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Early Sobriety: What to Say When You're Not Drinking

Updated on March 7, 2015

Staying Sober When Others Around You are Drinking

You've decided to stop drinking? Good for you! Whether or not you have used the label "alcoholic," to refer to your consumption of alcohol, giving up spirited beverages is a positive step towards good health.

In fact, many people choose not to drink for a variety of reasons. These include a desire for mental acuity, to achieve fitness goals, to lose weight, to address underlying medical conditions, to get pregnant, etc. Social drinking simply may not be enticing to them. Simply put, you will not be alone in your decision to give up alcohol.

If you are in early sobriety - no matter the basis for your decision - you'll want tips and tools for staying sober when others around you are drinking. The most important thing to remember is that its no body's business what is in your glass except you! In other words, if your friends and colleagues cannot "accept" that you've given up alcohol, then its time to find new people to hang out with!

Most People Won't Urge You to Drink - Some Will

Chances are, you have probably graduated from high school and are beyond the college years. Anyone over the age of 24 likely will not have any peer pressure to drink. And, if you are younger than that, there are plenty of social and academic organizations to which you can belong that do not condone or allow alcohol consumption.

Let's face it - once you are in your mid-20s or older, you need to make responsible decisions. A job, apartment, possibly even a significant other, pet or family means that frequent bouts of drinking, or alcohol binges do not fit into your life. Your peers are growing up, too, and most of them are making good choices as they establish careers and lay a good foundation for their lives. Its time to leave the partying and the partying crowd in the past.

The problem is that people that have alcohol addiction issues have generally surrounded themselves with people that also abuse the drug. These people will be threatened when you stop drinking and will urge you to drink and sabotage your efforts to stay sober.

I'm sorry to say, but you need to find new friends. Whether you join a group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or start attending worship more frequently or volunteer, get together with people with whom you can have fun without booze.

How to Stop Drinking Alcohol

What do you Say to People Asking Why You are Not Drinking Alcohol?

  1. I don't like the taste of alcohol
  2. I'm allergic to alcohol
  3. I'm on medication and cannot drink
  4. I'm having a great time without alcohol
  5. I'm trying to lose weight
  6. I feel great when I don't drink
  7. I'm training for ______ (a marathon, the Olympic trials, Man vs. Food...)
  8. We're planning a family
  9. I don't drink. Period.

Your First Social Outing in Early Sobriety

Its no one's business what is in your glass and, as noted above, most people will not care if you are drinking alcohol or not, unless your decision is threatening to them.

Recovery experts will advise those in early sobriety not to attend social functions unless and until you feel strong enough to withstand urges to consume alcohol. That time period will vary from individual to individual, but likely will not be any sooner than 30 days - the time period it takes to break old habits and start to ingrain new ones.

If you have simply made a lifestyle choice not to drink, you may feel more comfortable and secure in your decision and able to enjoy social outings sooner.

When you venture out for the first time, choose your venue carefully. Dancing and singing karaoke at your local watering hole is probably not a good idea. Attending a retirement party or wedding may be somewhat a better choice, depending on the other guests that are at the party. Consider your potential triggers and be sure to eat a protein-based meal and drink lots of water or other non-alcoholic beverages.

The holidays are more enjoyable when you don't invite booze
The holidays are more enjoyable when you don't invite booze | Source

Alcohol is a Drug

Regardless of your reason for giving up drinking or your usual consumption habits, giving up alcohol will improve your health. We should all know this, but it bears repeating that alcohol is a drug. It is powerful and it acts as a depressant on your mood and nervous system.

Alcohol is addicting, but not everyone that drinks will become an alcoholic. However, if you find yourself craving drinks and making rules concerning when and how much you drink, you are starting to move from the category of "normal" drinker to one with a potential problem.

Why not nip it in the bud and stop drinking now before it impacts your life? You will be in great company. Many successful, powerful people do not drink at all. Those that are truly social drinkers do not drink by themselves and can easily stop at 1 or 2 drinks.

If you are otherwise healthy - choosing organic foods, exercising frequently, perhaps even following a vegetarian diet, it only makes sense that you go 100% drug free.

Give up alcohol and you won't regret it. Continue drinking and you might.

Wishing you all the best in early sobriety. If you know someone that might benefit from this article, be sure to "like" it on Facebook and forward the link to them!

Do You Know How Alcohol Affects You?

Time to go alcohol-free?
Time to go alcohol-free? | Source

© 2011 Stephanie Hicks


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    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Marilyn,

      Congratulations on your long term sobriety! 25 years!!! I have heard people use a similar response as yours. Usually, people who don't know you won't press, as you note. A little bit of humor and lightness definitely help in a social situation.

