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Socialising Sober

July 24, 2014 304 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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304 comments

  1. Maybe I’m just different. I have been telling anyone who will listen that I’m sober. Maybe because my old drinking “buddies” run for the hills. It can be lonely but I’d prefer to be on the lonely side than playing with fire. I’m concentrating on moving on and staying away from temptation. It feels safer that way. 23 days in and I can barely believe how good it feels!

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  2. Pleased I’ve just found this website! I’ve only socialised once and came clean out with it..’I just don’t like drinking anymore so I’ve given up!’ I wouldn’t recommend it. All my friends made me feel like a dick. Things like- you can have a couple can’t you? Or what kind of w###er drinks lemonade? They got over it and even a couple are questioning their habits now and most of my other friends are very supportive and admirable towards me about it!

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    1. Hello John. My first social occasion yesterday evening without alcohol went OK. No-one asked, and I can attribute that partly due to my age (61.) We oldies tend to be more comfy with a broader range of behaviours – particularly ones that affect our health.
      A retired psychotherapist whom I respect greatly (George Sweet) said that the path to depression can begin with oppression (of beliefs or behaviour) which may lead to alienation (by people singling you out for your “aberrant” behaviour) so I reckon that choosing to abstain can be de-socialising if you let it. I really don’t care what people think about me now – but it took a lifetime.

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  3. 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”.

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    1. 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

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    2. 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.

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    3. 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!!)

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    4. 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!

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  4. There is such a strong drinking culture in the UK and I think that social situations can be tricky. But really we do not need to explain ourselves to anyone (if we don’t want to). I find it shocking that people we hardly know feel that they have the right to ask such personal questions. I am still pretty new to all this, but I don’t feel that I have to open myself up to strangers. I simply say something along the lines of “I prefer to have a soft drink – busy day tomorrow”…..With friends, it is different. But I’m still not ready to talk about it. I was recently on medication so I was able to legitimately use that reason, but now that I’m not, I don’t really want to lie. I will cross that bridge when I come to it. With friends, we should feel able to be ourselves, so hopefully this won’t be an issue. And in time, I may change my mind about what I am prepared to say to people. I also like “I’m avoiding empty calories at the moment”. Not much to argue with there! I lost 3 stone over 18 months ago, and I will never allow myself to gain that weight back so this is not a lie.

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  5. After 2 years I still don’t really know what to say! I find that people just don’t really ask at all or they just figure I’m not drinking because I have two young kids and am just that responsible (ha). If I am asked I just say I don’t drink. I actually had someone push the question recently asking ‘why’ and I said I used to drink too much and he laughed and basically made the comment of there’s no such thing and walked away (problem solved for me!). I have only recently told people that I actually quit drinking so now I think people realize it was pretty serious. I still just generally say that drinking was holding me back from what I wanted to do. Still haven’t found an answer that I’m totally comfortable with!

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  6. I have said “no thanks, Im allergic to it”….. it has a ring of truth without having to lye your sole on the line to people you dont know/know you very well.

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    1. I read an interview with Danielel Cormak recently, she states she had to give up drinking as it didn’t fit in with her lifestyle anymore. Nice.

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  7. “I was a dick when I used to drink. Believe me its better for the both of us if I don’t drink!”

    But seriously, I just don’t go out. Why go back into the lion’s den every weekend?

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    1. I too struggle with what to say to people in social situations. Why is so hard for people to accept that you don’t want a drink? . I have been in court many times due to alcohol related issues, mainly fighting drunk and disorderly etc etc. All these times was because I couldn’t control how much I drank, and I would get aggressive and angry with people or situations. I was brought up in a big drinking environment where it was celebrated that you all got drunk and had a great time. The government’s need to take a role in trying to prevent people from getting this far into an addiction. Price availability need to be addressed. And health issues caused by alcohol should take precedent over corporate greed! But we all know it doesn’t.

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  8. 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!

