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25 ways to refuse a drink

Say no to another drink with these simple tips.

I often discuss ways to refuse a drink with clients in my private practice as a psychologist. Many tell me the pressure to accept a drink, or to continue drinking, can be enormous. Especially if they are at a work event and don’t want to appear weak, or look like they have a problem with alcohol.

Prepare what you will say in advance

If you’ve decided not to drink, have confidence in your decision. If others pressure you to drink after you’ve refused, you can repeat yourself by firmly saying, “I won’t be drinking tonight.” You don’t have to explain yourself.

It’s a good idea to plan what you will say before you attend a party or work event, however, so that you know what you will do before you get there. You’ll feel more in control and handle the situation better if you have a couple of stock phrases prepared in advance. You’ll also likely feel more pleased with how you handled the situation if you have an escape plan ready when you feel cornered.

There are plenty of options available

Sometimes, you might want to let your friends know you won’t be drinking so you will have allies that can offer their support if others start pressuring you.

Of course, it’s a good idea to avoid situations where you know you will be triggered and to stay away from people or places where you might give in to pressure.

Lots of people order a non-alcoholic drink because it’s less likely you’ll be offered a drink if you already have one in your hand. It might surprise you, but most people won’t notice that you have a coke.

If someone pressures you to have a drink, you can change the subject and turn their attention elsewhere. For example, you might say, “Wow. You’re always looking out for me. You’re such a good friend. Did you finish the presentation you were stressing over?”

Lots of the time, you can simply say, “No thanks,” firmly and politely, when someone offers you a drink.

If you are pressed for details, you might say, “Thanks, but I’m driving.”

There are lots of other options. I’ve listed 25 ways to refuse a drink to help you get your own creative juices flowing as you plan how you will refuse a drink at the next party or work function you attend.

25 responses you can have up your sleeve

You might say, “No thanks,” followed by:

  1. “I’m the designated driver.”’
  2. “I want to keep my head clear.”
  3. “I just finished one.”
  4. “I’ve hit my limit for tonight.”
  5. “I’ve already had my share, and probably yours, too.”
  6. “I’m flying out at 5 am tomorrow.”
  7. “I’m going skiing tomorrow.”
  8. “I’ve hired a personal trainer.”
  9. “I’ve joined a running group.”
  10. “I have yoga in the morning.”
  11. “I’m on antibiotics.”
  12. “I’m trying to lose weight.”
  13. “We’re leaving early tomorrow to go car camping.”
  14. “I’m taking the kids to (insert event here). We leave at 8 am tomorrow.”
  15. “We’re trying to get pregnant.”
  16. “We’re thinking about getting pregnant (again).”
  17. “I have to get that project off my desk in the morning.”
  18. “I haven’t been sleeping well (and alcohol interferes with sleep).”
  19. “I accepted a challenge to go 30 days without drinking.”
  20. “My wife and I decided to not drink for three months.”
  21. “My whole hockey team is not drinking to support (insert cause here). The money we save will be donated to research.”
  22. “My friend has (insert issue here) and I’ve given up drinking to show support.”
  23. “My husband is (fill in issue here) and I’ve given up alcohol to show support.”
  24. “I’m taking my niece to her swimming lesson tomorrow.”
  25. “I’ve arranged to renovate the backyard. The workers arrive at 8 am tomorrow.”

I hope you find these suggestions helpful as you plan how you will refuse to have a drink. The biggest part is to have a plan. You’re more than half way there already.

— Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta

If you would like support, contact me to schedule an appointment or a free 15 minute consultation.


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