How to turn down a drink

How to turn down a drink

11 Ways to Turn Down a Drink

I thought that one of the benefits of being sober during quarantine would be a brief respite from the pressure that our society imposes on us to drink. Everyone knows that you can’t sit down at a restaurant or buckle your seatbelt on a plane without someone offering you a drink. But I figured that since in-person socializing is all but gone, the pressure to drink should disappear as well, right?

Last week, the alcohol delivery app, Drizly saw a 300% spike in sales. According to the scheduling platform, Doodle , there’s been a 296% increase in the booking of virtual happy hours and drinking events last month. Also, have you noticed how many Tweets, memes, and Tik Tok’s about people day-drinking during this lockdown?

Just two days ago, a newly sober woman asked me, “What am I supposed to do when someone offers me a drink?”

Even in quarantine, we need to be able to turn down a drink, but here’s the thing: sometimes, just saying “no thanks” isn’t enough for people. Here are some tried and true methods I shared with that woman tried and true:

1. Head ’em off at the pass:

A decoy drink is a classic move to avoid having to decline a drink. As soon as people see that you already have a drink, it lessens your chances of being offered one. Arrive at your event early and order your cranberry and soda (or whatever) and ask the waiter to keep refilling it throughout the night. If the event is virtual, just pour yourself a mocktail before you log in.

2. Hand the wine glass to the server with confidence

I was about nine months sober, sitting nervously in a small dinner party when I saw the waiter at the other end of the table starting to pour wine. I didn’t know what to do, but then a woman sitting across from me regally handed her wine glass to the waiter when he approached and ordered sparkling water with lime. I followed her lead when the waiter got to me.

3. “Believe me, you don’t want me drinking!”

Sometimes a joke can help turn an awkward issue into a light, funny moment. I’ve used this a couple of times, but usually with friends or close acquaintances, who have a sense of humor. Doing so takes the pressure off of you and puts the table at ease as well.

4. Actually, I can’t drink – I’m allergic to alcohol.

This one never fails. Also, I can say it with certainty because it’s true — I do have a physical allergy to alcohol. When I drink, I experience face-flushing, vomiting, headaches, irrational thoughts/actions, and memory loss. Bonus! People in the hospitality industry take allergies seriously, so waiters and managers might even take extra precautions to ensure that your meal is also alcohol-free.

5. “I’ll have a Diet Coke.”

Ask any bartender, and they’ll tell you, ordering a Diet Coke is totally code for “I’m sober.” Order yours in a clear voice when everyone else is ordering their cocktails, and you’ll find that most people will take the hint.

6. None, for me, thank you. I don’t drink.

Simple, elegant, and to the point. This is my standard go-to when turning down a drink. It doesn’t beg any questions, and when offered with a confident expression, it needn’t invite any more discussion.

7. No thanks, I’m sober.

Sometimes I just need to let my sober flag fly a little. “No, I’m not abstaining because I’m the designated driver, pregnant, or on antibiotics. I’m not drinking because I’m sober, and I’m figgin’ proud of it – so there!”

8. I’m not drinking tonight.

While this isn’t the entire truth, under certain circumstances, it’s a perfectly acceptable version of it. When a drunk stranger is pressing me to do a shot with them (you know the type). I’ll say something like, “I’m not drinking tonight, but don’t let that stop you from turning up” – that usually does the trick.

9. I want to keep a clear head.

Another variation on this one is, “No, thanks, I’ve got an early day tomorrow.” Like with suggestion number nine, It’s a bit risky, as the next time I see this person, they might want to drink with me.

10. Turn to science

Let’s say you’ve said no, and someone is still pressuring you. Bring in good ole science to shut it down. Something like, “Do you know that the alcohol in that drink you’re holding is the same substance used in disinfectants and industrial cleaning solutions?” outta do it.

This one may come off as provocative, it lets people know exactly where you stand with alcohol. It can also be a conversation starter, which isn’t really a bad thing, just make sure you’re prepared to answer.

11. Treat virtual meetups like in-person events

When invited to a virtual happy hour or if you’re “meeting” someone cute for digital drinks, don’t stress. Click on the link once you’ve poured with the beverage of your choice. Once again, you’ve taken the reigns of the situation and the likelihood of someone asking why you’re not drinking is slim.

Keep your own sobriety and sanity at the forefront of your mind though. You can also decline a virtual event just like you can an in-person one. If it sounds like your proposed event may cause you to do some happy hour “compare and despair”, go ahead and skip it.

Believe it or not, people don’t really care that much if you don’t drink. I recommend acting as relaxed as possible about the whole situation. Also, some of my most amazing life-experiences have occurred while I’ve been sober AF. It’s been nearly twelve years since my last drink, and there’s not one day where I think, “this (day, dinner, movie, concert) would be better with a glass of something.”

Is there a social event in your near future that involves alcohol?

For example, you may be planning to celebrate the arrival of the new year with friends or family. If you have an established goal of abstinence and are fairly new to recovery, you may find this event challenging for many reasons, especially if alcohol is being served and your host or other party goers are dead-set on pressing a drink into your hand.

While a simple “no, thank you” is often sufficient for refusing alcohol (or other drugs), it can be helpful to plan ahead for how you will handle the inevitable invitations to drink and other challenges that you may experience.

Here are some things to consider:

Alcohol Refusal Skills

If you know that alcohol will be served at the event, having a plan for how you will respond to any social pressure to drink is important. If you expect to be offered a drink, think about how you will respond, what feels most comfortable for you. Ultimately, you will be looking for a way to refuse alcohol while remaining friendly and respectful.

Have a convincing refusal ready to use as needed. A convincing refusal is clear, short and to the point (e.g., “No” , or “No, thank you”). Some examples include:

No, thanks… I don’t drink.
No, thanks. I’m not drinking tonight.
No, thank you. I am taking medication that doesn’t mix with alcohol.
Thank you for the offer, but I’d really rather not.

Contrary to what you might expect, most people will respect your refusal and move on without continuing to insist that you should accept the drink.

Sounds easy? Yes, but like any new behavior it will likely feel odd at first. You can build your confidence and become more comfortable: write out the chosen refusals that you plan to use when offered a drink. Rehearse your response aloud to get comfortable with what you will say and how you will say it. The NIH has a helpful interactive worksheet that can be used to organize your thoughts and record your responses.

Dealing with Urges

Even without social pressures, you may experience internal pressure. Just being around others who are drinking may spark urges or a desire to drink. You may find yourself thinking: “I’ll just have one”, “It’s New Years, everyone drinks at New Years!”, “No problem! I can quit again…tomorrow”, or something similar). SMART Recovery offers a number of strategies and tools for coping with urges. Check out this blog post, the online toolbox or pick up a copy of the SMART Recovery Handbook in the SMART online bookstore for more urge coping skills .


Some things to consider in addition to the strategies listed above:

Ask yourself: Is this an event that you must attend? Might it be better to sit this one out for this year?

Keep a non-alcoholic drink in your hand during the event.

Ask for support from others to cope with temptation.

Plan an escape if the temptation gets too great (e.g., don’t let your car get blocked in).

Review how you’re thinking about recovery. Is giving up alcohol something you “must do” or “have to do”? The difference between “I can’t drink” and “I can drink. I choose not to.” is huge!

So, tell us: How do you refuse a drink?

Please post your refusal strategies in the comment section below.

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How to turn down a drink

If you don’t like drinking, if you can’t drink or if you shouldn’t drink because you’re not of legal drinking age, you should know that there are quite a few ways to turn down a drink like a true lady. It’s normal to not like drinking and you shouldn’t feel weird about explaining to people that this is just not your thing. When you find yourself in a social situation, you’ll often be offered an alcoholic drink, but you can turn it down without seeming like a killjoy. Here is how you can turn down a drink like a lady:

1 Decline Gracefully

One of the simplest and most efficient ways to turn down a drink is by simply saying “No, thank you, I don’t drink.” There’s no need to go into detail. Sometimes, a polite no will do the trick. The host will understand and they will not try to talk you into drinking against your will.

2 Offer a Polite Excuse

There are a lot of polite excuses you can offer someone when you are refusing a drink. You can say things like: you have to drive your friends home; you’re not thirsty at the moment; you are still recovering from a cold; or that you are pacing yourself. Just say whatever crosses your mind, be polite and you can convince your host that you don’t need to drink alcohol at a party to have fun.

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3 Carry a Decoy

If you are trying to avoid drinking alcohol at a party, you could ask instead for soda, lemonade, Coke, non-alcoholic sparkling cider or some tea. Whether you drink it or not, having a drink already might stop people from offering you another one, especially an alcoholic beverage.

4 Enlist Allies

If you go to a bar or a restaurant with your friends, you can discreetly inform the waitstaff that you don’t like drinking and you could ask them to omit alcohol if anyone buys you a drink. This way, if your so-called friends don’t take no for an answer, at least you won’t be drinking alcohol thanks to the nice waitstaff.

5 Keep Busy

You can have a lot of fun at parties without drinking alcohol. Just keep busy. Meet new people, sing, dance or enjoy the meal or the appetizers. All these activities will give you something else to do besides drinking and you’ll have so much fun too.

6 Offer to Be the Designated Driver

If you don’t want to drink while you’re at a party with your friends, you could just offer to be the designated driver for the evening. This will give you a good and solid excuse to refuse alcoholic drinks. A sensible and responsible host should understand that and they should drop the issue right then and there.

7 Take a Drink and Hold It

If your host or your friends are not taking no for an answer and you absolutely have to take a drink, then just do it but don’t drink it. Simply carry the drink with you the entire night without sipping, or you could quietly abandon it somewhere.

Just keep in mind that you don’t have to drink at a party if you don’t want to; you can have lots of fun without any alcohol and you will also not have anything to regret the next day. How do you turn down a drink? Please share your tips with us in the comments section!

Please rate this article

    sharon @Zanna good on you

Zanna I just say ” no thank you, I don’t drink”. It’s pretty simple, and I don’t feel embarrassed- I feel proud that I don’t need a drink to have a good time.

sharon @M3g good on ya that’s the best way.

Beryl I usually just ask for plain tonic water. It looks like it could be vodka so you don’t have to explain the no alcohol bit which gets tiresome.

M3g I don’t cave in to peer pressure to drink. If I don’t want alcohol, I just won’t drink it.

Bela I either say no or just have a non-alcoholic drink in my hand so I don’t get asked, especially at a party when everyone is drunk and won’t take no to a drink as an answer.

sharon Just say no and that’s it. It’s your body if you don’t want to intoxicate it you don’t have to. There’s no reason to make an excuse. Just be yourself

peony Great ideas there. No thanks usually works really well for me

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How to turn down a drink

It’s Bound to Happen

When you have made the decision to become sober and are in recovery from your alcohol addiction, it is inevitable that there will be a situation or occasion where you will find yourself being offered a drink. Whether it is a wedding, a neighborhood gathering, a work-related function, or any of the numerous situations when drinking alcohol is a common occurrence, being prepared in advance on ways to turn down a drink will make you feel stronger and more confident.

