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What to Say When Asked Why You Don’t Drink

During the holidays or social gatherings, you might struggle to navigate the social aspects of being newly sober. Many people might ask you about your sobriety and why you don’t drink. You can’t avoid these questions. People will always ask about your life and what sobriety is like. Sobriety might be something other people are curious about, and you should be ready to answer the question, why you don’t drink.

What Do You Want to Share?

When asked about your sobriety, you might feel obligated to dive into all the reasons for your recovery. You might not want to share all the details of your alcohol addiction with others. Your support system and those closest to you probably understand your decision. People outside that circle might not have the whole story.

Remember always: your decision to get sober is yours, and you do not need to share your story with everyone! Before you go to a holiday party or other get-together where others might be drinking, think about how you will answer the inevitable question. Consider what you want to share and what you don’t want to share. Additionally, you might choose to disclose more information to some people and less to others, depending upon your interpersonal relationships.

When you have an idea of what you’d like to share and with whom you can start to think about how to talk about why you don’t drink.

How to Share (or Not Share) Your Sobriety

If you choose not to share your sobriety with others, you can politely state, I’d rather not talk about it or change the subject. When people press you about it, you can be a little more firm and reset the boundary by saying, This is personal, and I’ve already said that I don’t want to talk about this. You can also walk away if they continue to make you feel uncomfortable.

However, if you choose to share more details about your recovery with others, you should have some ideas in mind before going to social events. Remember that people will most likely ask why you don’t drink, and you don’t want to be caught off guard.

5 Ways to Answer “Why You Don’t Drink”

Be upfront and honest about the reasons why you are sober.

You might choose to be honest and straightforward about sobriety. You might not want to go this route with everyone you meet, depending upon how close you are. However, for your closest relationships and support system, you might need to be comfortable talking about your sobriety to mend and build these critical relationships.

I’m the designated driver tonight.

You can help your friends and loved ones stay safe by offering to drive them to gatherings where they might drink. Being a designated driver will give you a reason to avoid drinking and an excuse when other people ask you why you don’t drink.

I’m allergic to beer/wine/alcohol.

Allergies to ingredients in beer or wine can cause physical discomfort for many people. Say that you are allergic can help you side-step talking about recovery if you aren’t comfortable. In addition, while other people might not relate to addiction recovery, most people can understand the discomfort of an allergic reaction.

I have work in the morning.

You can say that you have other responsibilities in the morning, which are preventing you from drinking tonight. Most people can relate to how uncomfortable it can be to work through a hangover or a lack of sleep, and they might drop the issue after you talk about your work responsibilities.

I can’t drink on my medication.

Many medications don’t mix well with alcohol, like antibiotics, pain relievers, or psychotropic drugs. If you are in recovery from addiction, you might have an underlying mental health issue, like anxiety or depression, and could be on psychiatric medications. Of course, with this excuse, you might be asked follow-up questions, like: What meds are you on? Be prepared for this question if you take medications that don’t mix with alcohol.

Having some of these excuses or reasons thought out ahead of time will help you avoid being caught off guard. You don’t need to be entirely truthful and can be intentionally vague if you aren’t comfortable talking about being newly sober. You should also consider having an action plan to avoid relapse triggers in social settings.

How to Avoid Relapse Triggers

Relapse rates for addiction are about 40-60%, and you are most susceptible to relapsing during early sobriety, especially if you do not have an action plan to deal with triggers. While this rate might appear high, the relapse rates for substance use disorders are lower than other chronic illnesses, like asthma and hypertension.

An action plan to avoid relapse triggers might include:

  • Avoiding specific people, places, and events that remind you of drinking
  • Continuing to seek peer support in 12-Step meetings or other groups
  • Participate in alumni programs and aftercare services offered by your rehab facility
  • Find fun sober activities, like sports, outdoor exploration, new hobbies, book clubs, and others
  • Plan what you would like your support system to do if you relapse. Consider some of the following questions:
    • Do you want them to send you back to rehab? 
    • Should they call you out on your behaviors? 
    • What facilities and treatment options worked for you in the past?

Alcohol Relapse Prevention in Nashville

If you are in recovery from alcohol addiction, you should create a plan to prevent relapse and avoid drinking triggers. Brentwood Springs Detox of Nashville, TN, is here to help you stay sober after you leave our residential rehab and detox facilities. Visit our admissions page to learn more about recovery from alcohol addiction.

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