How To Tell Other People You’re Not Drinking

I started Sobersistas a little while ago and I have been genuinely humbled by the wonderful women who have joined me on this quest to develop a better life without alcohol.

Recently, a wonderfully feisty and passionate Sobersista started her post with this opening paragraph:


“This rant is in response to posts I’ve seen expressing the awkwardness of having to explain to people, why people have chosen or are choosing not to drink alcohol. First of all, it’s totally ludicrous. No one feels any need to explain why they aren’t smoking cigarettes, taking heroin or cocaine or meth or any other drug. Let’s say, even coffee. And yet, the pressure to drink alcohol is outrageous. That fact, in and by itself, suggests there is something very very wrong.”

This clearly resonated with many other Sobersistas because the comments came thick and fast. Here’s a small selection:

“My friend has posted in FB recently because she has given up alcohol and everyone asks her ‘why’ then tries to psychoanalyse her, she feels justified to say that going through the menopause means she’s less tolerant with alcohol, she’s also studying part-time and has a lot of assignments etc on top of a full-time job so wants to keep a clear head. I feel sad that she’s had to justify it.”

“I can go out and have a good time without a drink and people think it’s weird!”

“Even my sister, who has never really been much of a drinker, was aghast when I told her I don’t think I’ll be drinking on my all-inclusive holiday in August.”

“I have found resistance from friends who think I am taking an extreme stance by saying no more.”

“I think this all the time and try explaining it to people but can be like talking to a brick wall.”

Not Sharing

I have had conversations with women who said that because they know what other peoples responses will be, they haven’t shared their sobriety challenge with anyone and won’t share any posts or group links on Facebook or other social media sites for the same reasons.

Unfriend Me

I have experienced the same kinds of responses amongst my own friends on Facebook however, I have no fear of sharing. In giving up alcohol I have become the best version of myself I have ever been and if you don’t want to be my friend because of that then I wish you well but I’m not going to drink alcohol just to make you feel comfortable.

Be Kind

I know that much of the resistance comes from those who know that they also drink too much and are not and may never be ready to look at their own drinking. By sharing your story you are holding up a mirror to them that they don’t want to look into, and that’s fine. I’m never going to be negative towards anyone for their drinking even if they are negative towards me because I don’t.

Exercise kindness and compassion to those who react negatively. They aren’t living your life and don’t understand the negative impact it’s having.

Here are a few tips to help you tell others you’re not drinking:

Get The Mood Right – If you offer a slightly defensive or embarrassed explanation of your choice it’s like you’re opening the door for people to walk in and have something to say. Be positive about this choice you’re making and say instead: “It’s brilliant and I’m loving it. I’m so excited about the future!”

Don’t Explain – it’s no-ones business except your own what you choose to put in your body. You don’t owe anyone an explanation and if you’re pushed you can just say “I’m just not” and shrug your shoulders. Treat the whole topic lightly and don’t bring your private feelings of shame and guilt into the conversation.

Friends – From an evolutionary perspective we fear being shunned from our groups because, when we lived in caves, it would mean certain death. Recognise that this is where you fear truly is. In reality, the people who truly love you always will regardless of whether you drink or not. If you are shunned from your friendship group rejoice that you have found out that these are NOT your friends and start looking for new ones.

Family – Some families are weird and think you should drink when they drink. Remember that this is your choice and you’re not doing anything bad. If you can, avoid them until you’re feeling a little stronger and are able to explain your decision. However, no matter what your relationship with your family is, good, bad or indifferent, they don’t own you and can’t dictate whether you drink or not. If necessary lie, tell them it’s medical or work or anything that works for you.

Lie – As I keep saying, your choice to stop drinking is no-ones business but your own so if you need to lie so you don’t have to explain then do. It’s your body, your mental health and your life.

Partners – If you have a partner who drinks and is still planning to, I would strongly suggest that you just put yourself in a little quiet bubble and focus on your own sobriety. If you are faced with a partner offering you a drink or bringing it home for you try this: Put your hand on your heart, muster all the love you have for them, look them directly in the eyes and say “I love you, I’m not leaving you, but no.”. Many partners fear the change that’s coming and assume it will be bad without having thought it through.

Colleagues – If you feel the pressure to drink after work with colleagues, don’t go. Again, lie if need be. Or, go and have 2 soft drinks and leave because by then everyone will have drunk too much to care if you’re drinking or not – or even there! If they ask why you’re not drinking just keep it light. You can say “I’ve heard on the grapevine there’s a promotion coming and I want to do everything I can to get it.”  OR “I’m sick of being crap at my job and being stressed over it.” Don’t make a big deal about it and they won’t either.

Be Patient – The more time you spend sober, the more benefits you start to experience, the less you will care about what others say or think. Give it time and everyone will eventually come around. Or they won’t and it will be good that they are no longer in your life (because what a stupid reason!!!).

Hold Your Head Up

I guess you will have picked up by now that I never advocate apologising for this positive lifestyle choice. You own your body and your mind and are free to do with it whatever you choose without reference to anyone else. Of course, you will need to live with the consequences of any choice you make but when you get sober I promise you those consequences are all positive – even the ones that might seem negative in the beginning.

Be An Example

My take on this is as follows:

We need to remember that we are the vanguard of a new movement which, one day, will be responsible for putting alcohol on a much lower societal footing. One day it will be odd/bad/disapproved of to be a drinker. In the meantime, when friends, loved ones and acquaintances question, cajole and generally draw attention to your non-drinking status, be kind and loving. Be a sobriety example that everyone wants to follow. Live an outstanding life that you are consciously creating and constantly give credit to your sobriety. One day they will all join us here. We’re changing the world. Let’s do it with love, compassion and a healthy dose of natural feisty femininity. Own your story and be out and proud about your sobriety.

If you would like some one to one support, I offer coaching which you can read more about HERE.

There are some quick one-liners you can memorise in this blog ’30 Ways To Deal With Alcohol Bullies’ that you might find helpful too. CLICK HERE TO READ

With love always, Jules xx

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