Different Ways to Turn Down Alcohol in Social Settings

You do not need to tell anyone your personal situation unless you want to. Depending on the particular situation, by planning ahead what you are going to say when you are offered a drink, your answer will be firm and polite.

A Simple and Direct “No, Thank You”

Many times when someone offers you alcohol, a kind but firm “No, thank you” is enough. Oftentimes, the person will respect your answer and not push you for a reason why you do not want an alcoholic drink.

If the person does not respect your choice and continues to be persistent about your having a drink or starts asking questions, give them a more detailed, casual, and polite response as to why you are declining their offer of an alcoholic drink. By doing this, you are providing them with a reason that cannot be argued with.

I’m Driving or I am the Designated Driver

Depending on the circumstances, telling the person offering you a drink that you are driving home or that you are the designated driver for your group is a response that very few people will question. Putting safety first is always an admirable choice.

I Don’t Drink

Simply telling the person that you don’t drink takes courage. Hopefully, that answer should be enough for them to accept the fact. But be prepared, they may be persistent in asking why you don’t drink. Remember you do not have to reveal anything about yourself that you are not comfortable revealing. You do not have to tell them your life story and share that you abused alcohol in the past or that you are in recovery.

If their persistence continues, use one of the following excuses to explain why you are not drinking:

  • Tell them that you quit drinking.
  • Say that you are on medication and cannot mix alcohol with it.
  • Tell them that you are on a diet and every calorie counts. Saying you don’t want to have the empty calories that are in the alcohol is a reasonable answer.
  • Simply say that you don’t feel like drinking tonight or that you are not drinking tonight.
  • Tell them that you developed an allergic reaction to alcohol.

No Thanks, I Have to Go to Work Tomorrow

Several additional variations on this response include:

  • I need to have a clear head in the morning.
  • I have to get an early start to my day tomorrow.
  • I don’t want to be hungover tomorrow.
  • I have to get up early.

Change the Subject

Turn the subject of having a drink in a different direction. For example, talk about a new juice cleanse you want to try or ask if anyone else wants the drink. A few moments of distraction are often enough to make someone forget about whether or not you are drinking alcohol.

Have a Non-Alcoholic Drink in Your Hand

Holding a glass in your hand containing your favorite non-alcoholic beverage is a great way to stop others from offering you a drink. When someone offers you an alcoholic beverage, you can hold up your glass and tell them that you already have your preferred beverage.

Whether you are drinking your favorite fizzy water, flavored soda, fruit juice, or mocktail, no one needs to know the contents of your glass. Some people will even let the bartender know that they do not drink alcohol and ask that their drink is put in the same type of glass used for alcoholic beverages.

I’m in Recovery

Some people may decide to simply tell the person offering them an alcoholic beverage that they are in recovery from alcohol abuse. This does not mean that you need to tell everyone at the event. Tell the host or the person offering the drink, in a simple, matter-of-fact way.

Make sure that the situation does not turn awkward by letting the person know that you are fine with other people drinking. Let them know that you would like a non-alcoholic drink. This should only be done if you are completely comfortable with the subject.

Additional Tips

Some additional tips to help you navigate social situations where alcohol is being served include:

  • It is often helpful to script and practice your response. Imagine what the other person might say and prepare your response. Write it down and rehearse it aloud. Some people ask a supportive person to role-play with them. It is important that the person chosen offers realistic pressure to have a drink. They must also give honest feedback about the responses you give.
  • Look directly at the person offering you the drink and make eye contact.
  • Be respectful, friendly, firm, and clear in your responses.
  • Avoid giving vague excuses or lengthy explanations.
  • Keep your responses simple and short.
  • If possible, let your host know in advance that you do not drink alcohol. Depending on the occasion, the host can let others know not to offer you an alcoholic drink. This prevents you from being put in an uncomfortable situation.

Not necessarily. Although they have fewer calories, many light beers have almost as much alcohol as regular beer—about 85% as much, or 4.2% versus 5.0% alcohol by volume, on average.

Check the alcohol content of your beverage. Malt beverages are not required to list their alcohol content on the labels, so you may need to visit the bottler’s Web site.

How many “drinks” are in a bottle of wine?

A typical 25-ounce (750 ml) bottle of table wine holds about 5 “standard” drinks, each containing about 5 ounces. This serving size of wine contains about the same amount of alcohol as a 12-ounce regular beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits.

Get to know what 5 ounces looks like by measuring it out at home. That way you can estimate how many standard drinks you’re being served in a restaurant or bar that uses large glasses and generous serving sizes.

Mixing alcohol with certain medications can cause nausea, headaches, drowsiness, fainting, a loss of coordination, internal bleeding, heart problems, and difficulties in breathing. Alcohol can also make a medication less effective. For more information, see Harmful Interactions: Mixing Alcohol with Medicines.

Examples of medical conditions for which it’s safest to avoid drinking include liver disease (such as from hepatitis C), bipolar disorder, abnormal heart rhythm, and chronic pain.

Among the dangers of underage drinking:

  • Each year, an estimated 5,000 people under age 21 die from alcohol-related injuries.
  • The younger people are when they start to drink, the more likely they are to develop alcohol use disorder at some point in their lives.
  • Underage drinking is illegal—an arrest can lead to losing a job, a driver’s license, or a college scholarship.

Even moderate amounts of alcohol can significantly impair driving performance and your ability to operate other machinery, whether or not you feel the effects of alcohol.

Heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause brain damage and other serious problems in the baby. Because it is not yet known whether any amount of alcohol is safe for a developing baby, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not drink.

Highest risk

About 50% of people who drink in this group have alcohol use disorder.

Increased risk

This “increased risk” category contains three different drinking pattern groups. Overall, nearly 20% of people who drink in this category have alcohol use disorder.

Low-risk drinking

Only about 2% of drinkers in this group has alcohol use disorder.

A U.S. standard drink contains about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol (also known as an alcoholic drink-equivalent). That’s the amount in 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of table wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

How to turn down a drink

Distilled spirits include vodka, whiskey, gin, rum, and tequila.

Light to moderate drinking

  • Men: Up to 2 drinks per day
  • Women: Up to 1 drink per day

Heavy or at-risk drinking

  • Men: More than 4 drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week
  • Women: More than 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week

Low-risk drinking

Men: No more than 4 drinks on any day and no more than 14 per week

Women: No more than 3 drinks on any day and no more than 7 per week

People with a parent, grandparent, or other close relative with alcoholism have a higher risk for becoming dependent on alcohol. For many, it may be difficult to maintain low-risk drinking habits.

Pace yourself: It’s best to have no more than one standard drink per hour, with nonalcoholic “drink spacers” between alcohol beverages. On any day, stay within low-risk levels of no more than 4 drinks for men or 3 for women. Note that it takes about 2 hours for the adult body to completely break down a single drink. Do not drive after drinking.

For comparison, regular beer is 5% alcohol by volume (alc/vol), table wine is about 12% alc/vol, and straight 80-proof distilled spirits is 40% alc/vol.

The percent alcohol by volume (alc/vol) for distilled spirits is listed on bottle labels and may be found online as well. It is half the “proof,” such that 80-proof spirits is 40% alc/vol.

Convert proof to alc/vol

Enter in the proof of the alcohol in the left field to automatically calculate the alc/vol.

How to turn down a drink

Last summer, I spent much of my quarantine time podded with my parents, sitting by a pool, and drinking 0% beer (it wasn’t terrible). One particular day, my dad was making blended drinks. Every time he came outside with a new pitcher, he brought an empty cup for me and asked if I wanted one. Each time I said no thank you. On the fifth trip, after he asked yet again, I replied: “Dad, I don’t drink.” He knew this. His response was: “Oh, right.”

A few moments later, I relayed the situation to my mother and lamented his response. “Honey, you know he forgets,” she said. “He still thinks you are going to meet a nice man and settle down somewhere,” (I am partnered and queer). Unless I offer an explanation, my dad does forget, and it does not feel good. Granted, that was his fifth margarita.

These days, people choose not to drink for a variety of reasons. According to the Washington Post , nearly 1 in 3 adult Americans don’t imbibe at all. This might be hard to believe considering how much drinking culture saturates advertising and other media.

Let’s face it: declining a drink can be awkward and sometimes overwhelming. Parties, work events, book clubs, vacations, funerals, and even just plain old dinner-time frequently calls for a drink in hand. Whether you’re abstaining, moderating, or just taking the night off, through real life investigative research I’ve devised the following 5 strategies for declining a drink:


“I’m on a health kick.”

Lace up those running shoes and take The Health Kick for a trial run. If you’ve been a heavy drinker in the past, this one may feel like a Dad Joke to say out loud. But The Health Kick is rarely a lie: whether you’re focused on physical or mental well-being, your intentions are honest, and the response you get is generally mild, polite, or even congratulatory.


Are you totally uncomfortable disclosing anything about your current relationship to drinking? Does it feel too personal to even hint at the details? Then you might feel more at ease reaching for The White Lie– though I caution to use this tactic sparingly.

“I am taking medicine.”

Yes, this answer seems benign. Who would argue with medicine?

But be sure to know your audience. Can you expect follow-up questions regarding your health? Would you feel comfortable answering them should they arise?

Pro-Tip: Toenail fungus sometimes requires medication that is toxic when combined with alcohol. Toenail fungus is also not something people want to talk about at length.


You may have larger socio-political reasons for forgoing a drink. An international movement of nondrinkers is gaining momentum and collectively critiquing the toxic culture perpetuated by Big Alcohol.

“You still drink? Big Alcohol is a tool of the Patriarchy.”

“Umm, really? I don’t drink carcinogens.”

This response could open the door to a bigger conversation about the underreported health effects of drinking alcohol. Did you know that alcohol consumption is directly linked to cancer? According to the CDC, if you don’t drink now, don’t start.


On a positive note, how about instead of making the situation about what you are not doing at the moment, ask for what you really want.

“I would love a Shirley Temple right now.”

A true classic: It’s a taste of childhood, and the bartender definitely has the ingredients .

“Thank you! I am so thirsty. Ice water would be amazing.”

Most humans need 2-3 litres of water per day!

Aren’t you the cutest thing? No, really. Ice water? A Shirley Temple? That is just too cute. Ordering a drink can be a joy practice. Take your time looking at the menu and decide what would be delicious or refreshing. Make sure to order enthusiastically.


How about instead of engineering an airtight response, you just try keeping it plain and simple?

“No.” Or, even better: “No, thank you.”

“I don’t drink.”

“I am not drinking today.”

“I am sober.”

There isn’t much room for critique here. It’s direct, succinct, and polite. You’re neither being critical nor making excuses. Keeping it simple allows for a simple response.

