The music is loud, the atmosphere is fun, and the people are starting to get tipsy. If you’ve decided that you don’t want to drink at a party—whether because you’re a designated driver or for another reason—you need to have a strategy for turning down drinks. Here are some ways you can do so.
Polite Turn Downs
Usually, others don’t care if you drink or not—they just want to have a good time. Meeting the offer of a drink with a polite, “No, thank you” should suffice. If the one offering replies to your refusal with something like a teasing, “Ah, come on. Join the fun!”, you may need to offer a gentle excuse. Something like, “I’m driving later” or “I don’t need a drink to have fun” ought to clearly communicate that you intend to stick to your original response. Wikihow lists more polite excuses you can use to turn down a drink.
If you don’t want to draw attention to yourself because you are not drinking, you need to plan ahead. Are you meeting up with friends at a bar or restaurant later? One tip for avoiding alcohol is to arrive early at the meeting place and have a chat with the bartender or waitress. They can serve you drinks that look alcoholic but are nothing of the sort. If someone wants to try your drink, you might say that you think you’re catching a cold or simply that you’re not comfortable sharing.
If the gathering is at a person’s home, you can still use the sneaky method. Bring your own drink. Or, since home parties often have nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages set out in the same area, you can serve yourself a nonalcoholic drink when no one is looking.
Someone who is in constant conversation can hardly stop for a drink; usually this person ends up holding a full drink until he runs out of stories. If you are the type who can keep busy chatting as you hold what might look like an alcoholic drink, no one will offer you another one.
Of course, if being a chatterbox is not one of your talents, you can do other things to seem too busy to pause for a drink. Take photographs with your friends. Parties in private homes are always messy, so you can tidy a few things up. Get involved in a game that doesn’t involve alcohol. If you are sitting in a restaurant, you can doodle on your napkin. The point is that people who are busy doing something else are less likely to stand out if they are not drinking.
Sometimes, polite refusals and sneakiness don’t cut it when it comes to turning down alcohol. Once in a while, someone comes along armed with the club of peer pressure. When this happens, be ready to hit back with the same amount of force. One insightful blogger listed how she deals with the pressure to drink. She doesn’t pull punches when it comes to the jerks who try to pour alcohol down her throat, and neither should you.
In order to stand up for your resolve with believable conviction, you must have clearly in mind why you have chosen to avoid drinking. Do you want to avoid a hangover? Are you driving later? Do you not like alcohol? Do you think you have a problem with alcohol? If you or someone you know might have an addiction problem, take a look at this science of drug habits infographic so you understand how a habit might turn into an addiction.
You need to develop skills that enable you to resist peer pressure. Try to understand why people pressure you (they want to excuse their own drinking, they want to feel powerful, etc), and think about the consequences of giving in. Having these things at the forefront of your thoughts you face a difficult situation will help you come out on top.
There are plenty of reasons not to drink, and you know your personal reasons. Use the above strategies to help you stick to your convictions and lead a healthy, sober life.
Hailey is a recent graduate with a degree in Journalism. Now that she isn’t face first in books she is trying to travel as much as she can. She writes in her free time between fixing up her new house and teaching people how to live a longer, healthier life.