      Best to you! Stephanie

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image

      Marilyn L Davis 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      I enjoyed your Hub very much. I opened and ran a women's recovery home for more than 20 years and I am getting ready to celebrate 25 years of long-term recovery. Most people knew I was addicted, but those who didn't would sometimes continue to offer me a drink at social functions.

      I would decline politely, but if pressed, I would respond, "I had enough my first 40 years to last a life time, thanks. Could I have either a ginger ale or club soda if you have one of them?"

      Again, well done article. Marilyn

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Steph, Very informative. I've known several people who struggled with sobriety; their family and friends were pretty harsh when they fell off the wagon; I always said that every step counts and helps set a pattern which can and will hold when they're ready.

      Well done.

    • qlcoach profile image

      Gary Eby 

      8 years ago from Cave Junction, Oregon

      Yes, I enjoyed reading your Hub. I understand we are both from Oregon. I live in Cave Junction: Gateway to the Oregon Caves. I also recently retired as a mental health and substance abuse therapist. I've discovered some new approaches to all addictions, which I call helping people experience miracles. Peace and Light: Gary.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 

      8 years ago

      nicely done, stephhicks. I liked the British version of moderate drinking video, except I forget how to do metric conversions! I had never heard beer called alcopop. I usually give a caution when I talk about moderate drinking guidelines though. An alcoholic would love to believe he/she can control/moderate their drinking, and they really can't. So an alcoholic in early sobriety should consider abstinence as the only option! I think it's the non-alcoholic drinkers who are really surprised by the small amount of alcohol that is considered moderate, and how much damage it does! Oh, I liked the video about the effects of alcohol on the body too. All in all, just really well put together steph. Thanks.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Glad you like that one Sylvia! Cheers to you, Steph

    • Sylvia Leong profile image

      Sylvia Leong 

      8 years ago from North Vancouver (Canada)

      Awesome Hub! I especially like: "its no body's business what is in your glass except you!" I'll be using that one!

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks Wendi - I agree! Avoiding alcoholism/staying sober seemed to be a good topic to me, too.

    • Wendi M profile image

      Wendi M 

      8 years ago from New Hampshire

      This is a great hub. Many of my hubs deal with addiction, but none of them contain information about how to avoid the situation.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi chspublish - thank you! Like you, I will often make the decision not to drink before a social gathering. The short-term "fun" of alcohol is not worth the headache or sluggishness the next day. Usually about 1-2 hours into the event, everyone else has forgotten that I'm not drinking and then I can be amused (or annoyed) by the show of their silliness. Its hard not to gloat a bit in the morning. ;-)

    • chspublish profile image


      8 years ago from Ireland

      This is a good hub and a good read because you outline very clearly the long term effects of alcohol. I think we forget, as you said, that alcohol is a drug and it will have an effect one way or other, longterm. I gave up alcohol many years ago and have an occasional drink - maybe once a year. Sometimes there is pressure from people and it can be difficult to resist the sociability. I only have to remember how I'll feel even after one drink, to abstain politely, but firmly. Thanks for the clarity.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thank you gramarye and samsons! I appreciate the comments and the votes up! Best, Steph

    • samsons1 profile image


      8 years ago from Tennessee

      voted up and useful! Well written and informative article, the videos are also good...

    • gramarye profile image


      8 years ago from Adelaide - Australia

      Great hub, well researched and written. Thanks!

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thank you Jamie!

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Lots of good stuff here.. thanks for writing!

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Mentalist acer, you are 100% correct. An alcoholic or other addict will not change their ways until they are ready to do so (or are sent to court-ordered into rehab... but even then....) I have kept my mouth shut for years around those few with whom I have to interact at regular gatherings, but am excited to celebrate the few friends/family members that have turned the corner finally! Best to you, Steph

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      8 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      In my family you're either a teetotaler or an alchoholic,I've been a non-drinker all my life and don't care if a friend is a problematic drinker I will not intervene until they start to see it as a problem and simply tell them to clean up their act and goodbye;)

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thank you so much everyone, and I have to say - that is so wonderful for you kashmir! In my extended family, we have all sorts of addicts on the branches of our tree. While some struggle on with drinking, etc., others have made the positive decision to go alcohol-free. I will just say that there is a tremendous before and after comparison!

      Best in 2011!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks for this informative and beautifully written hub!

      I stopped drinking 25+ years ago, and never regretted it.

      Great Hub!!!

    • Erin LeFey profile image

      Erin LeFey 

      8 years ago from Maryland

      Great article and facts!

    • fucsia profile image


      8 years ago

      This is a very useful Hub!

      A healthy life is a fantastic life!

    • daravuthz profile image


      8 years ago from Cambodia

      Hi, nice to meet you, I look forward to reading some more, cheers

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 

      8 years ago from Central Oregon

      This is a beautiful Hub, thank you for writing such an informative and healthfully positive piece. Thanks and the best to those in sobriety.


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