now, and I hope you will, too!

Here are my top suggestions for staying sober on a Saturday night…

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Arrange to spend time with sober friends. Hit up your best friend or that new friend you made in AA last week. Ask what they’re up to and see if they want to get together. If you don’t have anyone who you feel comfortable asking to hang out, you might look into attending a local recovery meeting, such as an AA or SMART recovery meeting. If meeting in person is not possible due to a need to quarantine, look into meeting up with someone over Zoom or attend an AA or SMART recovery meeting over Zoom on Saturday night.

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Embark on a culinary adventure. I LOVE cooking and baking, so I always plan to try out a new recipe or make an old favorite for my family on Saturday nights. Making my own pizza from scratch is my favorite thing to do on a Friday night, but Saturdays I like to get wild! I’ll try a random recipe I find online, or dig out an old favorite and put a new spin on it. It’s really fun for me. If you’re not into cooking, you could choose a new restaurant to try or order takeout from your favorite place. Whatever you decide to do, plan a meal that excites you!

Make yourself a fancy non-alcoholic drink. I used to drink while I cooked dinner, so I had a really hard time being in the kitchen without drinking at first. Then, I started experimenting with non-alcoholic cocktails and that helped me so much! My go-to is lime-flavored sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice and a lime wedge, but I also sometimes drink ginger sparkling water with a splash of apple juice, 100% tart cherry juice, and Welch’s non-alcoholic Rose. I always pour a non-alcoholic drink for myself before I start making dinner and crank some tunes. The ritual is a big part of what I used to like about drinking. It made me feel like I had permission to relax. But guess what? I don’t need the alcohol to get that feeling! And neither do you.

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Enjoy a movie night. Whether you go out or stay in, this is a fantastic sober activity for a Saturday night! You can watch movies alone or with family or friends. My husband is a major movie buff and has probably seen more movies than anyone I know. His taste in movies is super adventurous and he especially loves foreign films. On the other hand, I tend to stick with more mainstream flicks. But since we both love movies, this is a perfect activity for us on a Saturday night! We used to go out to the movies a lot, but since movie theaters haven’t been open in our state for quite some time, we often bring the theater experience to us on Saturday nights. I usually make popcorn and pour the drinks (non-alcoholic, of course), and my husband makes the living room cozy and queues up the film. I’ve found that I enjoy movies so much more now that I’m sober because I actually follow what’s happening and can think about them and talk about them afterwards.

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Play video games, board games, or other types of games. Here’s another favorite activity in my household! For me, a Saturday night is not complete without some kind of gaming. I love to play video games to unwind and relax. I used to think that drinking made that more fun and I’d drink while I played. But it turns out that I enjoy games way more without drinking and I am also a lot better at them when I’m sober! This is also a great way to be social if you’re unable to see people in person. You can log onto a game where you can play with friends or make some new friends online!

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Get physical! Exercise is crucial for overall good health, and it’s also a nice way to spend some time on a Saturday evening. If you have a gym membership, take a Saturday evening class or go work out with a friend. If the weather is nice, take a long walk or bike ride. This will help you to unwind and relax on a Saturday evening, and it’s a great reminder that you’re doing something amazing for your body, mind, and soul by staying sober.

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Learn about something that interests to you. Have you always wanted to learn to play piano? Learn French? Paint? Repair old cars? Go for it!! You are sober now, which means that you have a higher capacity for learning. All these things that you have always wanted to do are within your grasp now, so you can stop waiting and start doing! Doesn’t that absolutely rock?! For me, being sober means that I can put more time and energy into my various creative pursuits, such as writing, knitting, and baking.  I also read more, I think more deeply about things, and I am more present and focused. I am so grateful that I get to do these things now instead of wasting my time drinking.

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Avoid situations and people that may trigger you to drink. In short, don’t go to a bar or hang around people who will be drinking if you can help it. Especially in early sobriety, it is so important to protect yourself from these kinds of triggers! If you get invited out to the pub by friends, it’s okay to tell them no! You could even let them know that you’re not drinking so that they won’t ask again. Try saying something like, “Thanks so much for inviting me, but I don’t drink anymore. Could we meet up for coffee sometime instead?”

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Make plans for Sunday morning, too! For extra incentive to stay sober on a Saturday night, I always like to plan something fun for Sunday morning. This has a twofold effect: 1) you’ll have something else to lookforward to and 2) you’ll be less likely to drink Saturday night because you don’t want to miss out on your Sunday funday activities! Choose something that requires you to be well-rested and hangover-free to truly enjoy, such as taking a hike, getting coffee and breakfast with a friend at your favorite café, or visiting a local museum or zoo with your kids.  If you prefer to stay in, plan to make breakfast for your significant other, do yoga as the sun rises, or start writing that book you’ve been dreaming about!

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Acknowledge and examine your cravings. In the first month of my sobriety, I would get awful cravings for alcohol regularly, but they were the most intense on Friday and Saturday nights.  It’s hard and it can be very challenging to overcome those feelings. The best strategy I found was not to try to fight the cravings, but to pay more attention to them. This sounds weird, I know, but it really helped me to think about how I was feeling!

When you get a craving, ask yourself, “What am I feeling? Where in my body do I feel it? How does it feel? What thoughts am I having along with these physical sensations?” I noticed over time that my cravings were usually accompanied by a tingly feeling in my forearms and it was like my skin was crawling. Very unpleasant! The thoughts that accompanied this sensation were often worries and fears about things beyond my control. Sadness and loneliness were also big triggers for me. Take a few minutes to look at your cravings and how they’re making you feel physically and emotionally. Write about how you’re feeling or call a friend to talk about it. This will bring more awareness to your feelings and make them less frightening.

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Remind yourself why you’re staying sober. If you have a really tough night, and we all do sometimes, take a few minutes to write down your reasons for staying sober. What made you want to quit drinking? What did drinking take from you? What are you hoping to gain from sobriety? For example, I wanted to quit drinking because I was tired of the cycle of misery I got stuck in. I was tired of wasted days feeling like crap because I had wasted the previous evening drinking. My usual emotional state was sad, anxious, and hopeless. I saw myself as a complete failure. I felt out of control. Drinking took away my self-esteem, self-respect, energy, joy, creativity, and confidence. By quitting drinking, I hoped to get all these things back and to start achieving my life goals again instead of just waiting and wasting my time. And I am grateful to say that I have. My life has improved so much in only 5 months without alcohol. I am so grateful for my sober Saturdays!

Make sure that you plan ahead for best results. It is possible to have a spontaneous sober Saturday evening, but in my experience, having something planned makes it so much easier. By reading this, you’re clearly already thinking ahead, so pat yourself on the back! You’re halfway there. 🙂

I hope this post helps you and that you have an awesome sober Saturday this week! Got more ideas for how to enjoy a Saturday evening without alcohol? Leave a comment below! I’d love to hear your suggestions!

“When I decided to stop drinking, I was suddenly faced with the challenge of figuring out what in the heck to do with myself on a Saturday night. For the first few weeks, I was seriously terrified whenever Saturday rolled around because I truly didn’t know how to handle it.”

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