If you’re in recovery from alcohol use disorder, you know that you have to learn new skills to navigate sobriety. One of those skills is knowing how to turn down alcohol in social situations. The person offering the drink may not realize that you are in recovery or may not understand exactly what that means. There are ways to say “no” gracefully without making anyone feel uncomfortable.
Many Reasons Why People Don’t Drink
Not everyone chooses to drink alcohol, regardless of their history with it. Some people abstain so they won’t be too inebriated to drive, while others abstain because of a medication they are taking. Some people abstain due to religious reasons. Women who are or may be pregnant may be abstaining from alcohol, and some people choose to abstain for health reasons. In short, you likely won’t be the only person at the party who is staying away from alcohol.
No “Cheat Days” in Recovery
Some people may try to encourage you to take a drink, thinking that your recovery is like a diet. “You can cheat today and get back on track tomorrow.” This kind of thinking – and having these kinds of people around you – is dangerous. The minute you get cocky about your recovery and think you can manage it on a part-time basis, you start to open the door just a little toward a slip.
A slip can turn into a relapse very quickly. The person with the most at stake in your continued recovery is you. Make the decisions that best serve you.
Tips for Turning Down Alcohol in Social Situations
1. Keep it Simple
You don’t owe anyone an explanation about why you don’t drink. “No, thanks. I don’t drink,” will suffice. It’s a complete answer, and you don’t have to go into details, even if someone tries to pry.
2. Make Eye Contact
When you make eye contact while giving your response, you are letting the other person know that you are confident in what you’re saying. They are less likely to challenge you on your response.
3. Bring Non-Alcoholic Drinks with You
When attending a private party, bring your own soft drinks, sparkling water, or juice that you’d like to enjoy while at the event. Most people who invite a group to their home will have non-alcoholic drinks available, but it’s good to have your own drink on hand just in case.
4. Keep Your Cup Full
If you already have something to drink, then you avoid the issue of being asked whether you want another one. Fill up your cup with a non-alcoholic beverage and sip at it throughout the party. If anyone asks whether you want another drink, you can respond that you already have one.
5. Say You’re the Designated Driver
With all the warnings that have been issued against drinking and driving, very few people would question someone who says they are staying alcohol-free because they are driving other people home at the end of the evening. If you are the designated driver for your friends, no one will question your choice not to drink alcohol.
Keep in Touch with your Feelings when Socializing
If you are at a party or other get-together and start to feel nostalgic for the times when you could drink, it’s a sign that you should leave. It is normal to feel cravings, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay in that environment longer than necessary. You may want to enlist the help of someone you trust to go with you to help monitor your mood and even give you an “out” if you decide to leave early.
Get Help for Alcohol Use Disorder
Great Oaks Recovery Center offers residential care to clients who are living with alcohol addiction. Our full continuum of care includes detoxification, individually-based treatment, and continuing care. If you are concerned about your own or a loved one’s drinking, contact us today for more information.