No matter the scenario, the truth is – there will never be a perfect way to disclose your decision to not drink, or to not have a drink. The responses will generally be unspectacular – respectful acknowledgements. With a bit of prep work, you may not even have to tell Bob from Accounting or other total strangers about your toenail fungus medication.

Larger social functions may call for their own kind of pre-event strategizing. Happy hour with your colleagues? Carry cash. Walk into the bar. Order your nonalcoholic beverage of choice. Smile at your server and “ Tip as if you were drinking booze. ” (industry standard is $1 – $2 per drink). Hold your glass with confidence. The contents are for you to know. Make your rounds, and don’t be afraid to leave early.

Outdoor social event?

Bring your own beverages! When the weather is cold, I like to carry tea bags for quick and easy comfort and variety. My go-to drinks during the warmer months are the wide range of bubbly waters on the market, or a healthy dose of caffeine like a yerba mate. Clean Cause is an awesome choice, and a conversation starter– they give 50% of all of their profits to help fund sober living scholarships for folks in addiction recovery. No matter the season, I like to carry my own fancy insulated cup and have a variety of options to share in a small shoulder bag or cooler. As long as you have a cup in your hand, few questions will come your way.

Choosing non-alcoholic beverages at the store, restaurants, and bars allows those businesses to expand and offer more variety. Overall, your reason for not drinking belongs to you . From servers to family members, those that offer you a drink are doing so as a part of the unwritten (and often uncontested) social expectation to take a drink. No matter your reason or your response, the act of not drinking alcohol is radical, revolutionary, and, above all, a personal choice. More power to you!

Got any tried-and-true strategies of your own for passing on a drink? Share your tips with us on Instagram or our website , and get the latest on CLEAN Cause!

Making Sober Socializing Easier

How to turn down a drinkRecovering from alcoholism can create special challenges, since alcohol is a common feature at social gatherings. Learning how to turn down a drink can take some practice, but there are a number of strategies you can use to make sober socializing a bit easier.

1. Be Confident in Your Sobriety

If you don’t want a glass of wine or a beer, a simple “No, thank you” should be sufficient. You can share that you’re in recovery if you feel comfortable doing so, but you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your choice.

Practicing saying no ahead of time can be a good way to boost your confidence if you’re in the early stages of sobriety. If you have a 12-Step sponsor, ask him or her for assistance. Going to a meeting before you attend the event can also be helpful, since it will provide you with a reminder of all you’ve accomplished so far and what you stand to lose if you relapse.

2. Bring a Buddy

Having a supportive friend attend the party with you is a good way to protect your sobriety if you’re worried about how to refuse a drink on your own. This person should be someone who understands your substance abuse issues, is willing to stay close to you throughout the evening, and will leave with you if the situation gets out of control.

Your buddy for the event should be someone who doesn’t not drink. You don’t want to risk losing your support system because he or she has become too intoxicated to use sound judgment.

3. Be the Designated Driver

If you’re uncomfortable sharing the exact details of your sobriety, offering to be the designated driver for the evening is one possible approach. Helping other guests get home safely lets you protect your recovery while doing a good deed in the process.

If you’re at a bar or restaurant, keep in mind that many establishments offer free sodas or non-alcoholic drinks for the designated driver. This can help you save money while providing an easy way to keep reminding others of the reason why you’re not drinking.

4. Tell a White Lie

A common excuse people give for not drinking when they don’t want to share the details of their sobriety is that they’re taking medications that can’t be mixed with alcohol. It’s common knowledge that antibiotics, cold and flu meds, and prescription pain medications shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol, so this excuse is unlikely to be questioned.

Since alcohol is high in calories, another white lie that may work for your situation is to say that you’re on diet. Most popular diet plans discourage drinking entirely, but you can always joke that you’d prefer to save your calorie allotment for a particularly delicious dessert.

If you’re at a bar, saying you’re on a budget or trying to save money might be one way to explain why you’re not drinking. However, you should be aware that this excuse could backfire if the person offers to buy you a drink.

5. Always Keep a Beverage in Your Hand

People will be less likely to offer you a drink if you’re already holding a beverage in your hand. If you aren’t sure whether there will be non-alcoholic choices available at the event, bring your own soda, juice, tea, or coffee.

Bringing a reusable mug for your non-alcoholic beverage is certainly eco-friendly, but some people recommend pouring your drink into the cups provided at the party. This makes it difficult to tell at a glance what you’re drinking, which can eliminate the need to constantly explain why you’re abstaining from alcohol.

6. Change the Subject

Distraction can work wonders when it comes to gracefully avoiding sticky situations. You can change the subject by saying you need to use the restroom, make a call, or have spotted a friend you need to check in with. If you know the person well, asking about a common interest or a mutual acquaintance is another good way to avoid talking about why you’re not drinking.

Distraction works best on people who are already a bit tipsy or at a very crowded party. In these cases, even just a few minutes of discussing something else is likely to be enough to make the person forget about your sobriety.

7. Make an Effort to Mingle

Sometimes, the offer of a drink is simply an icebreaker to encourage someone to enjoy the event. If you’re already socializing with other guests, you’ll be showing everyone that you don’t need alcohol to have fun.

Asking questions is a simple way to break the ice if you don’t know many of the other guests at the event. For example, you could ask how someone knows the party host or what they think of the song that is playing. Compliments also work well, such as saying you love someone’s shirt and asking where they purchased it.

8. Know When to Leave

People who respect you as a person will honor your decision to abstain from alcohol. If someone continues to pressure you to drink, the best approach is to simply leave the party. Don’t put your sobriety at risk by continuing to spend time with people who won’t honor the progress you’ve already made in your recovery journey.

How to turn down a drink

How to turn down a drink

Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity,, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.

How to turn down a drink

It can be difficult to say no to alcohol for anyone, but it is especially hard for those who are quitting or cutting down on drinking. You can avoid places where drinks are served, up to a certain point. But, eventually, you may be offered a drink by someone you know, or in a public situation where you aren’t familiar with everyone present.

In these situations, you don’t always want to explain your relationship with alcohol or the reason you choose not to drink, especially if you sense they may not understand. It can be helpful to have a casual, polite response to avoid being asked further questions, offending your host, feeling embarrassed, or exposing a personal story you aren’t prepared to share.

“I’m Driving”

This is the ultimate excuse. Some people who are quitting alcohol volunteer to be the designated driver for precisely this reason—they want to spend time with friends, but they don’t want to drink. This response is also great role modeling for others and furthers the important message to sober behind the wheel.

Anyone who pressures you to drink after you give this response isn’t worth listening to. The dangers of drinking and driving are well documented and it is never a good idea to drive after drinking alcohol. Although some people will insist on having a drink while claiming to be “under the limit,” even if technically true, they are still impaired.  

“No Thanks, I Just Finished One”

How you feel after a drink is an individual matter, and if you don’t want another drink instantly, all it implies is good personal boundaries around your own comfort.

It also shows you are not a compulsive drinker and sets the tone for others to pace their drinking too. Yet this response includes the implication that you might have had a drink if you felt like one and lets the power of that decision remain with you.

You may find yourself with the type of person who teases and berates those who are cutting back on alcohol or in recovery. While this might not be the kind of companion you would choose as a friend, they are sometimes unavoidable in a social situation. Don’t let them make you feel bad for whatever choice you make.

Press Play for Advice On Recovery

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring addiction specialist Erica Spiegelman, shares the skills that help in recovery. Click below to listen now.

This piece originally appeared on VinePair.

It’s a situation you have probably been in before: you’re being entertained in someone’s home and they offer you a drink that’s not exactly your cup of tea. Maybe you’re a red wine drinker and the host has offered you white, or you have an aversion to wheat beer but the host is obsessed with it. What’s the process of politely declining the drink, without offending your host?

While the easiest thing to do in this situation is to tell your host you won’t be imbibing this evening, let’s be honest, all that does is leave you sitting in the corner watching everyone else enjoy themselves while you wish you had any drink in your hand besides that pumpkin beer the host is serving, but you had to go and lie, claiming you aren’t drinking. Big mistake.

One of the worst things you can do in this situation is lie to the host and say you aren’t drinking tonight. What are you going to do if an hour later the host serves one of your favorite beverages? Will you sneak a drink and risk looking like a liar, or will you abstain and further shrink into your corner?

Just be honest. As we all learned as children, honesty is the best policy, but that doesn’t mean you should be brutally honest; after all, you also need to consider your hosts feelings. Don’t go telling the host you aren’t a fan of IPA because you think it tastes like licking a pine cone or that their choice in wine is beneath you. Instead explain that you need to pass on the wheat beer because you’ve never been able to acquire a taste for it, or that white wine is often a bit too acidic for your tastes and your stomach.

In every instance, blame your lack of desire to consume the beverage they’re politely offering on yourself. The worst thing you can do is cause your host to feel as if they are at fault for choosing to offer a beverage that they themselves enjoy. Self deprecation is encouraged – it’s not you, it’s me! – and it helps put the host at ease.

In the end, if done politely your host will almost certainly offer you something else to drink, and you can both go on with your evening happily.

How to turn down a drinkBeing in recovery requires rethinking every aspect of your daily routine, including how you choose to socialize with family and friends.

In the earliest stages of recovery, sober socializing may involve steering clear of places where you know alcohol will be served. However, since alcohol is a common feature at many social gatherings, learning how to turn down a drink with confidence is an important part of the recovery process.

Understand that No Explanation Is Required

Although many people in recovery choose to openly share their story, you are under no obligation to share the details of your sobriety with others. If you are at a party and someone offers you a glass of wine or a beer, a simple “No, thank you” is all that is necessary. You can share that you’re in recovery if you feel comfortable doing so, but you don’t owe anyone an explanation for the choices you have made.

Be a Designated Driver

If you feel as though you need to elaborate on why you’re not drinking, but don’t want to get into the details of your addiction recovery, offering to be the designated driver for the evening gives you an excuse that reasonable people will not question. Being the designated driver also saves you money when you’re out on the town, since it’s common for bars or restaurants to provide free sodas or non-alcoholic drinks to designated drivers as a way to make sure all guests have a safe ride home.

Stretch the Truth

Honesty is a virtue in most circumstances, but a white lie to ease your discomfort may be the best way to protect your sobriety. Some options to consider include:

  • “I need to get up early tomorrow.”
  • “I have an important presentation at work and don’t want to risk a hangover.”
  • “My doctor said I shouldn’t drink with the medication I am taking.”
  • “I’m trying to lose weight and can’t afford the empty calories.”
  • “I’ve already had my limit for tonight.”
  • “I’m not feeling well and am worried it will upset my stomach.”

Bring a Sober Friend

Alcohol is commonly used to deal with nervousness or anxiety in social situations. Bringing along a friend who does not drink will help you feel less awkward about sober socializing since you won’t be the only one who isn’t drinking. Your friend can also help keep you accountable if you start to experience cravings.

