How Do I Answer When Someone Asks Me Why I Don't Drink?
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When someone is on their recovery journey and fully committed to their sobriety, they may still find themselves in a social situation where alcohol is being served and the host offers them a drink. Some people may dread the potential awkwardness of this situation so much that they avoid going out entirely. In reality, this situation doesn't have to be awkward. 

It doesn't even have to be a big deal. However, it can help if you prepare yourself for this circumstance and consider how you're going to respond ahead of time. It's also important to recognize that it is completely up to you to decide if you want to share about your recovery journey and, if so, how much. You don't owe anyone the details of your history or your current sobriety journey. 

How Do I Determine if It Is the Right Time for Me to Share? 

When you are put in a situation in which someone is offering you a drink and you are trying to think of a polite way to refuse, it's important for you to consider what type of setting you are in. For example, are you at an intimate dinner party with people you know well and trust, or are you are a large public gathering with strangers who don't know you or what you've been through in your past? 

If your situation is the latter, it may not be the right setting for you to open up about the details of your recovery. It is important to also take into consideration the person who is asking why you don't drink. Are they curious for their own gain and desire to spread gossip, or do they actually care about your answer? 

If you don't think that this person is looking out for your best interest, or you simply don't want to get into the details of your recovery journey in front of others, it can help to be prepared with some different responses. 

How Do I Politely Decline an Alcoholic Beverage? 

There are many ways that you can decline a drink while in recovery. One option is to tell the truth, and say that you are in recovery and leave it at that. It doesn't need to be a long, drawn-out explanation. However, if this is not something that you're comfortable with doing, there are a lot of other things that you can say to politely decline a drink. Some examples include: 

  • I'm not drinking because I'm taking a type of medication right now that cannot be mixed with alcohol. 
    • This is quick and to the point. Because there can be serious health hazards involved with mixing certain medications with alcohol, the individual should be understanding and avoid pushing any further.
  • I'm not drinking because I'm trying to get back into shape.
    • There are a lot of empty calories and sugars involved with alcohol, so it makes sense that someone trying to lose weight or get fit would abstain from alcohol.
  • I'm not drinking because I have to be up early in the morning.
    • Nobody wants to risk feeling hungover on a day when they have to do something early in the morning, so this should be a perfectly understandable response. 
  • I'm not drinking because I don't like the person that I become when I drink.
    • Not everyone has an enjoyable experience when they consume alcohol. Some become angry or sad. This is an easy way to shut down the person asking why you aren't drinking without leaving much room for additional questions. 
  • I'm not drinking because I'm the designated driver.
    • This is not only an easy response but a good way to earn favor with the individual asking since they know they will have access to a safe ride home at the end of the night. 
  • I'm not drinking because I have a family member with a substance use disorder. 
    • Alcoholism can be passed down genetically, which can cause those who grew up with an alcoholic family member to not want to drink as an adult. 

What Do I Do if the Person Keeps Pressing Me? 

Ideally, as an adult, this individual should accept any response that you give for not drinking and respect you and your boundaries. In the case that they do continue to press you for more information or they ask additional questions, you can simply say that you aren't comfortable with this topic of conversation and try to change the focus to something else. Hopefully, they will get your drift and move on. If they don't do this, even after you have expressed your discomfort, then it may be time for you to remove yourself from this conversation.

It's possible that during your recovery journey you'll find yourself in a social situation in which someone offers you an alcoholic beverage. They might be completely well-meaning and have no idea that you are sober. While this can seem like an awkward situation, it doesn't have to be. There are lots of ways to politely decline a drink and respond to the question of why you're not drinking without making a big deal about it. If you're comfortable with this individual, you can tell them the truth and explain that you are in recovery. However, it's important to remember that it is totally up to you what you share and how much you share. You don't owe anyone an explanation. If you or someone you know are struggling with alcohol, our team at The Ho Tai Way can help. Call (714) 581-3974 to learn more about our services.