You\u2019ve decided to get sober, either as the result of an internal or external desire to turn your life around. Perhaps you were in danger of losing your job, family or freedom. There may have been a compelling thought that \u201cenough is enough.\u201d Your first time out with friends has you in a familiar setting and they are about to order a round of drinks. When you turn down their offer to buy you a beer, the response is, \u201cOh, come on, one won\u2019t hurt you. What are you, a lightweight?\u201d They may even question your manhood. There you sit with your non-alcoholic drink, perhaps feeling diminished, still wanting to fit in. Why Would It Matter to Anyone Whether You Drink? When James Swanwick, an Australian-American investor, TV and podcast host, former SportsCenter anchor on ESPN, and Hollywood correspondent voluntarily became sober, he was confronted with that type of feedback from his friends. He says: \u201cFor many guys, drinking is considered a badge of honor. In many cases, it\u2019s how men feel like they can bond. Drinking beer or getting drunk together. So my not drinking posed a threat to some guys. They\u2019d think I was \u2018soft\u2019 or \u2018weak\u2019 or something like that. Women, on the other hand, were mostly impressed. I think they were thinking, \u2018Here\u2019s a man who\u2019s got his life under control.\u2019 They seemed to like that about me.\u201d Swanwick\u2019s perception is that \u201cif one member of a tribe does anything other than the rest, that person may be ostracized. It\u2019s kind of like, \u201cif you\u2019re one of us, you\u2019ll drink.\u201d To be clear, none of my friends were honestly going to un-friend me because I wasn\u2019t drinking. But my actions were remarkably different from the rest of the group. And so maybe they felt threatened or that I was doing something to disrupt the status quo.\u201d Going on a Bender by Gender According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, \u201cMen are more likely than women to drink to excess. Excessive drinking is associated with significant increases in short-term risks to health and safety, and the risk increases as the amount of drinking increases. Men are also more likely than women to take other risks (e.g., drive fast or without a safety belt), when combined with excessive drinking, further increasing their risk of injury or death. \tApproximately 63% of adult men reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days. \tMen (24%) were two times more likely to binge drink than women during the same time period. \tMen average about 12.5 binge-drinking episodes per year, while women average 2.7 binge drinking episodes per year. \tMost people who binge drink are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent. \tIt is estimated that 17% of men and 8% of women will meet criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives. Alcohol as a Social Lubricant for Men A study examining the connection between consumption of alcoholic beverages and the response level of men to the smiles of peers was highlighted in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Said lead researcher Catharine Fairbairn: \u201cWe wanted to explore the possibility that social alcohol consumption was more rewarding to men than to women \u2014 the idea that alcohol might actually \u2018lubricate\u2019 social interaction to a greater extent among men.\u201d How Can Men Stay Sober? \tLet your friends know about your decision to abstain \tSpend time with sober supports \tIn early recovery, it may be necessary to avoid being in the presence of alcohol \tFind social activities that don\u2019t involve drinking, such as working out in the gym, soccer teams, cycling clubs, or walking groups \tVolunteer in the community \tRediscover former hobbies or interests that may have fallen by the wayside when drinking took precedent \tAvoid new romantic relationships early on in your recovery. Standard recommendation in treatment is waiting a year until entering the dating pool \tBe aware of the desire to self-medicate in other ways, such as energy drinks, coffee, smoking, prescription medication or behaviors such as gambling, porn or computer addiction \tEnter into treatment if needed, on an outpatient or inpatient basis \tExplore your perception of what it means to be a man, redefining it if necessary \tConsider who your male role models have been and whether alcohol consumption or alcoholism was\/is part of their identity \tBe aware if there is a dual diagnosis\/co-occurring disorder, such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and seek professional support to face it \tAvoid the temptation to isolate \tBe cognizant of your personal relapse triggers \tSpeak up if you feel subtly or overtly bullied into drinking \tGet involved with some type of fellowship such as AA, SMART Recovery or Refuge Recovery \tConsider sober living environments such as a halfway house or recovery house \tIf you have a spiritual practice or want to engage in one, attend services, pray and read inspirational books \tJoin a men\u2019s group \tMake a list of male celebrities who are sober. They include: Russell Brand, Gerard Butler, Ozzy Osbourne, Robert Downey Jr., David Arquette and Bradley Cooper See your sobriety as a well-earned, if hard won, badge of honor.