It’s Bound to Happen
When you have made the decision to become sober and are in recovery from your alcohol addiction, it is inevitable that there will be a situation or occasion where you will find yourself being offered a drink. Whether it is a wedding, a neighborhood gathering, a work-related function, or any of the numerous situations when drinking alcohol is a common occurrence, being prepared in advance on ways to turn down a drink will make you feel stronger and more confident.
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Different Ways to Turn Down Alcohol in Social Settings
You do not need to tell anyone your personal situation unless you want to. Depending on the particular situation, by planning ahead what you are going to say when you are offered a drink, your answer will be firm and polite.
A Simple and Direct “No, Thank You”
Many times when someone offers you alcohol, a kind but firm “No, thank you” is enough. Oftentimes, the person will respect your answer and not push you for a reason why you do not want an alcoholic drink.
If the person does not respect your choice and continues to be persistent about your having a drink or starts asking questions, give them a more detailed, casual, and polite response as to why you are declining their offer of an alcoholic drink. By doing this, you are providing them with a reason that cannot be argued with.
I’m Driving or I am the Designated Driver
Depending on the circumstances, telling the person offering you a drink that you are driving home or that you are the designated driver for your group is a response that very few people will question. Putting safety first is always an admirable choice.
I Don’t Drink
Simply telling the person that you don’t drink takes courage. Hopefully, that answer should be enough for them to accept the fact. But be prepared, they may be persistent in asking why you don’t drink. Remember you do not have to reveal anything about yourself that you are not comfortable revealing. You do not have to tell them your life story and share that you abused alcohol in the past or that you are in recovery.
If their persistence continues, use one of the following excuses to explain why you are not drinking:
- Tell them that you quit drinking.
- Say that you are on medication and cannot mix alcohol with it.
- Tell them that you are on a diet and every calorie counts. Saying you don’t want to have the empty calories that are in the alcohol is a reasonable answer.
- Simply say that you don’t feel like drinking tonight or that you are not drinking tonight.
- Tell them that you developed an allergic reaction to alcohol.
No Thanks, I Have to Go to Work Tomorrow
Several additional variations on this response include:
- I need to have a clear head in the morning.
- I have to get an early start to my day tomorrow.
- I don’t want to be hungover tomorrow.
- I have to get up early.
Change the Subject
Turn the subject of having a drink in a different direction. For example, talk about a new juice cleanse you want to try or ask if anyone else wants the drink. A few moments of distraction are often enough to make someone forget about whether or not you are drinking alcohol.
Have a Non-Alcoholic Drink in Your Hand
Holding a glass in your hand containing your favorite non-alcoholic beverage is a great way to stop others from offering you a drink. When someone offers you an alcoholic beverage, you can hold up your glass and tell them that you already have your preferred beverage.
Whether you are drinking your favorite fizzy water, flavored soda, fruit juice, or mocktail, no one needs to know the contents of your glass. Some people will even let the bartender know that they do not drink alcohol and ask that their drink is put in the same type of glass used for alcoholic beverages.
I’m in Recovery
Some people may decide to simply tell the person offering them an alcoholic beverage that they are in recovery from alcohol abuse. This does not mean that you need to tell everyone at the event. Tell the host or the person offering the drink, in a simple, matter-of-fact way.
Make sure that the situation does not turn awkward by letting the person know that you are fine with other people drinking. Let them know that you would like a non-alcoholic drink. This should only be done if you are completely comfortable with the subject.
Some additional tips to help you navigate social situations where alcohol is being served include:
- It is often helpful to script and practice your response. Imagine what the other person might say and prepare your response. Write it down and rehearse it aloud. Some people ask a supportive person to role-play with them. It is important that the person chosen offers realistic pressure to have a drink. They must also give honest feedback about the responses you give.
- Look directly at the person offering you the drink and make eye contact.
- Be respectful, friendly, firm, and clear in your responses.
- Avoid giving vague excuses or lengthy explanations.
- Keep your responses simple and short.
- If possible, let your host know in advance that you do not drink alcohol. Depending on the occasion, the host can let others know not to offer you an alcoholic drink. This prevents you from being put in an uncomfortable situation.