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7 Ways to Say “No” to a Drink/Drug at a Party

As an earlier blog post mentioned, the holidays are upon us, and there will be a lot of celebrating which can be uncomfortable for people in recovery. While there isn’t a lot you can do to stop the drinks from flowing to others at holiday parties, you are entirely in control of your own drinking or drugging behavior. It's up to you to say no when it's offered.

Marijuana has is legal now in many states, and now recovering addicts find themselves at “normal people” holiday parties having to say “no” to more than one substance. Parties like this can be mighty uncomfortable if you used marijuana or alcohol casually. For many people, both are gateway drugs to the hardest stuff that eventually took them down the road of addiction.

So, how do you say “No” to anyone without coming across as rude?

  1. “No thanks.” This is a pretty easy one to practice. You may feel as if you need to explain, but usually, your party host will say no to alcohol or drugsmove on.
  2. “No thanks, I don’t drink.” If you feel you must explain, this one is short and sweet and should work exceptionally well if you’re not close to the person who is offering the drink.
  3. “No thanks, I’m driving.” Of course, if somebody who is drinking overhears this, they may ask you for a ride. You might be uncomfortable giving rides to drunk people, so display caution!
  4. “No thanks, I quit drinking.” You can choose to say this one without elaborating. Or elaborate, if you want. Being in recovery isn’t exactly some dirty little secret you need to hide from people.
  5. “No thanks, I’m allergic to alcohol/wine/liquor/beer.” Say it however you wish. It’s pretty much the truth.
  6. “No thanks, I’ve got to take care of my health.” This "no" is a great way to say you’re focusing on staying healthy in general. If you’re into salads and exercise, this is the perfect way to say no.
  7. “No thanks, I’m in recovery.” This "no" is a great way to tell somebody who probably witnessed your behavior in the past or knows about your substance use problem.

Saying “No” is a powerful thing. Whenever you say “no,” you are re-committing yourself to a lifestyle of recovery. If you’re triggered by the offer of a drink or drug, remove yourself from the situation. You can either leave the room or even leave the party early.

If you are obligated to go to a party such as a work function or family potluck, offer to bring the non-alcoholic beverages. You can also ask the party host to have a table for the non-alcoholic drinks. (You don’t want anyone stealing your soda for mixers, after all!)

Once You’ve Said “No”

If you’re offered a drink or a drug and say no, the next step is to walk away to another room. If anyone tries to coax you into drinking or using, explain that you don’t want a drink and you’d appreciate if they don’t ask again. Make a note of that person’s behavior in the back of your head, because they could be a possible trigger to use.

Always have a plan for recovery when you’re going to an event that involves alcohol or possibly marijuana use. You should work this type of scenario out with your support networks such as your therapist or sponsor.

These are just a few ways that you can say “No” to a drink or a drug when you’re at a function such as a party or wedding. Please note that there are a lot of ways you can choose to phrase it. If you’re ever left wanting to use or feeling emotional because of the alcohol or drug use at a function, go to a meeting right afterward. You should also consider leaving early.


Getting Help

Do you or somebody you know need help with a substance use disorder? Get help before it’s too late. No one should have to live in the grips of addiction, no matter what or how much they use. Please call us at 1-619-363-4767.



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Mark G
Mark Gladden brings both personal and professional experience to his role as co-founder of Present Moments Recovery. Now in long-term recovery himself after struggling with addiction for years, Mark understands firsthand the challenges men face in achieving and maintaining sobriety. It was this insight, combined with a desire to help others, that led Mark to establish Present Moments Recovery.

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