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  9. I say that it doesn’t agree with me…and if the person clearly wants more elaboration, that it .gives me migraines and insomnia (both of which are true but of course never used to stop me before lol)

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    1. Ditto that, I was exactly the same. My body did a great job getting me booze free. The memory remains very fresh of the last 3 day monster hangover and that would be 4 years ago or more.

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  10. When people ask why I’m not drinking, I say that I’m rubbish at it. I say that if I don’t drink it doesn’t bother me but if I start I don’t know when to stop. My off button doesn’t work, I don’t think I’m getting drunk so I carry on until I can’t talk and I fall over, so best not to start. I laugh, and to be fair, most people I know have probably seen that scenario so know it to be true. Most of the time they say things like, ‘fair play, good on you, I couldn’t do it’. Actually makes me feel proud, rather than embarrassed or ashamed. It also helps that I have lost weight and look so much better than I did. I’m on day 126 now and feeling fantastic.

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    1. Thanks for the idea – Im one year sober and still having managed to come up with a satifactory way of explaining why Im not drinking!!! Im going to use your one :)
      Ditto on the feeling proud bit too.

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    2. That’s awesome to be so straight up and honest …. That’s exactly what I’ve been saying to my friends…. That I’m a dick when I drink because I can never stop at one…. Anyone who knows me has seen me at my slurry “best” so quite easy to fess up. My hubby has quit also to support me so he chimes in to back me up … It’s nice

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  11. A woman I once knew said she didn’t drink because it gave her terrible headaches and I’ve always admired that reason as it is so free of anything tangible and was, at the same time, unassailable, who would want to give her a headache? And the story also allowed the possibility that she could be cured at any time.

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  12. I’m shy but pretty straight up if asked why I’m not drinking…. I say I no longer drink alcohol….if they persist I say “some people just shouldn’t drink…., I have THE GENE ” and then laugh. People aren’t bothered and my friends and family have been supportive and awesome. If I’m going out for dinner to friends I take a bottle of Edenvale Bubbly from the liquorstore or Soul Mojitos from New World. At a pub I order Virgin Mojitos or a Mocktail and at home I just make sure there is something cold in the fridge that I can grab at anytime.

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  13. I like to say; I don’t drink. So funny because sometimes they say oh, I thought u did.. I reply I have but I don’t drink. Mostly they just accept it.

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    1. My response to an offer “My body cant handle it anymore,”.If they insists- i say “I drank my share,why do you want to get me sick? You need a sober driver,don’t you?

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  14. I don’t want to drink and drive. Or just no thank you. My favorite is : I don’t drink. Guess it depends on who I am responding to.

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  15. I found it easiest to just be honest with everyone… No one asks me anymore… I told everyone in my social groups that no thank you, I am a raging alcoholic and alcohol isn’t my friend… puts the gossip to bed, and any second guessing, and one or two have said wow, you have courage… guess that after some help from friends my courage came back…

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    1. I was going to just leave the subject alone with my social circle but after reading your post I think I will take your advice. My friends all know anyhow, its not like I am going to be surprising anyone and they will all be supportive.

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    2. Hey Silvie, falling asleep at the dinner table sounds like a skit str8 out of a Monty Python’s Flying Circus show doesn’t it…

      Isn’t it refreshing to look at yourself now, of then, and smile, instead of looking at yourself and hating what you saw you had become… Pride was the one thing missing when I had my troubles… That is the thing I treasure the most now… Pride…

      I don’t know if my comments are too in your face but it I think some might appreciate it…

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    3. Me too, I have just started telling people I’m an alcoholic and I can never drink again. Or I tell people I’m like Mrs D, swap the wine for gin and that’s me. Somehow that makes me feel publicly accountable. Ironically I love the phrase ‘raging alcoholic’ as truth be told I’d usually fall asleep at the dinner table. Not pretty!

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  16. My doctor told me once to say….. ” my doctor has told me I can’t drink for health reasons..” – people normally just shut up and don’t ask anything further after that. Haven’t had to use it yet, still early days, but it could be a goody to use in future.

