Saying NO to alcohol doesn’t have to be complicated. You just need a few strategies in your back pocket to use when the time comes.
10 Ways to Say NO to Alcohol at a Party or Elsewhere
Next time you’re at a party or anywhere that you feel the pressure to have a drink, consider one of these ways to say NO to alcohol.
1. Be Honest About Your Reasons for Not Drinking
If asked why you don’t want a drink, give a reason. Be honest about your reasons for not drinking; a friend will understand. You don’t have to go into a long story or all the details behind your reasons for not drinking. A simple “I’m sober” should do.
2. Prepare a Generic Excuse
You have the right to say no. When someone offers you a drink, politely decline and be firm about it. Be kind but firm. Your “no” should be polite and confident, not rude or aggressive. Keep your responses brief and non-confrontational. Come up with a generic excuse like: “I have to wake up super early tomorrow,” or “I’m still hungover from last night,” or “I have an appointment early in the morning.”
3. Pretend You’re Drinking With a Mocktail
Nowadays, bars, restaurants, and events have a lengthy list of mocktail offers. If you don’t want to explain your reasons for not drinking, consider getting a mocktail to fool everyone into assuming you’re already enjoying a delicious cocktail. When asked if anyone wants another drink, you can raise your glass with an “I’m all set”. What others don’t need to know is that you’re actually sipping on lime-infused soda water.
4. Let the Bartender Know You’re Not Drinking
Sometimes, you don’t have an accountability partner to steer you away from drinking. When this happens, let the bartender know you’re not drinking. There’s no need to leave more explanations. Even if you later meet someone, the bartender will know not to serve you drinks.
5. Change the Subject
When the subject is still too uncomfortable for you, change the subject. Talk about something else. A simple “I don’t know” and changing the subject entirely will be enough to derail your group’s conversation to something other than your drinking.
6. Keep Your Hands Busy
Keep your hands busy. If you’re at a social event where alcohol is provided, have something to do with your hands. When holding a glass of water or iced tea, it’s easy for people to assume that you are drinking alcohol and offer it to you. You can also keep an object in one hand (hello fidget spinners) and use the other hand for eating and socializing.
7. Say You’re On Medications
The easiest and perhaps most effective way to say no without giving many details is to blame it on medications. Antibiotics, painkillers, and even cold and flu medications are known to have interactions with alcohol. Say you’re currently taking medications that interact with alcohol, and that’s why you’re skipping the drinks today.
8. Say You’re On a Diet
Another option is to say you’re on a diet. Alcohol has tons of calories, and it’s usually one of the first things people get rid of when trying to lose weight. If someone asks why you’re not drinking, state that you recently started working towards a weight loss goal and are committed to reaching it.
9. Blame It On Your Budget
Sometimes, especially if you’re in a bar, blaming the price of alcohol as the reason for not drinking. If your friends insist on buying you a drink, you can always push back and remind them of other reasons you’re not drinking. You could say that you’re starving and just need something to eat first.
10. Become the Designated Driver
You can always say that you’re the designated driver. That way, it’s not up to you to decide whether or not someone gets drunk. If your friends insist on going out and drinking, offer to be the designated driver so that you won’t be drinking.
You Can Learn to Say NO to Alcohol in an Assertive Way
You’re not alone if you think it’s difficult to say no. If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where your boss, parents, or friends are pressuring you into drinking and you feel like there is no good way out, know you’re not alone.
There are many simple ways to say no without feeling pressured or guilty about it.
If you know that you could be more assertive in your approach to saying no to alcohol, try one or two of these techniques next time you’re at a social event or party where there will be lots of drinking. Remember, it’s not about being perfect – it’s about improving.