How to Tell People You Don’t Want a Drink

Declining Drinks

You’re a different person today than who you were before you completed your rehab. And while you’re now a sober individual, that doesn’t mean that everyone around you will be.

Once you’ve become confident in your sobriety, you might start to feel comfortable enough to begin attending events or social gatherings where alcohol may be present. This can be stressful — you’ve been told time and time again to be mindful of your addiction, and now, you may be willfully exposing yourself to potential relapse triggers.

To ease your anxiety so that you can function in a social situation where there’s alcohol, we’ve created a shortlist of ways that you can tell others around you that you no longer drink:

 “I Don’t Drink Anymore”

While addiction is never something to be ashamed of, how much you disclose about your addiction recovery is up to you. If you’re comfortable sharing the entire truth, then you shouldn’t hide it.

It’s okay to let people know that you had a problem with drinking. You can even tell them how long you’ve been sober or tell them about your experience at rehab. Others may be curious about your recovery journey, and you shouldn’t hesitate to speak openly if that’s something you feel ready to do.

“I Don’t Like Who I Am When I Drink”

For many of us, this is an honest and simple response. One of the goals of addiction recovery is to better yourself and your life. While you are still implying a negative relationship with alcohol, people tend to respect that you’re making the effort to better yourself and will not push further.

“I’m Not Drinking Tonight”

If someone asks if you don’t drink, you can simply tell them, “not tonight.” Even though you aren’t drinking at all, this response is an honest way to deny a drink without having to delve deeply into talking about your lifelong sobriety goals or battles with the disease of addiction.

“I’ll Just Have a Coke/Water/Ginger Ale/Etc.”

If someone asks you if you’d like a drink, just request something non-alcoholic. Sometimes, requesting a non-alcoholic drink is easier than denying the request for a drink altogether.

“I’m Driving”

If you’re not ready to tell others about your sobriety or past addiction, it’s okay to tell others that you’re being a responsible, sober driver. Many won’t question this reasoning and will have respect for someone who is taking responsibility for the safety of others.

Remember: Never Sacrifice Your Sobriety for Others

If you find that someone will not accept your denial of a drink, then it’s okay to remove yourself from the situation. You should never sacrifice your sobriety to appease others who don’t have your best interests at heart. If you feel anxiety due to an upcoming event where you think you may be exposed to your triggers, speak with a peer in your sober community or a treatment professional to figure out how to move forward without jeopardizing your recovery.

If you ever feel uncomfortable going to an event that has alcohol, it’s okay to avoid the event. And if a friend wants to go out for drinks, you can suggest going out for coffee or lunch instead.

As always, if you need additional support, we encourage you to take advantage of the resources made available to you by The River Source Alumni Program.

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Welcome to The River Source, the place where new beginnings are created. We commend you for taking the first step in your recovery, and we want you to know that we are here for you.