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Updated: December 1, 2021

How To Say No To Alcohol (And Other Substances)

It’s the holiday season, and while we’re still living with uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, strides have been made. Many people who have been vaccinated are now around other people for the first time in a while. It may seem that everyone is partying and celebrating.

Most people in recovery choose to stay away from parties or events where there may be drinking or other substance use. But you may feel pressured to go to family events after a long time of not seeing them. Or you may end up at an event you thought was straight-edge, only to learn there is substance abuse taking place.

A Few Easy Ways to Say No

Saying “no” to somebody isn’t as complicated as it sounds. You may feel pressured if the question catches you by surprise. Making “excuses” isn’t necessarily healthy, so don’t feel pressured to make up a lie. Saying “no” and continuing with whatever you’re doing is a good plan.

Again – for the most part, lying isn’t worth it. If you aren’t upfront about the reason you’ve quit drinking, you may be tempted. However, being upfront doesn’t mean breaking your anonymity. Here are a few ways to reject a drink:

  • “Sorry, I don’t drink anymore.” This is the easiest way to tell people you quit drinking. You do not need to elaborate.
  • “No, thanks, I have my soda/juice/etc. right here.”
  • “Drinking gets me into trouble, so I prefer not to.”
  • “No thanks, I’m in the program.”
  • “No thanks, I’ve been sober X months.”
  • “No way, I hear that stuff’s bad for you.”
  • “No thanks, not tonight.”

You may want to make an excuse or lie up if you’re with strangers, and you don’t want to divulge what’s going on. But if you’re around people you know, don’t be dishonest. Let them know you don’t drink (or smoke weed) and do not intend to any time soon. If that offends them, that’s their problem.

Think, Don’t Drink! Have A Plan

You don’t have to drink or use marijuana or any other substance if you don’t want to. However, if you’re worried about triggers at holiday events,  it’s vital to have an “exit plan,” such as planning to go to a 12-step meeting or another sober gathering.

In recovery, it’s important to keep your feet on the ground. Your safety and serenity should come first in your life. For one thing, COVID isn’t over, and it hasn’t been cured, and you may not even want to go to a party.

If you realize that you’re in a sketchy or uncomfortable situation, it’s time to THINK of your exit plan. Call your sponsor, text a friend, or let somebody else you trust that you’re having a bad time and are heading to a meeting.

Getting Help for Addiction

If you or somebody you love needs help with a substance use disorder, we’re here to help you get started on your journey. Give us a call at 760-216-2077 to learn about your options.


If you or a loved one is looking for an effective drug rehab in San Diego, call 619-363-4767. One of our caring members is ready to answer all of your questions.

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If Present Moments is the right fit for your current situation you will be speaking to Admissions Director Mark Gladden, who will be your guide throughout the process of arranging travel and undergoing an initial detox (if necessary). Mark has been the guide for dozens of men and women who have gotten their lives back by entering treatment at Present Moments. He has earned his reputation as being truly dedicated to the recovery of others. Mark will be the one to ‘show you the ropes’ when it comes to admitting to our facility for treatment

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