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What to Say When Someone Asks Why You Don’t Drink

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As a person who has entered recovery from an addiction to alcoholism, your privacy can be quite valuable. You may not be comfortable sharing details of hitting rock bottom or going to treatment with everyone. Unless your struggles with addiction became apparent to people who aren’t close to you, it may prove fairly easy to keep a lid on this quite personal part of your life. People’s curiosity may intersect with your life as someone in recovery when it comes to a simple question posed to you: Why don’t you drink? Deciding what to say when someone asks why you don’t drink is a personal choice. How you choose to handle this question can depend on many factors. You may have more than one answer, depending on the situation and who is posing the question. 

Being Blunt About Being in Recovery

When it comes to what to say when someone asks why you don’t drink, many people choose not to beat around the bush. You might find it best to be specific and open when answering. Telling someone that you are in recovery from alcoholism may give them all the information they need. This may put a halt to any more questions. In this case, your choice of being completely open with your answer may pay off.

Other people may take this admission as an opportunity to ask more questions. They may want to inquire about details, such as how long you drank, how bad things got, and how you got sober. Remember that you retain the right to decide if you want to start a discussion on this subject or not. If answering some basic questions does not feel intrusive, you may end up educating someone. 

If instead, you want to keep that part of your life private, you are within your rights to say something like, “I prefer not to go into details, but my recovery is my priority. That is why I do not drink.”

Stating a Preference Not to Drink

A simple answer along the lines of “I prefer non-alcoholic drinks” or “Alcohol isn’t really my taste” may suffice. Some people only express a passing interest in why someone else does not drink alcohol. For those people, these types of answers usually quell their curiosity. 

If this answer is met with further questioning, you may want to expand on your answer. Try a variation of “I really would rather have juice or soda.” Giving an example of what drink you prefer in social situations can be enough information for some people. If a person insists on pushing the subject, you can simply repeat your answer. Often repetition of that sort shuts down a person who has crossed a social conversation line.

The Role of Designated Driver

Sometimes the best response when someone asks why you don’t drink comes from claiming the role of a designated driver. Most people understand when one person abstains from drinking alcohol in their role as the driver for their group of friends or family. The person’s response may be along the lines of what a drag it must be not to be able to indulge at the party or gathering. If so, you can try smiling and assuring the other person that you are happy to have a fun evening out, regardless of alcohol intake. 

Telling People That You and Alcohol Don’t Play Well Together

Sometimes the element of surprise can be effective. When someone asks why you don’t drink, consider telling them, “Because alcohol and I don’t mix well. I don’t like who I am when I’m drinking.” This may cause them to accept the answer and move on. Many people understand what this means, either from personal experience or witnessing negative behavior from someone they know who drinks excessively. 

If the person prods you to explain what you mean, feel free to shut them down politely. The old adage about something being “a long story” or declaring that you don’t care to go into details can make it clear you are not open to discussing it further. You can repeat your original line a couple of more times, making it clear that you will be offering no further clarification. 

When Someone Just Won’t Let It Go

When someone asks why you don’t drink and then refuses to let it go, you have options. Keep in mind that you do not have to answer even one question posed to you. A simple “I just don’t”, said with a slight smile, can be all that you need. 

For people who keep prodding and asking for more information, a different approach may be needed. You may want to try one of the following responses:

  • Tell the person, “I’ve said all I care to say about that”, then refuse to answer any more questions.
  • State in a monotone voice, “I’m not comfortable discussing this, as it’s quite personal. I’m sure you understand.”
  • Change the subject and try to redirect the conversation.
  • Walk away from the person or people peppering you with questions. Find another conversation to join.
  • Tell anyone who wants to tell you that you can have just one drink that you made the decision not to drink with your doctor or treatment professionals, and you are sticking with it.
  • If you find yourself agitated or feeling triggered, step aside and contact a friend or your sponsor for support.

Addiction Recovery Programs in Texas

If you need help with an addiction to alcohol, Purpose Driven Recovery can help. Our gender-specific living programs in Houston offer the sanctuary you need to become comfortable in recovery. Contact Purpose Driven Recovery by calling us at (713) 266-1507 or click here to email us. 

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