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Socialising Sober

July 24, 2014 306 comments

What do we say to people who ask why we’re not drinking? What are some clever ways we deal with social events?

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  1. The best advice someone gave me was to say “I feel better when I don’t drink” it’s so simple and non judgmental.
    I practice it out loud.

    1. lots of great answers and good laughs – but i feel Charlie Gilbert’s answer so simple and so true “I feel better when I don’t drink” – apart from that as an answer i might make it my mantra – say it every half hour in my head til i totally believe it :)

      1. soooo feel the same. There is nothing nicer than waking to a new day the sun on my face and a smile of gratitude. It doesnt get any better than that. “I feel better when I don’t drink” <3

        You guys are awesome :)

  2. Some of my favourite responses to the question “why aren’t you drinking?”

    Boring ones which usually kills the conversation through tedium:
    I’m driving
    I’m working (early) tomorrow
    I’m on antibiotics
    I’m detoxing

    Random answers, designed to confused so they stop being nosey:
    Every time I have a glass of wine a fairy dies.
    The voices in my head tell me coca cola is the elixir of eternal youth

    Slightly antagonist answers if I am feeling feisty:
    I don’t want to look like an idiot
    Is it compulsory?

    The best (and most honest) I have given is “It doesn’t suit me anymore”.

    1. I have started to say “it doesn’t suit my lifestyle anymore” which I read was Danielle Cormak’s response. Its just so true, I couldnt possible do the things I now do if I were drinking!

    2. I’ve had some clown go into a big rant, explaining how you can drink on antibiotics and can I show him something that says otherwise.
      It’s a real battle sometimes

    3. I really like that answer too…. “it just doesnt suit me anymore”… wow, its personal, not threatening and honest. I am going to use that one – thank you for sharing.

    4. Good answers – choose to suit the company and your mood. Like the ones designed to confuse esp the one about dying faeries ( trouble is, if I said that to some if my friends, they’d think I was serious!!)

  3. The problem I find with being a male non-drinker at blokey events is I get invited ONCE. Obviously the blunt truth ensures a non-inclusion next time, this is handy if you find the company disagreeable.

    However, even the most diplomatic response to the the non-drinker challenge puts a black mark against the sober male.

    Parked in the back of many a drinker’s unconscious is the threat a male non-drinker poses.

    In my experience, woman in male company for some reason get a pass on not drinking.

    How do I know this? It’s exactly how I felt as drinker when confronted by a non-drinker in my midst – they were as welcome around me as a fart in the elevator. They were my Taliban.

    And why wouldn’t drinkers be threatened? As the evening wears on and more booze is consumed the gulf between the boozers reality and mine grows. Staying out at 3am is tiresome unless you’re with booze buddies.

    The problem I have is finding a group of like minded people I like who don’t reject me because I don’t drink.

    I’m an atheist, so I have no time for church groups or AA, which is a problem because that’s where you find most groups of non-drinkers.

    1. Hi there, you share some great insights! I just wanted to share something with you. I teach alcohol and drugs to medical students (oh, the irony!) so I know a wee bit about AA, and I send my students there also to see what goes on. The remit of AA is based on a ‘higher power’ rather than a religious figure such as a god. It might be helpful to think of it as simply the power that alcohol can have over the self. What it means for a person is a way to say ‘this is bigger than me, and its hard to control’. So, AA meetings are not religious. The sponsorship that AA offers can be a lifesaver for some (say, at wine o clock when you fancy a bevvy and can call your sponsor for wise words of support!). Good luck and hang in there!

  4. I love my sister Maria’s standard response to “why aren’t you drinking?” She says “Because I’m funnier, more intelligent, and far better looking without it!” And how true it that?

    1. I’m new to this website and love the tools and ideas that you all have to share. Thank you and look forward to each new day of sobriety.

    2. That is a goody SueK! Gonna have to pinch it. I have a 50th birthday party on Saturday that i won’t be drinking at – hope someone asks me why I’m not

  5. After agonizing for ages how to explain why I don’t drink anymore, I was asked recently and I answered easily and naturaly ” well I figured I drunk my life’s quota in my 20s and 30s, so I decided to give it up”
    The person just accepted that! :)

  6. I actually broke up with a guy I was dating for 8 months because everything we did together revolved around alcohol. I got really really drunk several times we were together, and had full blown horrible hangovers for the first time in YEARS! I finally woke up one morning and realized I had to leave that relationship. It was pulling me in deeper and deeper, and I got out. That was at the end of March, and then on May 29 I had my last glass of wine. Since then, several things have happened that have been difficult to deal with, but I have managed to get through them without drinking any alcohol. Now my confidence to cope has been bolstered, and I know that alcohol is a crutch I no longer need. I love going to bed without a headache from red wine, and I LOVE waking up refreshed.

