6 Ways to Say No to Alcohol
If you’re in early sobriety or worrying about an upcoming event, you may be wondering how to say no to alcohol if presented with a drink.
Early sobriety can be challenging as everyone else adapts to your newly acquired sobriety. Additionally, you may be struggling with your own insecurities or stigmas around recovery.
Although being in recovery is something you should be incredibly proud of, as it’s not for the faint of heart, you may not feel ready to tell the world you’re on the wagon for good.
Here we look at ways of staying sober at functions and events while still feeling good about yourself
6 ways to say no to alcohol
Below are 6 ways to say no to an alcoholic drink:
1. Avoid the situation
If you’re in a situation where you feel your sobriety is threatened, your best option is to leave. This can include being in an environment where you truly feel you’re having trouble saying no, and you feel the pressure mounting. Before you get to that breaking point, remove yourself from the situation.
You can offer an excuse to the people you’re with that you need to leave because you have to wake up early, for instance. Or you can simply say it’s time for you to go! You don’t have to always feel like you need to explain yourself. Know that by leaving, you’re making the best decision for yourself, your well-being, and the well-being of those around you.
In conjunction with this, avoidance also means not putting yourself in certain situations at all. If a friend is having a party in a certain part of town and that part of town acts as a trigger for you, don’t go. If everyone is going to a bar and you know it’s hard for you to even be around alcohol, don’t go. Your sobriety is the most important thing, as it impacts all other aspects of your life. Keep this in mind when deciding what events you do and don’t want to attend.
2. Be honest
One way to say no to alcohol is to simply be honest about it if you feel that’s the right thing to do. Some are more comfortable in their recovery, while others may still feel a sense of stigma and insecurity about it. If you feel better being honest about it, simply let someone know you’re in recovery if they offer you a drink. A simple, “No thank you, I’m in recovery,” is all you need to say. You don’t need to offer an explanation beyond this, and they likely won’t be invasive beyond that. You’ll come to find that many people respect you for being serious about your recovery, and for saying no. People who care about you will always honour your boundaries, and strangers aren’t judging you as harshly as you’re probably judging yourself.
3. Be concise
If you don’t feel so comfortable being honest about your recovery, that’s completely okay! It just means you’ll need to find a way to navigate these situations that still feels good to you. One way of doing this is by proving short, firm responses to say no to alcohol if someone offers you a drink. Offering these excuses can help get people off your back, but it’s important that you don’t waver or hesitate when making them.
Some examples of excuses you can make if someone offers you an alcoholic drink:
- “I’m driving.”
- “I’m not drinking tonight.”
- “I can’t be hungover tomorrow.”
- “I don’t drink.”
- “When I’m sober, I have a much better time.”
Offering one of these excuses, or a variation of one of these excuses, can help people know that you’re not drinking without you sharing that you’re in recovery.
4. Provide reasoning
If you don’t feel comfortable providing a concise excuse and would prefer to offer more of an explanation, that’s also an option. For some people, simply saying “no” doesn’t feel good, while for others, that approach feels best.
The most important thing is to find an approach that fits best for you.
Providing reasoning means offering an explanation to accompany your excuse. Having this reasoning planned out can help you feel more confident and secure when you say “no.”
Below are some examples of explanations based on the reasons above:
- “I can’t tonight, I’m driving.”
- “I have an early morning tomorrow so I’m not drinking tonight.”
- “I’m on medication right now that I can’t mix with alcohol, so I’m not drinking tonight.”
- “I’ve actually been kind of under the weather all day, so I’m not drinking tonight.”
- “I can’t be hungover because I have a long day tomorrow.”
- “I’ll have to be up super early for work in the morning so I can’t be hungover.”
- “I started going to the gym so I’m cutting back on alcohol.”
- “Alcohol makes me sick so I don’t drink.”
- “My doctor told me to cut back on alcohol for a while.”
- “I have a better time when I’m sober. I’m not a lot of fun when I drink.”
Find reasoning that feels authentic to you, and that you feel comfortable sharing. If you get pushback, make sure to remain firm in your “no.” One drink can easily send you into a backslide, so remain unwavering.
5. Take a sober friend with you
If you’re going somewhere where you know there’s going to be alcohol, it can be incredibly helpful to take a sober friend or sober coach with you. You’ll feel more at ease and confident in yourself, knowing you have the added insurance of a friend who will make sure you don’t drink. Additionally, bringing a sober friend with you can make you feel more comfortable, as you’ll know you’re not the only one who isn’t drinking. As you develop more confidence and security in yourself, you likely won’t need this added support to stay on track. However, it definitely helps in the beginning while you’re still getting your sea legs.
6. Don’t let others make you feel bad
Finally, don’t let other people make you feel bad about yourself for not drinking. You’re taking your life and your well-being into your own hands, and you know that saying no to a drink is a small action with massive benefits for you.
If you find yourself spending time with people who make you feel bad for saying no to a drink, it may be time to rethink the company you keep. People who truly care about you will not make you feel bad for saying no. They’ll accept and honour your boundaries, and continue to have a great time with you.
Saying no to an alcoholic drink can feel incredibly difficult in the beginning, but gradually becomes easier over time.
Always stay in touch with your emotions and thoughts, as being in an emotionally turbulent place can make it even more difficult for you to say no.
Finally, know that eventually, you won’t even give a second thought to saying no, as your way of living sober will become your new normal.
Read more: How to stay sober