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  17. Actually I have been having a bit of a laugh with this one, if they are friends, i have just been telling them the truth which goes something along the lines of ‘ ah , i’m over it, I’m sick of feeling like shit the day after, blah blah , it’s making me fat and grumpy so i’m giving it a rest for a while’ – which sometimes leads to the ‘oh, so how long do you think you won’t drink for?’ (jeez if I knew the answer to THAT one!) – to the acquaintances who have known me for years and know that I was a huge drinker, the one who fell over, made a dick of myself time and again and provided them with cheap laughs, they just ask just to be downright nosey and interfering I tell them ‘ oh no i don’t drink anymore, did you not hear the story from the other week? I was becoming really really violent and nasty on it and it got sooo out of hand’ – ooh is that wine? I would LOVE a glass……. – at which point they generally piss off and leave me alone with my Diet Ginger and a sly giggle.

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  18. 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.

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    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 :)

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      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 :)

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  19. I was at a party this weekend and a friend saw my obviously nonalcoholic drink and said “oh, you’re being so good! I didn’t know what to say “No, I’m not”? Yes I am.”? Both seem awkward and I found myself stammering. After just 17 days off the drinks I’m not ready to say I don’t drink anymore, is that wrong?

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    1. Not wrong! Sooner or later you may want to share with good friends why you made this decision. But right now don’t worry: You don’t really owe anyone an “explanation”. After all, I doubt you go around asking people why they ARE drinking.

      Also it’s probably not as big a deal to other people as it feels to you right now: they may ask but 5 min later are probably talking about something else.

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    2. Nope.. do whatever you need to do (including stammering awkwardly) to get through these early days. What you say to others and what they think isn’t important right now.. just focus on you and the amazing job you are doing.. day 17 – whoop!

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  20. Most people are totally cool with it. The ones who are not are my old drinking buddies… a small number who I haven’t yet told. The ones who are not in that crowd have been ace and it is interesting that there is less drink about as it was me organising the opportunities.The more times I say it and tell them straight, the better it feels and the easier. I say that the reason is that ‘I have drunk enough to be honest and it was time to stop’.

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    1. I like that Daniel, straight up and to the point. I do much the same, I just say ‘I don’t drink anymore” and leave it at that, but I say it with a smile and a friendly tone and I haven’t had a bad reaction yet.

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  21. “I’m on a health-kick/diet/cutting back on sugar”, “I’m the sober driver”, “‘m picking up my kids/taking my kid somewhere after this”, “I have a work meeting after this” are some good excuses if you don’t feel like going into detail. With friends On Sat night I told them I’m “cutting down” and that ended up in conversations about how they probably need to cut down too. I’ll save the show-stopper of permanently quitting for when I’m a bit stronger!

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  22. When people ask why I’m not drinking I normally tell people it’s because “I’ve drank a lifetimes worth”. I actually find going into social situations it helps to focus on all the positives about the event now that I ‘m not drinking. I haven’t got to be careful about how much Im going to drink, trying to walk that tightrope of wanting to drink enough to take the edge off without going over the edge and I can remember clearly all the events of the evening clearly and really listen to people.

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    1. I really struggle in social situations and cant always not drink. I often feel like avoiding them (and I do!) I can honestly say to myself that I have had MORE than a persons lifetime of parties.

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  23. “I don’t drink” is perfect. Short and to the point…most people are so wrapped up in their own drinking/selves that they don’t even notice. They are hugely grateful when you can offer them a lift home too at the end of the night :)

    If they persist and ask why then I usually follow it with something like “i’m not such a great person after a few wines, its just easier not to start”. The questions usually dry up quite quickly (esp when their glass is empty and they have only one goal in mind – to get a refill).

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  24. 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?

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    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.

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    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

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  25. I never go into situations without making sure that I have had a meal. Quite often I used to drink to “fill the gap”. Food is really important to me. I also make sure I have a non-alcoholic drink I like and leave if things start to feel a bit difficult.

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    1. Funny isn’t it! — I’ve been to so many corporate events where my focus has been on the wine — and now it’s the food (and the conversation) – usually with the former I could never even remember what the food was (certainly not the dessert) ??!!??

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