You would think it’d be no big deal to tell the people around you that you’ve decided to stop drinking. After all, if you suddenly announced you were on a diet or quitting smoking, no one else would care, right? In fact, they might even be supportive. Yet somehow, booze is different.
Alcohol has become so ingrained in our culture that not drinking – i.e. not pouring a toxic, liquid poison down your neck every night – is considered unusual. A bit weird. Not cool. Sobriety has an image problem and for those of us who don’t drink, it’s really, really annoying.
When you’re trying to quit, the absolute last thing you need is a barrage of questions about it, especially if you’re not sure what your long term plans are. So what should you say when well meaning friends suggest that ‘just one won’t hurt’? How do you refuse a drink or explain your sobriety when you’re not quite ready to tell all? Here are 5 tips for navigating this situation:
Keep it simple.
If people ask questions, then often a simple “I’m not drinking tonight” or “I just don’t feel like drinking” is enough. Your drinking is your business and no one else’s, so don’t feel that you need to justify your behaviour or launch into some long explanation.
Prepare a white lie (or two).
At the risk of contradicting the point above, it is worth having a response prepared in case someone just won’t let it go or keeps pestering you to drink. There are loads of things you can say: I’m on a diet, I’m on a health kick, I don’t feel very well, I’ve got to be up early, I’m really tired etc, etc. Nowadays, it’s also really common to take a month off from drinking as a challenge or to raise money for charity.
Be the designated driver.
If you drive, start taking the car everywhere. You can’t drink and drive – everyone knows that. One of the things I love most about sobriety is being able to arrive when I want and leave when I want. No more messing about with taxis or having to depend on other people for a lift.
Get your own drink or buy the first round.
Be in control of your liquids and choose them wisely. Something like fizzy water or tonic water is good because if it’s served in a nice glass, it will easily pass for something stronger. Plus, it means that if you are offered alcohol, you can say no because you already have a drink in your hand.
Set the tone.
You can show up and create a terribly awkward experience for yourself by feeling shameful and embarrassed. Or, you can choose to adopt more of an ‘I-don’t-give-a-damn’ attitude and show everyone how it’s done. Remember, most people will never do what you’re doing – they’ll never be brave enough to put down their glass and work out how to have fun, stone cold sober. So don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re the odd one out; you’re just way ahead of the game. You’ve made the decision not to drink and that’s amazing – now make sure you own it!
Got any tips to share?
I’d love to hear how you’ve dealt with this situation. What’s been your experience? Please let us know your thoughts and advice in the comments below.