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How to Be Confident Without Alcohol: Giving Up “Liquid Courage”

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If you’re like most of the world, you’ve probably struggled with self-image and confidence from time to time. And in the past—especially in social situations—alcohol may have come to your rescue.

Countless people aren’t lucky enough to have naturally high self-esteem, and the “liquid confidence” you get from drinking can feel like an easy remedy.

But does alcohol truly make you more confident? And is it really needed at every social gathering?

Below, we’ll dive into alcohol’s effects on your confidence, as well as how to boost your self-esteem—without the booze.

Why Does Alcohol Make You More Confident?

men holding drinks in a bar, liquid confidence
Photo by John Arano on Unsplash

Basically, drinking alcohol reduces your inhibitions, giving you a temporary sense of confidence.1 Alcohol can make it so much easier to approach that beautiful person at a party, or to step on stage to sing karaoke. Essentially, getting drunk means you’re no longer afraid of rejection.

Beyond that, alcohol increases dopamine, causing you to feel a burst of happiness, motivation, and fulfillment when you drink.2 Combine these two chemical effects, and you get “liquid confidence.”

This isn’t true confidence, however. It’s only a fleeting feeling due to intoxication, and usually disappears once the effects of alcohol wear off. In fact, research shows that people with alcohol dependence struggle with more self-image issues than those who drink less (or not at all).3

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So, How Do You Find Confidence Without Alcohol?

Want to stop using alcohol for liquid courage? Here are some tips to build true self-worth without the booze.

1. Focus on Positive Self-Talk

When you struggle with social anxiety, you might notice that the voice in your head is often pessimistic, negative, or self-doubting, which may cause you to want to drink.4

How do you overcome this?

Become aware of these thoughts and mindfully replace them with more positive thoughts. This will help you form a higher opinion of yourself, boosting your confidence from within.5

2. Practice Socializing Without Alcohol

The number one way to get better at something is to practice. If you’re used to socializing with liquid confidence as your aid, it’s time to try socializing without it.

To accomplish this, try doing social activities that don’t typically involve alcohol. This could mean hiking with friends, joining a class, or even just hanging out at a friend’s house. (And if you do decide to head to a party, try to keep your alcohol use to a minimum.)

3. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

two women holding flowers, confident without alcohol
Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash

The truth is that we all say stupid things sometimes. Even though these moments might feel slightly horrifying, the people you’re hanging out with probably won’t even notice. And if they do notice, they’ll likely forget about it in the next ten minutes.

So, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine even when you’re not drinking. And remember that it’s safe to be yourself. No one is expecting you to say and do everything perfectly.

4. Practice Self-Care Habits

While self-care may not change your outlook instantly, it can hugely boost your sense of self-worth over time. When you practice good hygiene, exercise, meditate,6 and eat well, you’ll begin to develop a sense of well-being, belief in yourself, and faith in your abilities.

Yes, healthy habits may be hard to implement at first. But when you get a solid routine going, your self-confidence will improve, shining through when you’re with others.

5. Remember: Others’ Opinions of You Don’t Matter

When you put your self-worth in the hands of other people, things can get rocky. On the days you get positive feedback, you’ll feel over the moon. But your confidence will drop when you aren’t getting that validation.

Building up true self-worth means you won’t need to seek confidence from drinking alcohol or socializing anymore. This more independent attitude, combined with the other tips above, will naturally improve your self-esteem. You’ll develop an inner knowledge that you are valuable, worthy, and lovable—without having to use a substance to change yourself for others.

How to Cut Back on Drinking for Confidence

Abandoning the liquid courage and opting for more natural confidence can be difficult. With that being said, it’s never a bad idea to ask for assistance if you need it.

If you’re relearning to navigate your social life without the booze or find yourself struggling with social drinking, Ria Health can help. You don’t have to consider yourself an alcoholic either—our program can help social drinkers too.

Our team can help you change your drinking patterns through weekly coaching meetings, medical support, prescription medications, and more—all from a handy smartphone app.

Learn more about how it works, or speak with a team member today.


Written By:
Alicia Schultz
Alicia is a Minnesota-based freelancer who writes for Ria Health and various other brands in the health and wellness space. Beyond addiction and recovery, she also covers topics relating to general well-being, mindfulness, fitness, mental health, and more. When she’s not writing, you can find her relaxing with her three-legged cat, trying new workout routines, and spending time with her loved ones.
Reviewed By:
Evan O'Donnell
Evan O’Donnell is an NYC-based content strategist with four years’ experience writing and editing in the recovery space. He has conducted research in sound, cognition, and community building, has a background in independent music marketing, and continues to work as a composer. Evan is a deep believer in fact-based, empathic communication—within business, arts, academia, or any space where words drive action or change lives.
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