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Socialising Sober

July 24, 2014 337 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. 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

  2. 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!!”

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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”.

  6. 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).

  7. 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 … .

  8. 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 :)

  9. I’m only just embarking on my Living Sober journey, but I’ve thought about this long and hard – for me peer pressure will be one of the biggest challenges both personally and professionally. I’ve taken the view that true friends will understand and support me and those ‘friends’ that can’t or won’t are part of the problem, not the solution.

    I’m going to be honest with anyone who asks me but not force it down the throats of those that don’t. Giving up is a personal choice and isn’t right or necessary for everyone. I would love to be able to have a ‘casual drink’ every now and again but I can’t. Once I start I keep going! So I’m going to stop starting.

    For me I’m excited about the challenge but worried about how I’ll manage. Being straight up with people will be a great help – the more of my friends and family that know what I’m doing the harder it will be for me to go back…..

  10. 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!

  11. I’m going skiing this weekend with friends and my kids. 1. I don’t know how to ski. 2. They are big, big drinkers. 3. I’m not worried about drinking, but I’m worried about peer pressure because the last time that I tried to stop, they were, ummm…jerks. They don’t know about this time, and I haven’t told them, and they keep texting me about apres ski, and drinking and chardonnay and beers with lunch and wine with dinner and boozy coffee,…and I’m already nervous about skiing (my kids have never been skiing either) , and this is making it not fun to think about. Also, I tried to say all that stuff that everyone is recommending, but it did not stop the CONSTANT, CONSTANT comments that actually made me cry (not in front of anyone). Sooooo….

    1. Sorry to disappoint but I cannot for the life of my understand why you would want to go on this holiday with those people ??? It would seriously frighten me to death. Take care xx

    2. Skiing is great, it’s a shame you have to go with jerks. Try asking them why they are pestering you to drink. If you don’t drink the wine isn’t it more for them? They are big drinkers, so unless they are also very thick they will know it’s not so good for them, so remind yourself it’s not you that’s the problem – it’s their guilt.
      And wake them up early with lots of cheerful noise – that’ll really piss them off.
      Ignore the boozers – bend your knees and go for it!

    3. If it is easier to tell a white lie for now that’s what I’d do. On antibiotics or something would do. It’s a shame these friends can’t see what a positive choice you are making (possibly because seeing you quit makes them reflect on their own unhealthy relationship with alcohol).

  12. 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! :)

  13. 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”

  14. I am going to say that whatever is in beer makes my sinuses go crazy. My ears itch and my nose runs, too and I have crust in my eyes. Too much information? Ha ha, NO REALLY.

    1. lol, reminded me of a wedding I went to recently. The best man stood up to make his speech…says ” I had a few lines I prepared earlier…………..but I snorted them” I guffawed, but others not so much :-))

  15. When I stopped drinking my high blood pressure returned to normal and has remained that way. No more medication.
    That was motivation enough, and had no trouble telling friends that.
    No-one cared if you drank or not. No-one even notices.

  16. 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.

  17. 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. 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!

    2. 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.

  18. 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 ,

  19. Hi I am very interested in this thread as I love socialising (& not just for the boozy stuff!) I never go “to the pub” because even when drinking, it doesn’t appeal to me but I like going out for dinner with friends (which always included cocktails and/or wine) and I am worried I will be “missing out”……. How sad, rather than just enjoy the lovely food!!

    I get bored of orange/lime and soda and am actively encouraging the local places I frequent to stock more interesting alcohol-free drinks or mocktails; most places welcome the suggestions but a few still have the mind-set “but most people just drink wine with dinner”

    That’s the problem there – I am not “most people”, one glass of wine leads to one bottle +

    1. I too am nervous about socializing sober. My girlfriends and I get together about once a month and there is always lots of booze involved. My sisters and I drink wine together every Sunday and I’m nervous about that as well. This past Sunday was a breeze as I’m feeling pretty focused on this but as the week goes on I’m not feeling as strong. All I can do is take one day at a time. I think I will tell my friends I am doing a cleanse until I am comfortable enough to tell them my real reason.
      I am pretty proud of myself today, though. Was at a work function and planned to leave at 4pm before the booze started to flow. Well the booze (free booze at that) started flowing at 2pm. I’d be lying if I said my mouth didn’t start to water at the sight of red wine, vodka, and margaritas but i fought thtough it and sm still AF. sightsight

  20. 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!

  21. 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!!

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

    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.

  24. 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’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

    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.

    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!!)

    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!

  25. 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.