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Socialising Sober

July 24, 2014 371 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. My comments vary depending on the audience for sure. One of my favorite ones that I use comfortably with a small group only is (former drinking buddies or those that have seen me trashed is) “nope, thanks, I’m on the wagon”. If pressed “awhh, come on, have one!” I respond with “don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll be off soon enough” said with a grin and wink. It puts it out there in a soft way and if the person asking is a drinker, it is a super easy way to appease them. Most heavy drinkers relate to this well. Note, this response is not appropriate for anyone who thinks it might trigger them or with certain audiences (such as bosses, co-workers, etc!!!). For them it is typically, a confident “no thanks, I’ll have a ____”. You are not drinking? No, thanks, I’m good.

  2. 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?

  3. Anyone ever try “it gives me a headache”? I am thinking of trying that. It is true, I just don’t say “after 4 or 5 of them, I get a headache.”

    I can’t just have one, so “it gives me a headache” seems honest yet not too candid.

    Any thoughts?

  4. One of the things I like to say when people ask me why I’m not drinking is “you’re welcome”. And then laugh it off but in my mind I’m thinking, no, seriously, you’re welcome. Haha.

  5. 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!

  6. Life is so much easier now than seven years ago when I finally went on the wagon.

    Not only are people getting more health conscious about their drinking, we now have built-in excuses such as dry-July, the new 250ml DDI limit but to people who don’t know me I just tell them that I don’t use the stuff any more. No need to be embarassed about it.

  7. If I don’t feel I will be comfortable around the temptation, then I simply won’t go.
    For the most part, I just say “No thanks, I’m not drinking” and leave it at that. I don’t get much pressure.

  8. After a year and a half I am getting more and more honest. Basically I say that I am just too busy for hangovers and am a much better person sober. People are genuinely supportive and now I talk about this wonderful site. The number of people around me giving up is growing……seems lots of people get to their 50s and realise enough is enough.

  9. My boyfriend doesn’t drink either, and his favorite trick is emptying out a beer bottle, washing it, and filling it with water (at someone’s house- don’t try that at a bar). Especially great for newcomers who maybe aren’t ready to explain or have a hard time saying no!

  10. After quitting alcohol, I got really into fitness. When I am with people who I am not comfortable talking about my problem with, I generally stick with the fact that it’s not good for diets and exercise, and people stop asking. Also, I try to drive or offer to drive to social events, people are less curious if you express you just don’t want to drink and drive.

  11. 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.

  12. First party we attended sober was last month. I was completely stressed out and getting ready without my wine glass in hand was torture. after we got there the stress melted away. My first take away was how bad drunk people smell. We snuck out early and nobody noticed they were too smelly and drunk. It felt so good to climb into bed sober and accomplishing a very hard first hurdle. I think you will be surprised once you are there. Drank seltzer and cranberry and no one cared, asked or even noticed.

  13. Well I’m not perfect but must say I’m proud at my small accomplishments thus far. Friends of mine got engaged today and instead of getting swept up in the booze-soaked merriment, I managed to have one celebratory drink for them and then kept to club soda for the rest of the party. To me, that was a success and one that I will build off of to gather confidence and move toward a healthier life away from alcohol’s toxicity.

  14. 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!

  15. I have been hiding in bed for my sober 32 days and am frankly dreading a social meeting this weekend. I wrote about this in the wrong forum but will mention it here cause I could use any help I can get:) I am practicing with my band, and it’s not so much what I will say to them as it is the pressure I will internally feel to drink. It will be a struggle. What do you do when you know you’ll be tempted to drink? Bring special soda? I guess give myself permission to leave early if needed? I’m so happy I’ve found somewhere to go when I’m worried/scared. Thanks for any thoughts:)

    1. I think it is a good idea to take your own special drink if you have to be in alcohol drinking situations, then it is easy to say no thanks, I am drinking this. It has helped me in the past.

    2. I think you have some good ideas – I hope too or what I do for when I feel tempted (on a fri/sat night for me) – is make a commitment/promise/resolve -” tonight I will not drink, I will drink (#special non alcoholic drink#) and eat, and look forward to going to bed sober.” Just even for tonight/today… once you develop the strength to do it once, it will be easier the next time. You can do it, just don’t look for permission from `anywhere’ to not do it ;-). all the best x

  16. I actually haven’t had much of a problem with this, but I decided on an answer if I need it. I will just say, “I discovered that I must be allergic to alcohol. I seem to have a bad reaction to it. I do and say stupid things, fall down, sometimes throw up, and the next day have a terrible headache!!”

  17. I just say, ” I dont want to look old and fat, better start now than later” It’s both a power booster and an insult so people tend to mind their buisness after that.

  18. Ok, I’m 29 days alcohol free and going to a bachelorette party tonight! My plan: bringing my own bottle of sparking pom juice for the toasts, ordering sparkling water at the restaurant/wine bar, sticking close to the heavily pregnant woman who will be there, and giving myself permission to leave early if I’m feeling overwhelmed. Also, my answer if being questioned/pressed will be “on medication.” Feeling confident!

  19. 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”.

  20. A tried and true response so far (after various dud responses and awkward reactions) is I usually say “Nah, I’ve just lost the taste for it. It doesn’t interest me anymore. I’d love a sparkling water though, if there is one!’

    It doesn’t suggest to people (who I don’t really know me well) that there is some deep seated issue (because I’ve found that to be a bit of a downer for those who are Normies just relaxing enjoying themselves) and doesn’t make those in the group who suspect they themselves have a problem feel confronted with their own shit and avoid me there-on-in because I now remind them of a problem they fear they have.

    This usually stops what I call ‘hecklers’ too because it sounds like I’ve made a choice to step away from it for reasons not as serious as they really are (these reasons are reserved for people who care about me, not for someone in a social situation, just asking me what they believe is a simple question).

  21. The easiest get out these days I find is just to say “I’m driving”. Many men laugh and say “You drew the short straw this time did you”… followed by an inappropriate wink or a nudge!

    However frankly… I often just say “I don’t drink”. If anyone persists with pressuring or offering me a drink I just say again “I don’t drink… at all”. Again some will persist until I say “I used to drink. I don’t drink any more at all”.

    In the end I decided to be open about my alcoholism. To hell with the stigmatisation and discrimination – if these are supposedly “friends” would I want them as friends if they don’t accept me as I choose to now be? If they aren’t friends why bother? I’ve yet to directly experience any particular direct discrimination as a result of my alcoholism other than very early on when I was shuffled sideways a bit where I worked when I first got sober. But to be fair they kept my job open when I went into rehab and supported my recovery in many other ways – like allowing me to bend rules about hire cars on foreign trips – it was important to me to have my own car so I always had an easy “escape” route if I needed and so I could easily attend AA meetings when travelling.

    Love Frank’s one above – I’ve a good sober friend in CT who I first heard use that one … .