  7. In general the question rarely comes up for me at parties. However, about a month ago it did, and indeed it was a probing one. The person acknowledged that I had quit several months ago but then asked if I saw myself ever drinking again or if there might be a time in the future when I would consider moderating. At first I was put off by the question and felt awkward as the question seemed probing and I was not sure I liked that, but then I decided this person is a friend and cares about me and really they are just curious probably because they are thinking about it themself. In the end I was open and honest, and said I don’t know for sure, I have this debate with myself on a somewhat frequent basis, but what I do know, is that I am not going to drink today. After that I talked a little about some of the positve things that not drinking has done for me. Such as the improved quality of my sleep. my increased perfomance at work and how I know with certanity that I am not going to wake up with a hang over the next day.

    1. Liam I like that. I can’t get it in my head how I’m going to deal with the future. I definitely have to really think about it a lot more. But for now I agree, it is good to say “not today”

  8. Here’s my two cents. I’m just going to tell it like it is to the people who really matter in my life. “I’m not drinking because I will eventually end up drinking every evening. I don’t want to do that anymore, so I’m nipping it in the bud”. I remember awhile back a guy was working on our house. At the end of the day I offered him a beer. He said, “no thanks, if I have one I’ll want 23 more”. I thought, well good for him for not drinking then. I think people react best to honesty, don’t you?

  9. I usually say “nah…I don’t drink anymore” Sometimes I also say ” I don’t have a stop button when it comes to alcohol!” I find people usually respect your honesty and some actually admire you by adding “oh..I wish I could do that” and “good on you!” Unfortunately in NZ being a tee-totaller is in the minority but don’t think of yourself as different…think of yourself as unique! It takes a lot of strength to make a change and can be so scary but believe me, it’s soooo worth it!

  10. When asked why I’m not taking a drink, I just say ‘health reasons’. They normally leave it at that.

    I went to a dinner party last Saturday evening where all of my friends were drinking wine before dinner, with dinner and drinks following dinner. One of my friends remarked “I miss the old [insert name] she was much more fun! There was dead silence around the table and then hubby says, ‘Oh she’ll be back at it soon”! (I haven’t told my husband that I don’t intend to go back to drinking. He just thinks that I’ve had some stomach issues and as soon as I get them sorted out, I’ll be back on the wine. My husband is alcohol dependent and he likes it when I drink. I felt immense pressure at first and then I just shook it off. I think everyone of them woke up to an ‘immense’ hangover and I didn’t :)

  11. The truth. I simply say “No thank you.” If further information is requested I say “I don’t want to.” That’s all anyone gets. It’s all they’re entitled to (if that much). It’s my personal business. No one else’s.

  12. Today is my first day on this site and it has been so helpful, thanks.
    Dreading this question becuase I am basically defined by alcohol by most that know me. some great suggestions here, I was thinking “I realised I am not enjoying it anymore”. I will get inner pleasure out of how much of an understatment that really is no matter the response!

  13. I avoided pubs and avoided boozy mates when I first gave up .. as I was fed up of having to justify why I diont drink, I made the usual excuses, not well, medication, didnt feel ,like it, Im driving , but now I dont make any excuses because Im proud i dont drink, so I say it. I DONT DRINK ,

  14. Kia ora everyone, another phrase a friend of mine uses when offered a drink is “oh no thanks, it doesn’t agree with me”. People tend to leave it at that. Works well for her. Keep it up everyone – great to read your posts!

  15. Hi , I just say to people , “Im an alcoholic and Im proud to be one” you should see the looks on some peoples faces ! The more I say it the better it gets n sounds ! PROUD TO BE AN ALCOHOLIC !

    1. Fair enough Wekagirl. You’re brave, as people often misunderstand what you’re saying. I had considered it myself, but reckon it’s just too confronting for most people – even friends. Proud to recognise your alcoholism/dependence too!! There are heaps of people who recognise the ill-effects of drinking but haven’t the strength to take the first step – recognising and acknowledging. Poor them. You Go girl!

  16. Hi,
    I’m not sure if I’m posting in the right section here but I felt the need to get this out and this section (socialising sober) seemed fitting enough.
    I am in my late 30s and have drank all my life in “social” situations like “normal” folk. What no one realises (except my husband) is the guilt, angst and depression I go through in the 3 days after a drinking occasion. I have just woken up and finally come out of that horrible time after a drinking session on Saturday night there (it’s now Wednesday morning)…..and I am so relieved to be back in the real world.
    Before my drink on sat night, I had been sober for 35 days, I stopped on Friday the 6th of Jan, and I was feeling great, making progress in my life with regards to dealing with my feelings about things from the past, etc. However on Saturday I did a complete u-turn in my thinking and started to think “well, it’s the long February weekend, everyone’s treating themselves, I can rest all day Sunday, why not have a good drink and then that’s it done and I can go back to my nice sober life”. But it doesn’t work like that. I’ve lost 3 whole days and I hate that. That’s not what I want for my life. So I’m back to being sober and I’m so relieved about that however what do I do when the next holiday comes up? How do I get through family parties without drinking? My family are big drinkers and they don’t seem to suffer like I do.
    Thanks for reading/listening, it’s good to get it out.