Your sober friend doesn’t necessarily need to be someone who is experienced with recovery. Although people who’ve gone through addiction treatment or are working a 12-Step program may have a deeper understanding of the challenges you are facing, a friend who doesn’t drink because of health reasons, personal preference, or a religious view that discourages alcohol consumption can still show you how to enjoy yourself while remaining sober.

Keep a Beverage in Your Hand

Sometimes, offering someone a drink at a party is simply an attempt to be a gracious host or to show good manners. If you already have a soda or non-alcoholic beverage in your hand, you can avoid the awkwardness of declining any alcohol that is offered. If desired, you can keep your beverage in a colored or covered container so it’s not immediately apparent what you’re drinking.

Keep Busy

If you’re visibly occupied, other guests may assume you’re just too busy to stop for a drink. Depending upon what type of event you are attending, serving food, taking pictures, dancing, showing other guests around the premises, entertaining small children, or helping to clean up at the end of the evening are just a few tasks you could do to avoid inquires as to why you aren’t consuming alcohol.

Realize People Who Won’t Respect Your Boundaries May Have Their Own Issues

Unfortunately, it’s possible you may encounter people who continue to push you to drink despite your best efforts to convince them that you want to stick to non-alcoholic beverages. These people can be frustrating, but keep in mind that a stubborn insistence that you need to drink to enjoy yourself may be not even be about you.

Often, people who insist that you join them for a drink are secretly worried about their own alcohol consumption. Deep down, they may be wondering if they are drinking too frequently or if drinking alcohol has begun to replace other activities they once enjoyed. They may have even tried to cut back in the past with no success. By pressuring you to drink, they’re trying to reassure themselves that they don’t have a problem with alcohol abuse.

Staying true to yourself shows these people that recovery is possible. When you excuse yourself from the situation instead of succumbing to pressure, you’re staying true to your own goals and being a role model to others who may someday decide they need to seek treatment.

Home » Addiction Blog » How to Turn Down a Drink Like a Boss

Okay, so you’re sober now. But keep clean long enough, and someone will ask you if you’d like a drink. If you haven’t prepared a response, you could be caught off guard. Hell, you might even relapse.

We don’t want that. Hopefully. So what do you say when someone asks if you’d like a drink? It’s best to bring some humor to the table to break the news. You shouldn’t simply say no. Usually the person proposing a beer or cocktail will ask why.

Then what? You might be at a professional event and talking about your newfound sobriety isn’t appropriate. You may be at a church function and hesitant to disclose your days of debauchery.

Here’s a list of 15 responses, in no particular order. Choose the right one for you. Person offering the drink says: What television show?

our response: Cops

Appropriate setting: With friends or family. This is a tricky one, witty to be sure, but should only be employed amongst close friends or family. You don’t want to come off as superior to those drinking, so try to use voice inflection to let them know you’re joking.

Do not, under any circumstance, say this to someone that you know has a drinking problem. They will not respond well.

Appropriate setting: With close friends or family. Should only be used with a younger crowd – people you’re confident have seen the movie Drive.

Appropriate setting: young crowd or professional setting Appropriate setting: Since this response definitely implies you drank way too much, try to avoid saying it at a professional or socially stuffy event. Appropriate setting: Amongst friends or family. Appropriate setting: anywhere, but be warned, awkwardness factor of this response is high. Person offering the drink says: Really?

You say: Yeah, I break out in handcuffs.

Appropriate setting: Amongst friends or family. Person offering the drink says: Really?

You say: Yeah, I break out in cities… you know, New York, Miami, Tijuana (emphasis on Tijuana) Person offering the drink will respond: What city ordinance?

You say: It’s kind of complicated. So I don’t want to bore you with details. I’m surprised you didn’t hear about it in the papers. This greasy city councilman/woman (his/her name) proposed it. They called it the (Your First and Last Name) Alcohol Prohibition Act.

Appropriate setting: this one might sound a little cheesy. It’s all about delivery here. Build up to the punch line for as long as possible. Only with friends and family. Appropriate setting: anywhere Appropriate setting: This is a great all-purpose response, good in virtually any situation. If you’re already known as someone with a self-deprecating sense of humor, even better. Appropriate setting: only with close friends and family. Be prepared for awkward silence afterwards, so respond with someone like… And I really can’t afford a new one. You know how much those things are going for these days? (laugh) Then ask them a question… What are you drinking? What music do you like? Something to transition the conversation. I will guarantee that the person will never ask if you’d like a drink again. This one will, at least, get a charity chuckle. Maybe a genuine laugh. If you feel it’s appropriate, this is a great line to segway into letting them know about your decision to get sober.

Appropriate setting: If you want to talk about your sobriety. A g-rated response, but again, it will probably get a charity chuckle. It’s a good icebreaker and works best if you transition by posing a get-to-know-you question.

Appropriate setting: Anywhere, anytime. Person offering the drink responds says: Why wouldn’t I want you to drink?

You say: No one wants to see me dancing naked on the bar.

Appropriate setting: Best used in a relaxed social atmosphere with friends.

If you have a favorite response, drop me an email and I’ll include it in the article. Many thanks to Reddit’s r/stopdrinking community for inspiring this post and providing some of the content.

A key skill for taking part in Dry January is learning how to say no to alcoholic drinks. And that skill will stand you in brilliant stead for drinking more healthily and happily year-round. Saying no to drinks can be hard, because we’re not used to it – but don’t worry, Lauren Booker, author of Try Dry: The Official Guide to a Month Off Booze has got you covered.

Whether you’ve decided to keep your challenge to yourself or tell the whole wide world, here are some tips on how to dodge the booze this January.

Despite not having drunk in, ooh, too long to remember, my friends and family still can’t seem to get their heads round the fact that I don’t drink. Not even at Christmas, not even on my birthday, not even if England won the World Cup. On penalties. This means that my refusal skills still get a regular work out.

In other words, no matter how many people you tell, or how well they see you’re doing, at some point during Dry January you’re likely to be offered a drink. Here are five excuses you can use if you don’t fancy telling someone you’re alcohol-free for the month:

  1. Offer to drive
  2. Tell everyone you’re not drinking because you want to go hard at the (outdoor) gym tomorrow
  3. Take control of the bottle – if you’re pouring the drinks, no one will notice you’re not having any yourself
  4. Order a mocktail or alcohol-free beer! They look just the same, so no one will be any the wiser
  5. Say you’ve had enough already and are going to switch to soft drinks for a while

Now you’ve got some excuses ready should you need them. But how can refusing a drink actually play out?

When offered a drink, I usually request, ‘Just a soft drink, please.’ The response I’m most likely to receive is: ‘Sure, there you go.’ Easy. But I do understand that not having an alcoholic drink when it’s flowing freely can be a conversation-starter, so sometimes I’ll get: ‘Go on, have a proper drink, you’re not driving/pregnant/boring, are you?’ The easiest response is: ‘No thanks, honestly, I’m fine.’ I don’t offer further information. I call that my response number one. Most often, it works.

At this point you can, of course, explain Dry January to people. Briefly explain the challenge, why you’re doing it and what you’re hoping to get out of it. It’s useful if you have something prepared beforehand, as saying it with confidence will usually stun people into silence. So that’s response number two.

If you don’t fancy getting into it, however, you’ve got a few options. Response number three: ‘I’ve got one somewhere, actually. Now where did I leave it?’ and wander off looking for your drink . . . This also works on video calls – walking out of shot for a while will force the others on the call to change the subject.

Response number four: ‘No really, no more, thanks. I’m switching to water.’ This implies that you’ve already had a few, even though you know it’s a few lemonades. It can be a risky strategy as they might offer you another drink later in the evening, but I use this tactic when I have no intention of discussing my drinking habits.

The headline here is, don’t be offended if (when) people who you’ve told about your Try Dry challenge offer you a drink. Politely refuse, remind them of your dry month if necessary, and carry on doing what you were doing. Refusing drinks is like building a muscle; the more you practise saying ‘no’, the easier it becomes.

This text was adapted from Try Dry: The Official Guide to a Month Off Booze. Get your copy.

How to turn down a drink

Many people refuse alcoholic beverages when offered. And for a variety of reasons: they don’t want to drink and drive; they’re on a health kick that doesn’t include alcohol, or maybe there are past issues to overcome. Many people have religious or health reasons, or maybe they just don’t choose to include drinking in their lifestyle.

Being the social creatures we are, everyone likes it when others are having a good time. In some circles, on some occasions, that good time automatically includes alcohol.

So how do you refuse without being a killjoy?

Sometimes it’s easy and no one notices or cares. A simple “No thank you” is all you need. Other times, in certain crowds, there may be pressure to join in.

If you are at a stand-up networking event, having sparkling water or other beverage in a stemmed glass serves the purpose as well as wine.

When You Say “No”

  • Decline right away. Any hesitation on your part means you may not be taken seriously.
  • Keep a non-alcoholic beverage in your hand. This will give you the appearance of participating and will also provide a drink in the case of an impromptu toast.
  • Have somefavorite non-alcoholic beveragesin mind that you can order without hesitation. You can also add the word “virgin” to a standard cocktail.
  • In a pinch, order a club soda with a twist of lime, a sparkling water, or your favorite soft drink (Coke or Sprite) with a cherry or twist of lime in a high-ball glass.
  • Non-alcoholic beers are gaining popularity as well. Have a couple of brands in mind that you can order.
  • If your host asks if you’d like red or white (as in wine), you may – without apology or explanation – kindly ask for sparkling water or a soft drink instead.

If You Need to Explain Why

It doesn’t matter why you refuse alcohol, and it’s no one’s business but yours. However, social pressure can be tough and sometimes you feel you must explain.

Be matter-of-fact with your excuse and keep it simple. This is not a time to fumble for words.

  • “I’ve had a cold so I’m only drinking soda this evening.”
  • “Hey, that’s okay. I’m good for now.”
  • “Just water for me this time around.”

Or you could just say, “I don’t drink.” This may take a little courage, but at least the subject is off the table.

Whatever the reason behind your choice not to imbibe, you have every right to stand your ground. And there’s no reason not to have a good time while doing so!

Do your best to participate in the gathering, event, or festivities, enjoy yourself and those in your company, and try to keep the focus off what is (or isn’t) in your glass.

Table of Contents

Heading to a party, concert, or another social event can be daunting when you’re skipping out on the alcohol. This is especially true if you know that your fellow partygoers will try to peer pressure you to drink.

Whether you’re taking a break, in recovery, or simply don’t feel like drinking, here are some tips to politely turn down alcohol—without making others uncomfortable or becoming the center of attention.

1. Avoid Social Pressure (When You Can)

Social pressure can make turning down drinking an uphill battle. And contrary to popular belief, peer pressure is still a common predicament in adult life.

In most cases, social pressure is avoidable by staying away from situations where people are drinking. But if you absolutely must attend an alcohol-fueled event, remember to load up your mental toolbox with ways to say no to alcohol.

2. Crack a Joke

Jokes can cut right through the tension when someone offers you a drink. If you want to take the humorous route, check out Claudia Christian’s tips in this holiday article for the funniest one-liners to help you turn down alcohol.

