How to Say No to Alcohol Without Having to Explain Yourself

 In Alcoholism

If you’re new to recovery, you’re seeing the world in a clear and brand new light.

Congratulations on this huge step. 

Getting to a place where you can say no to alcohol as a coping method takes a lot of work, perseverance, and commitment.

But if you’re not quite ready to divulge that you’re in recovery, finding a way to tell others you don’t want a drink can present a challenge.

Even if you’re staying away from “wet places and wet faces”, alcohol continues to be an integral part of celebrations such as birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries.

And you simply can’t avoid all of them.

So How Do You Say No to Alcohol Then?

It makes sense that people might be confused when you turn down a drink at a celebration. Especially if you have a history of not turning down alcohol.

If you’re not at a point yet where you want to have the “I’m in recovery” discussion, that’s completely okay. 

Fortunately, the vast majority of these celebrations have alcohol-free options that you can get from the cooler, bar or the host.

But when an old friend or member of the family is (drunkenly) insisting that you NEED to loosen up and have a drink, there are many ways you can work around this.

Here are some of the things you can say:

1. I Already Have a Drink 

If possible, keep a drink in your hand at all times.

When you arrive at the event, get yourself a glass of sparkling water, cranberry juice, soda or other alcohol-free beverage of your choice.

Then when fellow guests start pressuring you to go to the bar with them, you can simply tell them you’re all set and don’t need a refill. 

They don’t have to know what you’re drinking. And if they ask, you can tell them not to worry about it and that you’ll get more when you’re ready. 

2. I Am the Designated Driver

Drinking and driving is no joke.

With so many fatalities and life-changing disasters that come from it, states have issued stricter laws. That’s why more and more drinkers are actually volunteering to be designated drivers to keep their fellow drinking buddies safe.

Announcing that you’re the designated driver is going to quickly shut down any pressure from others for you to drink. It’s one of the few completely acceptable excuses among revelers. 

And if someone doesn’t find it acceptable, give them the shaft. You don’t need to waste your time on someone so unenlightened.

3. I Have a Big Day Tomorrow 

It could be a big presentation at work. Or maybe you have an early morning boot camp workout before a day of rigorous volunteer work.

Of course, you’ll have the naysayers who tell you not to worry about tomorrow, or that the night is still young.

You can simply remind them that you’ve said the same thing in the past and that it hasn’t served you well. Be ready with a story or two about situations that were negatively affected by a hangover.

And be sure to remind them that waking up still drunk the next morning is actually “not cool” and can put you and others at risk of an accident if you have to drive somewhere. 

Again, you’ll have people who appear to be upset with you. But just remember that they’re really just upset with themselves because alcohol still has a power over them that it no longer has over you.

4. I Have Reached My Limit

This is a great response because it’s twofold. 

First, it lets people know that you’ve developed an awareness and understanding of what’s the right amount for you. 

But just making the statement might also be enough to encourage those around you who have clearly met or even passed their limit that it’s time to stop. 

And you’re doing this without scolding, admonishing or looking down upon anybody else for their behavior. 

5. I Am on a Diet/Medication 

If you’re not actually cutting calories or taking pills for a condition, this might feel like a lie. 

But if you think about it, taking medication or going on a diet are both activities that do something toward bettering your health.

In quitting alcohol, you are actually cutting calories. Plus, you’ve made the conscious decision to no longer consume something that is unhealthy for you. That’s the definition of a diet.

And as far as saying you’re on medication?

The choice to stop self-medicating with alcohol is one of the best medicines you’ll ever take.

Sure, it may be a stretch. But you don’t owe anybody any explanations.

6. I Am in Recovery and No Longer Drink

This one is last on the list only because for some who are new to recovery, it’s the toughest one to say.

But as mentioned above in #5, you don’t owe anybody any explanations. And the longer you’re in recovery, the more obvious this will become.

When you do get to the point where you can say this, you’ll still be faced with the possibility that someone will say that “just one” won’t hurt you. Or there will be well-meaning people who want to know the details of your issues with drinking.

That’s why this last response takes some serious courage. But you’ve already done the scariest part: committing to alcohol rehab to quit drinking.

You will eventually be able to offer this response and not feel any pressure around it. When you do, you can rest assured knowing that the people around you will learn to accept that you have changed.

And they’ll see how it’s truly for the better.

Take It One Day at a Time

It’s not easy learning to say no to alcohol. And the continued commitment to an alcohol-free life is definitely a process.

But you’ve got this. So keep at it and you’ll continue to see the rewards.

In the meantime, if you have a friend or family member who you think would benefit from this same journey, contact us today to find help. 

You’ll be giving them the chance to take part in a life that’s worth living.

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