    1. I just recently started drinking after six years of sobriety. I can relate to the guilt, angst and depression. It is awful! My problem is I stopped working the program about a year ago. I don’t remember it being a conscious decision, I just stopped. I can’t even remember the day I stopped. But I regret it more than anything. You seem like you are truly committed. It is so hard, but it can be done. Good luck and God bless.

  17. I have been saying that I’m not drinking for my health and alcohol is a little like chocolate for me, it’s just much easier for me to not have any than it is to just have one. Almost everyone I said that to nodded in agreement.

  18. I’m just honest and say I don’t drink alcohol anymore and I feel so much better since I gave it up. It’s a personal response and no one can question how I feel. Good friends will be pleased for you, drinkers will go on the defensive because it makes them question their habits. I know what to expect now and feel more confident each time I am asked why I’m not drinking.

  19. “It doesn’t serve me anymore”. I like that one. Simple, and honest without revealing that by “serve” you mean that in fact, you weren’t in charge of it… and that is the best reason to quit.

  20. Here’s a good one ” last time I drank I abused my hubby, spewed in the shower, was late for work and acted like a taniwha around my babettes…I’m off it for tonight”….or pull the old ” I’m dry for a month, raising money for cancer”.

  21. Well I just joined this community and it’s nice to see others dealing with similar issues. I have gone back and forth on limiting or stopping drinking several times and over several years. For me I find I can limit my drinking just fine around some people (family, certain friends) but really struggle with other friends and especially when out at bars. Hoping to avoid those triggers while staying dry for a while, not sure yet how long. I don’t feel ready to tell everyone about my decision, which makes it trickier. In the past I’ve taken weeks off from alcohol, and a month once, and I remember feeling constantly pestered about it and like I was missing out. Granted, my social life is strongly linked to alcohol and this feels like the biggest obstacle for me in committing to a lifestyle change. I’ve spoken to my husband who is supportive, but it’s nice to know I can write in here for support too without fear of judgment!

  22. I can absolutely totally understand this perspective of not fitting in because you are a non drinker. I gave up my boozy life 5yrs ago, and my husband did so last November. He feels the same as you. We are also athiests and find it hard to find down to earth non drinkers to socialise with.

    I also remember how anti I was toward any non drinkers when I was party central, so I understand the mind of those who enjoy drinking.

    We need a platform to meet fellow atheist soberhoods.

    Best of luck.

  23. Hello, I’m new here and have loved reading through some posts and comments. I have had a few goes at stopping, this time feels different. Back in Feb when out for dinner I ordered a mocktail – one friend asked if I was pregnant which almost caused me to spit out my delicious drink! She couldn’t think of any other reason not to drink…

    A dad on my son’s rugby team told us he hadn’t had a hangover in 5.5 years, following it with “I had management issues with it so I quit.” I thought that said it perfectly and meant no-one probed deeper.

    I have a weekend away (rugby tour, our first one!) next weekend and know my husband and I have been asked to go because we are ‘party people’. We hardly know the other parents so I’m pretty nervous about the attention I’m likely to receive. Thank you for all these suggestions, I’m looking forward to trying something out…determined to own this and be proud.

  24. Some comebacks … I have developed an allergic reaction to hangovers… I choose life! Saving money to buy a mansion. Starting a retirement fund. Tired of being broke and living month to month….

  25. Here is one response I used recently at a conference when asked if I drink at all? “Oh sure, I used to, but awhile back I went on a diet that eliminated all sugar and alcohol and I haven’t picked the habit back up” That one flowed amazingly well and the response was a simple “good for you!”.

  26. Put a positive spin on it: “yes, I’d love a drink!” “I’ll have 3/4 club soda, 1/4 cranberry juice, on the rocks with a twist of lemon! Thank you!”

  27. Im going to say it upsets my stomach, like on those ads for Gaviscon or whatever, which is true. (Just wont mention its because Ive drunk so much in the past my stomach feels like acid has nearly disintegrated the lining)…But it feels fine without booze and I can still eat hot curries, whew, now that I would HATE to have to give up!!

  28. My inspiration to remain successful is knowing my new and only granddaughter will never see her Nana drunk and will only every know me sober and loving.

  29. I tell people I don’t drink anymore because it gives me anxious hangovers and I prefer to wake up with a clear head in the morning.
    Honest truth

  30. I’ve always worried about what people will think of me if I don’t drink, but the older I get, the more I realise no one really gives a shit about it except me. Most people aren’t out to get trashed like me, so they don’t put that much thought into the consumption of alcohol.

    1. You are so right! Not sure what I will say next time we get together with friends. I’m sure they will notice because I always drink at gatherings, way too much. I can’t worry about that now and my husband doesn’t drink so that makes it easier.

    2. I totally agree, and as I said in another post, i find it very surprising! Possibly because I actually would have been one of those people who would try to get someone to drink – obviously in a bid to find drinking buddies!