3. Be Direct & Honest

Sometimes, honesty really is the best policy; it all depends on if the people around you can respect your boundaries. When you’re with close friends or loved ones who know and understand you, they’ll generally sympathize with you and support you.

If you’re in a situation where you feel you can be honest, try the following:

  • “No thanks, I don’t drink anymore.”
  • “Alcohol doesn’t mix well with me.”
  • “I can’t. My alcohol use gets out of hand sometimes.”
  • “I’ve decided I just feel healthier without alcohol”

Or, if it applies, hit them with the simple phrase, “I’m in alcohol recovery/detox right now.” This might take some courage because of the stigma attached to alcoholism. However, most reasonable people will respect that answer (and respect you for your honesty, too).

4. Step into the Designated Driver Role

Being the sober cab is one of the easiest excuses for not drinking at a party. And if you’re the designated driver, you won’t have to do much explaining at all—everyone knows you can’t drink and drive.

Plus, you’ll get to see all your friends’ shenanigans from a sober point of view. And you’ll be the one telling the stories in the morning!

5. “I Have to Do *Insert Responsibility Here* in The Morning”

Whether you say you’ve got work, school, or another responsibility, no one can argue with obligations as an excuse for not drinking. Responsible adults have places to be and things to get done.

Tell them, “I can’t afford a hangover—I need enough brainpower to work tomorrow!”

6. Order an Alcohol-Free Drink

Having a drink already in your hand is a foolproof reason to say no to alcohol. Grab a non-alcoholic sparkling wine or other alcohol-free beverage to use as your “peer pressure repellent.”

Since you’ll already be holding a drink, it’s easy to say, “No thanks, I’ve already got one!”

7. Invent a Clever Excuse

Sometimes the only way to get people off your back is to give them an excuse they can’t argue with—whether it’s true or not! Try something like:

  • “I’m on a prescription that I can’t mix alcohol with.”
  • “I don’t feel very well, so I’m skipping drinking for the night.”
  • “I’m allergic.” (This is a good one if you’ve never met these people before and will never see them again.)
  • “I’m giving up drinking for lent/it’s against my religion.” (Again, another good one for strangers.)
  • “I’m trying to lose weight.”
  • “I’m training for an athletic competition.”

8. Find Support

If all your excuses for not drinking at a party fail, or if you know you’re around people who’ll be persistent in pressuring you, find a sober buddy to team up with.

You and a friend can work together to change the subject, steering the conversation elsewhere when someone offers one of you a drink. And if your goal is to drink a small amount, but avoid going overboard, the two of you can help each other stick to pre-set limits.

Stay on the Road to Recovery

Figuring out how to say no to alcohol can be tricky, especially when you’re attending events with people handing you drinks all night long.

This is where having a larger support system can be useful. Ria Health is an online program to help you quit or cut back on alcohol, all from a smartphone app. Members get weekly meetings with coaches, access to anti-craving medications, and even a Bluetooth breathalyzer to help them track their drinking.

It’s easier to stay accountable to your goals when you have support. And our program is flexible enough to fit your individual needs, without disrupting your daily life. Learn more about how it works.

Ever tried to pass on a drink at a party or bar only to end up as the punchline to every joke or pressured by your friends for the rest of the night? It can be tempting to give in, but there are ways to say no to another drink without feeling guilty or missing out on the fun.

Whether you’re trying to cut back on your drinking, avoid the extra calories in alcohol or are the designated driver, there is nothing wrong with drinking less or not drinking at all.

Learn to say no in a simple, direct way that leaves no room for argument. Try one of these lines next time your friend asks if you want a drink:

  1. No, thanks.
  2. I’m good.
  3. I’m driving tonight.
  4. I have an early morning tomorrow.
  5. I’m just not feeling it tonight.
  6. I need to cut back on my calories.
  7. Actually, can I get a water/soda/seltzer? (Hold a seltzer or soda to ward off questions.)
  8. I just finished one—give me a minute!
  9. I’m not feeling great. Trying to take it easy tonight.
  10. I don’t want to ruin my gym workout—sticking to a healthy diet right now.
  11. I’ve hit my limit.
  12. I don’t drink.

Even with these lines, you might still hear, “Come on! Just one?” But stay strong in your decision to cut back or not drink. If saying no makes you nervous, set a reminder on your phone while you’re out with the line you will use. Make a promise to yourself to stick with your decision—your body (and wallet) will thank you later!

There are many different reasons why you might want to stop drinking alcohol. These can include developing a health condition that could be affected by alcohol, religious reasons or simply because you want to have a healthier lifestyle. Whatever your reasons, once you have made the decision to stop drinking alcohol, this page contains some tips that may help.

Important: Before you stop drinking, talk to your GP or local health professional if you think that you will find it hard to stop drinking or if you are worried that you may be at risk of alcohol dependence. Our Support hub contains a list of national and regional alcohol services that can provide support, information and advice.

Make your intentions known

Everyone has their own personal reason for making this change. Tell your family and friends that you’re trying to stop drinking alcohol and explain why. This way, you can share your successes with them, and they’ll understand why you’ve started turning down drinks or trips to the pub. Frequently reminding yourself and the people close to you why you want to stop drinking can help keep you on track. It may even encourage someone else to give up or cut down with you.

Avoid temptation

In the early stages, it’s a good idea to avoid situations where you may be tempted to drink. This could mean opting out of the weekly pub quiz for a while, or if you tend to drink when eating out, try going to restaurants that don’t sell alcohol or simply volunteering to drive. Similarly, try to identify the times when you would usually drink and fill the gap with something else. So if you would usually head to the pub after work on a Friday evening, you could organise to meet friends at the cinema. Or if you’re giving up alcohol in pursuit of a new, healthier you, why not start taking a regular exercise class or a trip to the swimming pool to help you wind down?

Identifying your ‘triggers’ (times when you’re tempted to drink) is important, particularly if you’ve tried and struggled to stop drinking in the past. Try to identify why you were unsuccessful – did you still go to the pub most evenings? Did you explain your reasons for not drinking to your partner? Was alcohol still readily available at home?

Give up or gradually reduce your drinking?

If you want to stop drinking alcohol as part of a move towards a healthier lifestyle, cutting down on the amount of alcohol you drink as opposed to giving up alcohol completely can help bring lots of health benefits, and can be easier to stick to. Reducing the amount you drink can also be an effective stepping stone to giving up alcohol completely in the future.

If you drink every night at home in front of the TV, start by designating a couple of days a week as alcohol-free days. This can soon become a new habit and may encourage you to add even more alcohol-free days to the week. Always remember the low-risk guidelines – less than 11 standard drinks spread out over the week for women and less than 17 standard drinks for men. These drinks should never be saved up for one session and aim for at least two alcohol-free days in the week.

Reward progress

It’s important that you acknowledge the fact that making changes to your lifestyle can be difficult and that you reward yourself with something if you are making progress. It’s equally important not to be too hard on yourself if you slip up every once in a while. An easy way to keep track of how you’re doing and keep your motivation up is to give yourself short-term goals. Perhaps you could aim firstly for an alcohol-free week, then an alcohol-free month, for example.

If you tend to drink in front of the TV after work, try replacing that glass of wine with something else you enjoy, or treat yourself to some new clothes or a day out with the money you’re saving on alcohol. The cost of alcohol mounts up quickly – you could try putting aside the money you would normally spend on alcohol at home or while out, and spend it on another treat at the end of the week or the month.

Enjoy the benefits

Whether you’re cutting alcohol out of your life completely or cutting down gradually, you may notice a number of improvements to the way you look and feel. Among other things, you might find you have more energy, that you’re sleeping better, or that you’ve lost a bit of weight. In the long-term, you will also be helping to reduce your risk of developing alcohol-related health conditions including cancer, liver disease or heart disease and could lower your blood pressure.

“Don’t give people false hope. Don’t waste people’s time. And there is no need to apologise.”

How to turn down a drink

One of the best parts of dating is the thrill of attention – but when you’re not feeling it, it’s important to be up front and honest that you don’t want to take things any further. However, how exactly do you go about telling someone you’re not interested? We all know, after all, that rejection isn’t the easiest of experiences. Is there a way of letting someone down gently or being clear, honest and kind? Well, you’re in luck: men have been sharing their own experiences and explaining how they were turned down and how they would want to be rejected in future.

1. “‘I think you are a wonderful person, but I just don’t feel any attraction for you. Im sorry.’ It was the first time a woman was actually honest and didn’t try to say that I’m ‘too much like a brother’. It was refreshing and I gained a massive amount of respect for her.” [via]

2. “Straight up and honest. After the first date I called her a few days later to see if she wanted to hang out again, and she said, ‘Hey I think you’re great, but the chemistry just isn’t there’. Kind, honest, direct. You can’t go wrong. I thanked her for her honesty and I have always respected her for her honesty since then (we’re still social media friends).” [via]

How to turn down a drink

3. “‘Sorry but I’m not interested in a romantic or sexual relationship with you'”. Clear, succinct, and to the point.” [via]

4. “‘I’m not interested in dating right now, but thanks that meant a lot’.” I’m not even sure why, but I’m like. cool?” [via]

“Clear, succinct, and to the point”

5. “‘I don’t have feelings for you, and I’m so sorry but if I’ve learned anything it’s to not stay and try to force feelings’. We were talking for like three weeks but it was an awesome rejection because it also gave me advice for the future as well!” [via]

6. “A very blunt, ‘No thank you’.” [via]

7. “If you aren’t going to say ‘yes’ then a fast, polite and clear ‘no’ is the nicest option. Don’t give people false hope. Don’t waste people’s time. I would add that there is no need to apologise. People have right to say ‘no’. There’s nothing to apologise for.” [via]

How to turn down a drink

8. “Politely declining and commemorating them for asking is the best way to go about it, and doing this will most likely make them feel better about rejection.” [via]

9. “‘Thanks, I’m flattered, but I’m not interested’.” [via]

10. “‘I think you’re attractive, but I’m not romantically interested in you’.” Always nice to pair rejection with a compliment.” [via]

How to turn down a drink

11. “I asked a woman to a dinner and a movie, she politely declined with, ‘I would but I’ve been talking to someone for a few weeks and it wouldn’t be fair to either of you’. I appreciated her up-front honesty.” [via]

12. “Any time I get a straight answer I’m thankful. It doesn’t even have to be particularly kind. Just don’t play games.” [via]

13. “‘Oh I’m not interested, but I know it was probably hard to ask me out. I’m sorry. Hope you have a nice day.’ She was a sweet girl. I wish her nothing but the best.” [via]

Are you considering cutting back on the amount of alcohol you drink? Here’s some tips to help you out.

Whether you’re wanting to cut back because you’ve noticed your one glass of wine every couple of nights with dinner has turned into every night, or you’re wanting to lose weight or feel better overall, cutting back on the amount of alcohol you drink can benefit your mind and body in many ways.

