“Let me buy you a drink.”
“What are you drinking? My shout.”
“C’mon just one drink, it’s not going to make a difference.”
What do you say when other’s offer you a drink in social situations?
Are you worried about feeling in control of the conversation as you make changes to your drinking habits?
While you don’t owe anyone an explanation about your reason for not drinking, having a set of responses ready to go can make all the difference in backing yourself and feeling confident.
Being prepared for questions ultimately gives you power over your decision, and minimises any feelings of anxiousness you may be working through. Workshopping a series of short scripts to communicate to friends and strangers that you aren’t drinking could help these questions become a non-issue.
If you’re anxious about how a conversation might escalate, preparing responses in advance for all sorts of social situations can be extremely empowering. It enables you to think through each scenario ahead of time and rehearse what you’ll say. It also helps you stay focussed on your goal and feel better about resisting pressure to accept a drink.
If you’re still feeling social anxiety without alcohol, try matching your prepared responses with visualisation strategies and soothing exercises for self-care. Check out Hello Sunday Morning’s consulting psychologist, Briony Leo’s encouraging tips in our recent Hello Sunday Morning Tips and Hacks series.
At the end of the day, any strategy before you step into a room could help ease any anxiety in a conversation, and support you in articulating your choices.
Let’s try these common scenarios:
Person offers: Would you like a drink? Let me buy you a drink?
- No, thank you, I’m not drinking tonight
- I’m good – thanks anyway
- No thanks – I’m taking a break from drinking
- No thanks – I’m tonight’s designated driver
- Thanks, that’s OK, I don’t drink. What else do you have? Do you have soda water?
- No thanks, I’ve got an early start tomorrow / have to work / have an early appointment.
Person persists: They’re not taking ‘no’ for an answer
- No, thank you, I’m not drinking tonight
- I’m just not drinking right now
- No, thanks, I don’t want to
- No thanks, I’m on a health kick right now
- Thanks, but I took a break from alcohol and really liked the difference
- I decided to make some changes in my life and alcohol was one of them. Thanks for your offer though
- I really appreciate the offer, I’m cutting back (or not drinking) right now
(to focus on my health / to take care of myself) and I’d really appreciate it if you’d help me out.
Person continues to persist: Asks you more in-depth questions, continues to push the point, or even buys you a drink and ignores your response.
- I really appreciate you offering, but honestly, I feel much better when I’m not drinking
- I’ve realised I’m much happier without a drink, but thanks for the offer
- I’ve had some health effects from drinking, so I’m really focussing on taking care of myself right now
- Please don’t let my decision stop you from having a drink, I’m honestly happy hanging out with my water / soda / soft drink.
Person suggests meeting up for a drink
- I’d love to catch up, but I’m not drinking right now
- I’d love to catch up, but as I’m not drinking right now, can we meet for a coffee instead?
- It would be great to see you, but I’m having a break from alcohol. How about we meet for a walk / go to a movie / head out for brunch instead?
Knowing your ‘no’ and being sure of yourself
The Hello Sunday Morning team have compiled a host of other suggestions too.
While every person’s experience with alcohol and approaching sobriety can be different, knowing your ‘no’ and having resistance strategies will help you relax into the social events you may have been previously dreading.
And, in addition to the words we bring to a conversation, our energy and focus can also make a difference:
- Deliver your response in a clear, firm, and friendly way
- Avoid vague answers or long-winded explanations that you feel like you can’t get away from
- Rehearsing your words in a positive way, or giving questions minimal time, can be just as effective. “No, thank you, I’m not drinking tonight” can be short, sweet and to the point.
Perhaps your confidence and surety in delivering these responses could also inspire someone else. You might find yourself having a conversation with someone who is sober curious and keen to learn from you in making their own changes.
Have you had a difficult conversation that you managed to move through with a great response and outcome? We’d love to learn what worked for you.
If you’re looking for company while you are learning to message that you’re moderating your drinking, The Daybreak app’s Community Support is filled with supportive suggestions and online discussions that might be useful too.