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8 Tips to Help You Turn Down Alcohol in Social Settings

Making Sober Socializing Easier

group of young friends camping at dusk, drinking and playing guitar - turn down alcoholRecovering from alcoholism can create special challenges, since alcohol is a common feature at social gatherings. Learning how to turn down a drink can take some practice, but there are a number of strategies you can use to make sober socializing a bit easier.

1. Be Confident in Your Sobriety

If you don’t want a glass of wine or a beer, a simple “No, thank you” should be sufficient. You can share that you’re in recovery if you feel comfortable doing so, but you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your choice.

Practicing saying no ahead of time can be a good way to boost your confidence if you’re in the early stages of sobriety. If you have a 12-Step sponsor, ask him or her for assistance. Going to a meeting before you attend the event can also be helpful, since it will provide you with a reminder of all you’ve accomplished so far and what you stand to lose if you relapse.

2. Bring a Buddy

Having a supportive friend attend the party with you is a good way to protect your sobriety if you’re worried about how to refuse a drink on your own. This person should be someone who understands your substance abuse issues, is willing to stay close to you throughout the evening, and will leave with you if the situation gets out of control.

Your buddy for the event should be someone who doesn’t not drink. You don’t want to risk losing your support system because he or she has become too intoxicated to use sound judgment.

3. Be the Designated Driver

If you’re uncomfortable sharing the exact details of your sobriety, offering to be the designated driver for the evening is one possible approach. Helping other guests get home safely lets you protect your recovery while doing a good deed in the process.

If you’re at a bar or restaurant, keep in mind that many establishments offer free sodas or non-alcoholic drinks for the designated driver. This can help you save money while providing an easy way to keep reminding others of the reason why you’re not drinking.

4. Tell a White Lie

A common excuse people give for not drinking when they don’t want to share the details of their sobriety is that they’re taking medications that can’t be mixed with alcohol. It’s common knowledge that antibiotics, cold and flu meds, and prescription pain medications shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol, so this excuse is unlikely to be questioned.

Since alcohol is high in calories, another white lie that may work for your situation is to say that you’re on diet. Most popular diet plans discourage drinking entirely, but you can always joke that you’d prefer to save your calorie allotment for a particularly delicious dessert.

If you’re at a bar, saying you’re on a budget or trying to save money might be one way to explain why you’re not drinking. However, you should be aware that this excuse could backfire if the person offers to buy you a drink.

5. Always Keep a Beverage in Your Hand

People will be less likely to offer you a drink if you’re already holding a beverage in your hand. If you aren’t sure whether there will be non-alcoholic choices available at the event, bring your own soda, juice, tea, or coffee.

Bringing a reusable mug for your non-alcoholic beverage is certainly eco-friendly, but some people recommend pouring your drink into the cups provided at the party. This makes it difficult to tell at a glance what you’re drinking, which can eliminate the need to constantly explain why you’re abstaining from alcohol.

6. Change the Subject

Distraction can work wonders when it comes to gracefully avoiding sticky situations. You can change the subject by saying you need to use the restroom, make a call, or have spotted a friend you need to check in with. If you know the person well, asking about a common interest or a mutual acquaintance is another good way to avoid talking about why you’re not drinking.

Distraction works best on people who are already a bit tipsy or at a very crowded party. In these cases, even just a few minutes of discussing something else is likely to be enough to make the person forget about your sobriety.

7. Make an Effort to Mingle

Sometimes, the offer of a drink is simply an icebreaker to encourage someone to enjoy the event. If you’re already socializing with other guests, you’ll be showing everyone that you don’t need alcohol to have fun.

Asking questions is a simple way to break the ice if you don’t know many of the other guests at the event. For example, you could ask how someone knows the party host or what they think of the song that is playing. Compliments also work well, such as saying you love someone’s shirt and asking where they purchased it.

8. Know When to Leave

People who respect you as a person will honor your decision to abstain from alcohol. If someone continues to pressure you to drink, the best approach is to simply leave the party. Don’t put your sobriety at risk by continuing to spend time with people who won’t honor the progress you’ve already made in your recovery journey.

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For more information about our treatment programs at Waypoint Recovery Center, South Carolina alcohol rehab clinic, please contact us anytime at (888) 978-5188.

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