Not only will it reduce your risk of alcohol-caused disease such as cancer and stroke, but you’ll see short-term benefits too. Think improved mood and decreased anxiety, increase energy levels, better sleep, brighter skin and a slimmer waistline, not to mention the cost-savings.

Health experts recommend to reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, healthy men and women should:

  • drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week; and
  • drink no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day. 1

Top four tips

Set yourself a drink limit and count your drinks.

Set yourself a drink limit that is consistent with advice from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), which is no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 in a single drinking session and stop once you’ve reached it. You’ll find you can do without that extra drink after all and your body will thank you for it the next day.

Have a few alcohol-free days each week.

Having a few alcohol-free days each week will help you stay healthy and break any bad habits, such as reaching for a drink each day after work. Take this opportunity to adopt some other healthy behaviours, such as eating well and exercising.

Use our ‘drinking levels and your risk’ tool to see the benefit of reducing how many times a week you drink.

Swap to low or no alcohol alternatives.

Low and no alcohol products are a good alternative for people who want to reduce their drinking – they have the same or similar taste but contain less alcohol. There are an ever increasing range of low and no alcohol products available at many retailers.

Keep up your water and food intake.

If you’re thirsty, reach for water or a non-alcohol alternative instead of alcohol.

And make sure to alternate your alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. A glass of water, soda water, juice or soft drink will do the trick.

Drinking on an empty stomach will increase the rate that alcohol is metabolised in your body. Eating before or while you drink alcohol will help it be absorbed into the bloodstream at a lower rate. 2

Regardless of how much food you eat or water you drink, our bodies only break down one standard drink of alcohol every hour, on average. So sculling a glass of water or having a plate of food after you’ve started drinking won’t necessarily help reduce the effect alcohol has on our body or reduce our blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

If you’re wanting to reduce how much you drink at home, try some of these tips

Limit how much alcohol you keep in the house.

If it’s not there, you can’t drink it! It’s like chocolate – easy access is the ultimate enabler, and if all it takes is opening the fridge then you’re potentially on a slippery slope to being tempted.

If you’re not ready to make your house a drink-free zone, just avoid stocking up on alcohol at the next trip to the bottle shop. Research tells us the more alcohol we buy, the more likely we are to drink it sooner than we had intended. So, while you might have good intentions to stock up for two weeks, you might find yourself coming up empty sooner rather than later.

Keep attractive non-alcoholic options at home.

In addition to the range of non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirit options available, keeping your house stocked with good teas, sparkling water, and other non-alcoholic drinks will also help. Substituting alcoholic drinks with tasty non-alcoholic drinks is a good alternative for people choosing to reduce their intake.

Change your “after work routine”.

If you’ve gotten into the habit of reaching for a glass of wine or a beer after work to help de-stress, try changing up your routine by finding some healthier alternatives.

For example, try finding an after work activity, such as going for a walk or run or doing another form of activity, get into another hobby that doesn’t involve alcohol, or if you’re keen for a drink, try putting the kettle on or reaching for a tasty non-alcohol alternative.

Delay that first drink.

The earlier you start drinking, the longer a drinking session can become. If you choose to drink, find a milestone in your day that isn’t until later in the evening such as dinner or after you exercise to have a drink. The later you start drinking, the less alcohol you are likely to consume.

Drink only with dinner.

Rather than having a few drinks before dinner, wait until dinner is served. One full strength stubbie of beer or a glass of wine has around 1.5 standard drinks, so why not only limit your evening drink to only one with dinner?

If you’re going out, here are some things you can do to reduce your drinking

  • If you’re going to a friends’ place, limit how much alcohol you take with you and make sure you have a variety of non-alcoholic alternatives.
  • If you’re heading out for the night, avoid drinking in rounds. Research tells us drinking in rounds results in people drinking more than they planned.
  • If you’re wanting to limit how much you drink, the best excuse is to be the designated driver!
  • Set a budget on how much you will spend on alcohol in any period.
  • Find social alternatives that doesn’t involve alcohol. For example, pick a location to catch up with a friend where alcohol isn’t easily available, such as at the beach, a picnic or the movies.

Need to break the news to your friends or family you’re cutting back or taking a break from drinking? Here’s some tips.

Telling friends or family you’re wanting to reduce your drinking can be tricky, particularly if regular drinking is common.

Try rehearsing a few standard responses – this may be helpful if people are bugging you to drink more. And have a safety/escape plan if you find yourself feeling vulnerable.

Practice saying no. It may be difficult at first, but you will be surprised how quickly it can become comfortable to ‘say no’ and others will get used to it.

  • Some key phrases to respond when caught by surprise or feeling pressured to drink more, “I’m pacing myself”, “I’m on a health kick” or “I’m trying to cut back”.
  • Think about your non-drinking or low-drinking friends – invite them out so you’re not the only one not drinking in the group and you can come up with strategies together.

Best case scenario, get others on board to help keep you accountable! You and your partner, friend or family member can enjoy the benefits of drinking less together.

If you’re keen to cut back on your drinking but need some motivation or someone to help you accountable, there are a range of apps or online support groups to help people set goals, intentions, reasons not to drink and track success so far. For example, check out Hello Sunday Morning – online encouragement and support about changing one’s relationship with alcohol.

National Health and Medical Research Council. (2020). Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Paton, A. (2005). Alcohol in the body. Bmj, 330 (7482), 85-87.

Tequila is bae.

Emily Dickinson

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Do you have those friends who when you go to a bar they can never decide what kind of round they want to get? They argue between Fireball, vodka and the cringe worthy Jager bombs. Do you want to know the secret to shutting them all up and having an amazing time? That’s right, tequila.

If you choose tequila, not only will you be having a blast dancing the night away, but you could even be doing your body a favor (in moderation of course.)

Here are some reasons to take a shot:

1. Watching Your Weight? Drink Without Regret.

How to turn down a drink

GIF courtesy of

Studies have shown that a sweetener created from the plant used to make Tequila could lower your blood sugar levels. Not only does it do that, but it also aids in weight loss. Pretty cool if you ask me.

2. Hangovers are Now a Thing of the Past.

How to turn down a drink

Gif courtsey of

This one I know no one will believe, but Tequila doesn’t really give you a hangover. You probably think I’m nuts for saying that, but if you drink that real 100% agave tequila, your tequila nightmares will become memories of the past.

3. Feeling Pain? Kiss it Goodbye with a Shot.

How to turn down a drink

GIF courtesy of

If you’re having a tough time, you know you reach for that bottle of tequila. But do you know why? It’s because it literally numbs pain. It’s proven to dilate blood vessels, which in return, results in better blood flow and minimizes pain levels. Pain in the heart also becomes minimized after a few swigs.

4. Diabetics, Feel Free to Indulge.

How to turn down a drink

GIF courtesy of

If you’re diabetic, take a shot! The high amount of sugar that is found in most alcohols is not found in tequila. Since it has very low sugar, it has less of an impact on blood sugar levels. Drink away without the worries of rising blood sugar levels.

5. Bye-Bye Beer Belly!

How to turn down a drink

GIF courtesy of

You can kiss that nasty bloated feeling you get from alcohol goodbye! Tequila helps regulate absorption of fat in your intestines, so long beer belly.

How to turn down a drink

GIF courtesy of

Not only are all these health benefits awesome, but everyone loves that person who shows up to the party with a bottle of tequila. You know they came to get the party started and have a great time. So, next time you’re wondering what to order at the bar, or how to impress a date, ask for tequila and reap all the benefits that come along with it.

Want more boozy facts? Read up:

How to turn down a drinkIf you’re in recovery from alcohol addiction, it’s going to be impossible to avoid situations where other people are drinking all of the time.

At some point, you will find yourself at a party, BBQ, work event, or wedding reception where you are being offered a drink. Your best option is to make a plan for these situations so you can respond with confidence.

How to Turn Down Alcohol in Social Settings Confidently

The following are suggestions for ways you can turn down alcohol and feel confident about socializing while sober. Keep in mind that most people who are hosting an event just want their guests to have a good time. They may be asking whether you would like a drink to ensure that you are being properly “looked after” and aren’t keeping track of who is drinking alcohol and who is sticking to soft drinks.

“No, thank you.”

If someone offered you something from a plate of finger foods and you didn’t want anything being offered, you would politely turn it down. No one would expect you to explain.

“No” is a complete answer. You aren’t required to say anything more than that if you don’t wish to. No one is owed an explanation of why you don’t want to drink alcohol.

Say you’re not drinking

If your host asks what you’re drinking, you may want to deal with the situation up front and say, “What do you have that’s alcohol-free?” or just ask for a soda or a fruit juice. Most people who are hosting events will offer a variety of drinks, including non-alcoholic options for guests who are choosing not to drink.

Keep a glass in your hand

One strategy you can use to stop fellow guests from encouraging you to visit the bar with them for an alcoholic drink is to keep a non-alcoholic drink with you during the event. When other people see you with a glass of sparkling water, club soda, or cranberry juice, they will think you already have a drink. No one needs to know that you aren’t drinking alcohol.

“I’m driving tonight.”

If you state that you’re not drinking alcohol because you are the designated driver for the evening, very few people will challenge your statement. No one wants to appear to encourage drinking and driving, which has the potential to lead to death or serious injury, as well as property damage.

“I’m on medication, so I’ll have to pass.”

Many people take medication for a number of medical conditions. A pharmacist may caution a patient not to drink until the prescription is completed.

“I’m on a diet and I can’t afford the empty calories.”

Just about everyone can appreciate someone who is “budgeting” their calories to avoid overeating on a particular occasion. Each alcoholic drink contains approximately 100-150 calories with no nutritional value.

“I’m in recovery from alcohol abuse.”

Depending on how comfortable you feel about the subject, you may decide to just tell your truth and be done with it. It doesn’t have to be an announcement that you share with everyone at the event.

You can say you’re in recovery matter-of-factly to your host or whoever is offering you an alcoholic drink. To avoid making the other person (and anyone within hearing distance) feel awkward, you could follow up with another sentence stating that you don’t have a problem with other people drinking. Then move on to say you’re fine for right now or you’d like a non-alcoholic drink of some type, etc.

Alcohol Addiction and Recovery Are Not Uncommon

If you decide to be open about your recovery status, you may be surprised at how supportive other people in your circle of acquaintances can be. Most people probably know someone (or know of someone) who either is struggling with an addiction or is in recovery.

You may be inspiring to someone else if you decide to be open about your recovery. You’re living proof that someone can get sober and live well. There are no rules, though, so take it on a case-by-case basis when you’re socializing with friends or colleagues in places where alcohol is being served. If you have some strategies prepared in advance, you’ll find this situation much easier to navigate.

It can be super easy for a few drinks to turn into a few too many. But regardless of what your mates are doing, you don’t have to go all out on the beers. Here are some tips to help you enjoy a few drinks without giving in to pressure to get completely wasted.

Set your limits

Before you start drinking, decide how many drinks you’ll have and then stick to that number. A bunch of clever scientists have recommended that we have no more than four alcoholic drinks on any day. Everyone’s tolerance is different, so choose a number that works for you, rather than for your mates.

You might want to think about how expensive drinks are. Before you head out for the night, check how much money you’ve got and make a sober and sensible decision about what you can afford to spend.

You also need to remember that not all alcoholic drinks contain the same amount of alcohol. See below for what a ‘standard drink’ looks like for different types of drinks.

Avoid drinking too quickly

Spacing out your drinks can stop you from getting drunk. Try leaving a certain amount of time between drinks (e.g. an hour), and making sure the time has passed before you get a new drink.

Just got a delish craft beer? Savour it by drinking it more slowly. That way you’re enjoying it more, and get more bang for your buck. Swapping in water or a soft drink between the booze (and drinking the alcoholic ones slowly) can help, too.

Try saying no

Peer pressure can be hard to resist, but if you’ve had enough, say ‘No, thanks’ when someone offers to buy you a drink. You can tell them you’re good for now, and then change the subject. Keeping track of how much you’re drinking is more important than keeping pace with other people.

It’s understandable to be worried your friends will make fun of you for not drinking, but this actually rarely happens. Most friends (the good ones) won’t stop hanging out with you just because you don’t drink as quickly as them.

Avoid drinking rounds and shots

There’s nothing wrong with buying your mates a drink, but if you’re with a group of seven, it can quickly turn into a full-on, expensive drinking session. That could derail your plans to not get drunk and may break your bank.

It’s also a good idea to stick to drinks you can sip, rather than shots, as it’s easier to space them out. Tell your mates you don’t want a shot, or just conveniently disappear when they’re heading to the bar.

Water and food are your friends

For every alcoholic drink, have a glass of water or a soft drink (you don’t have to tell anyone it’s not alcoholic). Make sure you also have a meal if you’re drinking. It helps to slow the effects of the alcohol and is (hopefully) also delicious.

Focus on other things

Try to join in an activity while you’re drinking, such as playing pool. Remember that if you’re in a bad mood already, drinking alcohol won’t help. Try doing something else that’s relaxing, or talk to someone about what’s on your mind.

Have a plan B

Get a mate to help keep track of your drinking and remind you to slow down and not do stupid stuff. If that fails, that mate can help look after you if you drink too much.

Before you start drinking, make a plan for where you’ll sleep that night. Put money aside for a taxi or Uber in case you need to get home quickly.

Have a good time

You can still have a really good time even if you’re not drinking much. Focus on the people you’re chatting with and the conversation you’re having (or the dancing you’re doing). One of the best parts of not getting drunk is that you’re less likely to have regrets the next morning. Plus, there’s less chance of a hangover, which is always a win!

Restaurants and bars face unique risks and complexities. As an alcohol-serving establishment, your business can be especially vulnerable to legal challenges. Do your bartenders know when to stop serving patrons? Do they know what signs to look for in an intoxicated person?

When Does a Bartender Have the Right to Refuse Service to a Patron?

At some point or another a bartender will likely have to address a belligerent or very intoxicated person. Below are several legitimate reasons to refuse service to a patron:

  • Underage individuals
  • Those who have over-consumed are showing symptoms of intoxication
  • Excessively rowdy or unruly customers
  • A person is harassing staff or other customers
  • Your establishment is at capacity

Right to Refuse Service – Steps

First, a server or bartender should take steps to slow down service and make sure a manager is included in the loop. The manager should keep a close eye on the situation to decide the appropriate next steps. Consider offering food and water. Try to slow down service as much as possible by making yourself less available to the patron. Regardless, always call a manager if you feel someone has been overserved. An intoxicated person should never get behind the wheel, impaired driving carries serious consequences.

What to Say When Refusing Service

Don’t cut anyone off in front of others if you can help it. The manager should request the person to accompany him or her off to the side or a somewhat quieter place to break the news (but never alone. Take a buddy). Keep it calm and state the facts. Do not be accusatory or aggressive. “I think you should call it a night. We are not serving you anymore. Do you have a ride, or can I call you a car?” Instruct your bartenders to not serve the patron anymore. Don’t negotiate.

Potential Signs of an Intoxicated Person

  • Loud or agitated speech
  • Ordering drinks rapidly
  • Slurred speech
  • Stumbling
  • Spilling drinks
  • Appears drowsy
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Blood shot eyes

Under What Conditions Can a Business Not Refuse Service?

Enforced by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a business cannot refuse service based on:

  • Race or color
  • National origin or citizenship status
  • Religion or creed
  • Sex or Sexual Orientation
  • Age
  • Disability, pregnancy, or genetic information
  • Veteran status

Always review your state laws in addition to this list. Some states offer additional protections that your business must be aware of and adhere to. Your right to refuse service applies to certain criteria.

Consequences of Over-Serving Customers

Bartenders who serve intoxicated customers may be at risk for legal and civil charges as a result. Many states have legislation in place that allows prosecution and civil suits of commercial establishments that serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals or minors.

Restaurants and bars are also at risk of litigation. Dram Shop liability laws govern commercial establishments that sell and serve alcoholic beverages to people who are intoxicated, or to minors, who go on to cause harm or death to themselves or others. Most states have some sort of dram shop law in effect.

Importance of Regular Training for Employees

Safeguard your business, employees and customers by implementing regular and recurring service training, including how to deal with intoxicated patrons. Society Insurance has a partnership in place that provides discounts for Society policyholders to use any service offered by ServSafe – this includes alcohol service training.

View our risk management library for more safety resources for your business. Our bar and restaurant insurance programs are tailored to the unique needs of your business and your local Society agent will help you to determine the insurance coverage necessary to protect your livelihood.

When you drink alcohol, you don’t digest alcohol. It passes quickly into your bloodstream and travels to every part of your body. Alcohol affects your brain first, then your kidneys, lungs and liver. The effect on your body depends on your age, gender, weight and the type of alcohol.

How alcohol travels through your body

Your bloodstream distributes alcohol quickly to your brain, kidney, lungs and liver. On average, your liver takes an hour to break down one unit of alcohol. This can depend on:

  • your weight
  • your gender
  • your age
  • how quickly your body turns food into energy
  • how much food you’ve eaten
  • the strength and type of alcohol
  • any medicine you’re taking


If your weight is low, you feel the effects of alcohol more quickly because you have less tissue to absorb alcohol.

Most children and young people are smaller and weigh less than adults. Alcohol can affect them quickly. Children and young people’s brains are still developing, so even small amounts of alcohol can be damaging.

Your body changes as you reach old age. You have increased body fat and decreased body water. This affects how your body processes alcohol. If you still drink the same amount of alcohol you drank in adulthood, you feel the effects more severely. Older people who drink too much alcohol are at greater risk of physical and mental health problems including:

  • stroke
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • depression
  • confusion
  • dementia


Alcohol affects women more quickly than men. Women are usually smaller and weigh less than men, and have less tissue to absorb alcohol.

A woman’s body has more fat and less water than a man’s body. If a man and woman are the same size and drink the same amount, the alcohol is stronger in the woman’s blood than in the man’s. The woman will get drunk more quickly and feel the effects for longer.

Alcohol also stays in women’s blood for longer. They have lower levels of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol.

Women feel the effects of alcohol more quickly before a period and during ovulation. The contraceptive pill can have the opposite effect – it takes longer for alcohol to leave the body. A woman in this situation might drink more than she realises before she feels the effects.


You absorb 20 per cent of alcohol into your bloodstream through your stomach and the rest into your bloodstream through your small intestine.

Drinking a small amount of alcohol stimulates your appetite because it increases the flow of stomach juices. A large amount of alcohol dulls your appetite and can cause malnutrition.

You can develop a stomach ulcer by drinking too much alcohol. This can happen when the stimulated gastric juices mix with the high alcohol content and irritate your stomach lining.


When alcohol enters your bloodstream, it widens your blood vessels. This causes:

  • blushing, as there is a greater flow of blood to the skin surface
  • a temporary feeling of warmth
  • heat loss and a rapid decrease in body temperature
  • a drop in blood pressure


Alcohol dulls the parts of your brain that control how your body works. This affects your actions and your ability to make decisions and stay in control. Alcohol influences your mood and can also make you feel down or aggressive.

As the concentration of alcohol in your bloodstream increases, your behaviour and body functions change. At first, you may feel happy and less inhibited, but after several drinks you’ll probably:

  • slur your words
  • have blurred vision
  • lose your coordination

There is no immediate way to sober up. It takes time for your body to process alcohol. The morning after a heavy night’s drinking, you are likely to have a high concentration of alcohol in your bloodstream.

You may not be sober or safe to drive a vehicle. The legal alcohol limit for driving measures the amount of alcohol in your breath, blood or urine.


Alcohol is a diuretic and increases urine production. When you drink alcohol, you need to urinate more often. This causes thirst and dehydration.


When alcohol is fizzy, you can inhale this. From your lungs, alcohol goes quickly into your bloodstream.


When you drink alcohol, your liver oxidises 95 per cent of it. This means your liver converts alcohol into water and carbon monoxide. Your liver can only oxidise one unit of alcohol an hour.

Drinking with an empty or full stomach

If you drink alcohol with an empty stomach, the alcohol passes directly into your bloodstream. If you’ve eaten before drinking, the rate of alcohol absorption slows down but doesn’t stop.

Types of drink

Alcohol mixed with water or fruit juice is absorbed more slowly. Alcohol mixed with fizzy drinks or mixers is absorbed more quickly.

These tips prove that teetotaling really isn’t that hard—and it can benefit you in more ways than you realize.

How to turn down a drink

When I first considered giving up drinking, one of my biggest concerns was that sobriety would water down my social life. I didn’t want to be that wet blanket at a party, floating awkwardly around the room like a ghost of hangovers past: ” Beware Ebenezer … that spiked eggnog is really going to come back and haunt you!“

I also wondered how I was going to swallow the anxiety stew of a socializing without being able to chase it with a little liquid confidence. But what I quickly learned was that forgoing alcohol at a party not only became easier over time, it also reminded me why I was actually there. Here are five easy steps to continue partying like a rock star while also turning down your alcohol by volume.

STEP 1: Forget about what other people think.

The moment you walk into a party, eliminate the concern that anyone gives a squat about what you’re drinking. Unless you’re waving around a five-dollar milk shake and smacking your lips, saying mmm after each sip, the drink in your hand might as well be a urine sample: No one is going to ask you for a taste. If you need a good decoy, remember that Coke in a wine glass looks like cab, seltzer with a splash of cranberry juice is rosé, and anything in a rocks glass could be a cocktail. But again, forget worrying that the contents of your cup are somehow going to out you as a party pooper.

STEP 2: Own your party sobriety.

Two of the hardest partiers to ever walk the earth, buddies of mine from college who went by the names “Kool-Aid” and “Butts,” both gave up drinking a number of years ago and yet still manage to be the life of every party. So when I hauled myself onto the wagon, I turned to them for advice. “You have to own it,” they both agreed. Beyond all the sneaky tactics, nothing is more empowering than just being open with your sobriety and maybe having a good joke to disarm people’s questions. “When people ask why I’m not drinking, I tell them I’m allergic,” Butts told me. “Whenever I drink, I break out into handcuffs.”

STEP 3: Bring your own beverages.

Don’t get stuck drinking tap water or some dusty artifact from the depths of your host’s fridge. Along with a bottle of wine to give as a gift, bring your own fakies. Motto, Spindrift or any number of nonalcoholic beers will do the trick. Some turn to energy drinks as N/A options, but be careful not to latch onto something especially sugary, otherwise you’ll be waking up with the very hangover you were trying to avoid. And if you’re really going to own it, come equipped with your own makings for a top-notch mocktail. Nothing says “I’m here to party” quite like walking in with your own cocktail shaker.

STEP 4: Be productive, not destructive.

There’s no better scenario to flex your sober muscles than at the annual company party. Countless careers have been lost during that two-hour hall pass during which co-workers tie one on. So while your fellow co-workers are crossbreeding the chicken with the Macarena, take advantage of that night out with your boss to earn some brownie points. Because company parties are like weddings: Who really wants to be there anyway?

STEP 5: Embrace the food.

Those pigs in blankets and other party snacks taste even better when they’re the focus of your attention instead of the drinks. Plus, people tend to congregate around the food so you won’t lose out on any of the action.

STEP 6: Focus on the conversation, not the FOMO

We all have it to some degree or another: that little voice inside of heads that worries we’re missing out on something. This fear can become particularly pronounced as you watch your friends getting looser and laughing louder with each drink. But don’t indulge in the fear of missing out. Instead, focus on the reason why you’re there: not to indulge in drinks, but the rare privilege of making a true connection with others.

See, my ultimate takeaway from my temperate period was that I learned to enjoy my company more. Conversation became sport. My true friendships rose to the surface, and I was able to see more clearly which actually held value and which were being held tenuously together by Jose Cuervo, Johnnie Walker, and the other cast of characters that were no longer part of my crew.

Coworker is pushing me to go drinking with her, but I generally abstain from alcohol. She’s higher up than me in the “food chain”, so to speak, and is great friends with my boss.

I’m not sure how to go about this. I generally stay away from alcohol since alcohol has some bad memories of some relatives. In any case, what is the most polite way of turning down a drink? I’ve tried just saying “No” or “I’ll think about it” but almost every day she is asking me to have a drink.

What is the best way to approach this? I want to give a firm answer that won’t have her leaving follow-ups a few days later.

How to turn down a drink

3 Answers 3

You can go with her without having an alcoholic drink.

If she offers you alcohol, simply say “sorry, I won’t touch alcohol if I’m driving” (assuming you’re driving) or you can go with a very simple “I appreciate the offer, but I don’t drink” and order something non-alcoholic.

If the issue is that you don’t want to go out in a social situation with her, just keep saying no, or tell her you have plans immediately after work which can’t change – have to give someone a ride, or do some shopping, take care of a friend/family member, tend to pets, etc.

almost every day she is asking me to have a drink

This borders on harassing behavior. “No, thank you” should be a sufficient response. Do not tell her “I’ll think about it” because that leaves the door open to a near-future “yes” answer.

Is it possible that she has a drinking problem herself, if she’s going out for drinks nearly daily?

Cyberpunk 2077 gives players a lot of choices, from how you approach missions to how you deal with interpersonal situations. This freedom extends to character-creator options you’ll never even think about again, like choosing your character’s teeth or genitals. But one bit of choice I wasn’t expecting, and which I can’t remember seeing in a game before, is that you can turn down alcohol when a character offers it to you.

Spoiler warning: There are vague spoilers for characters throughout Cyberpunk you might not have met yet if you’re early in the game. I’ve mostly left them unnamed, and it’s nothing major, but if you want to discover absolutely everything for yourself, you’ve been warned.

Cyberpunk portrays a gritty, underground world of the future, and as such there are a lot of scenes in bars. While I used to go out of my way to drink and visit bars in video games, I feel differently about all that now that I’m sober . On top of all the ways I’ve had to change my life and myself to stay sober, I’ve also had to ingrain the simple but wildly difficult habit of not picking up booze and putting it in my mouth. It’s taken a lot of conscious thought and practice; I get nervous when I have to carry someone’s drink for them in real life, even if I feel confident I won’t drink it. I still really like bars, both in games and in real life, but now they’re sites of anxiety as much as they’re fun. I worry I’ll be tempted to drink, or that people will comment uncomfortably on my choices. I don’t get upset when my video game characters drink or go to bars—breaking my sobriety in a game is not the same to me as breaking it in real life—but having the choice wrested from me can remind me of the compulsive habit my drinking once was.

My sobriety made me hyper-aware of an early Cyberpunk scene where a drink was poured for my character V. A woman I needed to meet with ordered drinks for both me and her. I braced myself for my character to drink, only to find during the course of our interaction that I was never forced to pick the drink up. When we moved to a new location, she chugged her drink, but I was able to leave mine untouched.

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Here are a few tips for letting people down easily when you’re not feeling a love connection.

Despite what we see in movies, getting asked out on a date isn’t always a magical, flattering experience. In fact, chances are good that you aren’t actually interested in the person and have no interest in seeing them socially or romantically. Having said that, turning someone down is never easy either—especially if you’re caught off-guard.

When that happens, it can cause you to be awkward, say something stupid, or even hurt someone unintentionally. These tips won’t help much after the fact, but it’s good advice to keep in mind so you’re prepared to handle things flawlessly next time.

Here are a few tips for letting people down easily when you’re not feeling a love connection.

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Be honest, swift, and direct

It’s awkward turning someone down—especially if they make some wildly romantic gesture —but honesty is the best policy when you want to keep people from getting too hurt. First, you need to be honest with yourself. Everybody deserves a chance, but sometimes you just know it’s not going to work, so if you don’t feel any kind of connection, it’s best not to drag things on because you want to be nice. Don’t agree to a date out of pity—it can be a waste of both your time, and the other person could get more hurt in the process.

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Don’t make up lies, but be graciously honest. If you already have a boyfriend or girlfriend, let the person know. If you don’t have a sweetheart, but you are still not interested, tell him or her the truth. It’s okay to simply say, “No, thank you.” If it’s true, you can tell him or her that you are just not interested in dating anyone right now.

You don’t owe them an explanation, but if you actually have a good reason there’s no harm in mentioning it. When it comes to turning someone down, being active is always better than being passive. Address it as soon as you have the chance; don’t stall, avoid confrontation, or just assume that they will eventually “take the hint.” Give a definitive “no” so both of you can move on with your lives.

Treat them how you’d want to be treated

A direct “no” can sound pretty harsh if it isn’t handled tactfully, so always try to apply the golden rule to these situations. There’s no reason to be offended or act like you’re disgusted (unless they’re intentionally being offensive or disgusting). It’s flattering to get asked out, so be polite and try to at least show some appreciation for the thought . Remember, it takes a lot of courage to approach someone, especially in person.

How Being Humble, Kind, and Calm Will Make Your Life Easier

You’ve heard it all your life: Being humble, kind, and calm is the “right thing to do.” But if that

Dr. Neil Clark Warren, founder of eHarmony, suggests you show them the same respect you would want if the tables were turned. Always keep your tone in mind, stay calm and be gentle, while you also make sure you still sound assured.

Lastly, keep the situation to yourself. If you’re in a group situation or share the same friends, don’t tell everyone what happened. If you’ve turned someone down, they already feel rejected and don’t need to add embarrassment to the list.

Use “I” statements to keep it about you

If you choose to explain to someone why you’re not interested in them, try and keep the reasoning about you, not the other person. Listing reasons of why they don’t “measure up” can come off as rude, condescending, and also damage their confidence to approach people in the future. Susan RoAne, communication expert and author of What Do I Say Next?, recommends you use “I” statements instead. Here are some examples:

  • I don’t see you that way, I’m sorry.
  • I’ve really enjoyed talking with you, but I don’t feel a connection between us.
  • I’m trying to do my own thing right now so I’m not looking to date anyone.
  • I think you’re great, but I’m looking for something else right now.

You’re not bringing them down or putting yourself above them, you’re just explaining your perspective. Think of it as a pre-emptive “it’s not you, it’s me” speech. Only this way, nobody is getting nearly as hurt.

Make things clear and final

When you turn someone down, do it nicely, but make sure they know it’s final. Don’t keep people on the hook. You might think you’re being nice by saying “let’s be friends” or “why don’t we get to know each other first,” but it’s only going to blow up in your face down the line if you don’t mean it.

On her blog, author Marcella Purnama explains that there’s no need to be overly sympathetic or friendly after the fact:

After being rejected, the door is sometimes not yet fully closed and prone to be opened by the slightest friendly action. Don’t let him think that there’s still hope when there’s not.

There’s no need to call, text, or even be Facebook friends if that’s not something you want. As dating expert Christie Hartman, Ph.D. explains, only say “let’s be friends” if you actually want that and have a very strong reason to believe it will work. Otherwise, this can be confusing to them; they might think your initial “no” just means “not right now.” If you’re not into them, be respectful and let them know it’s never going to happen.

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Knowing University Policy

Consistent with the drinking laws in New Jersey, University policy prohibits the consumption and serving of alcoholic beverages by and to persons under 21. Intoxication is not a valid excuse for violating University regulations. For more information about Princeton University’s alcohol policies, see: Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students’ website.

UMatter – Limits Matter

Limits Matter provides resources to help you make decisions about alcohol and understand the importance of bystander intervention. If you choose not to drink, Limits Matter has tips on how to politely turn down a drink and ways to respond if someone asks you why you’re not drinking. If you do choose to drink, learn how to drink smart and avoid the negative effects of drinking too much.


Students wondering how risky their current alcohol use is can take this ten-question, anonymous online screening. Based on responses, students are asked a series of open-ended questions to help them think about how they might lower their risk when it comes to alcohol.

On- and Off-Campus Resources


On-campus Alcohol Anonymous (AA) Meetings take place: (Sundays, 9:30 a.m., Murray-Dodge, Basement Cafe)

Limits Matter Booklet (PDF): Answers to Your Questions About Alcohol Use, Policies and Resources at Princeton University

[email protected] is a resource for students who are either in recovery from drugs and alcohol or who are in trouble from drugs and alcohol. It is an organic group started by students and two administrators who were and are in recovery. They gather once a month for dinner to discuss the particular challenges of recovery at Princeton University. All discussions are confidential. To obtain more information email a confidential email, [email protected]


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) (See a list of New-Jersey area meetings) Many local groups have begun to utilize virtual meetings. View the continuously updated spreadsheet.