Ways to Decline a Drink in Social Settings

Social events can feel like wading through a minefield for a recovering alcoholic.

Invitations to drink, questions about why you are not drinking coupled with cravings for alcohol can sometimes make it feel harder to resist than to give in and take a drink. While some people in recovery avoid social venues in order to protect their sobriety, there may come a time when it is not possible to stay away from an important celebratory event. At times like these it may be helpful to know a few ways to avoid drinking without the need for explanations.

Seven Ways to Decline a Drink in Social Settings:

  1. Plan ahead for big events like a wedding, office party or other unavoidable social events where it may not be appropriate for you to leave at will.  Planning should include having your own transportation or another way to leave the event if cravings become unbearable or your sobriety feels threatened.  Also, it may be a good idea to know which non-alcoholic beverages you would like to drink and how you will counter people that may coerce you to drink.
  2. Stretch the truth a bit or be completely honest.  When asked if you want a drink or why aren’t you drinking you can decline by saying things like…a. “No thanks, I’ve just finished one”

    b. “Thanks, but I’ve reached my limit for tonight”

    c. “I don’t drink anymore.”

    The important thing is to avoid making a big deal out of the fact that you are not drinking. If people continue to prod, and some may, find a way to change the subject or walk away.

  3. If you are caught off guard and end up at a bar or party where alcoholic beverages are being served, request a “mock tail” or non-alcoholic drink that consist of a mixture of fruit juices or other beverages.  This makes it difficult for others to tell exactly what is in your drink.
  4. Hold a glass of soda and keep it refreshed to avoid offers of a refill.  After drinking guest have filled up on alcohol, no one will care what you are drinking.
  5. At planned events, use the buddy system to play interference for you if necessary.
  6. Be the designated driver for one person or two friends only. This way you can get out of drinking without getting saddled with having to chauffer too many people home.
  7. Make up your mind that you are going to relax and reinforce your desire to stay sober by paying attention to the ridiculous things some people do when they drink too much.

Alcohol addiction recovery is a lifelong journey, that can easily be derailed by taking a drink or two at a social event.  And while drinking alcohol may be a normal pastime in American society, it can mean a dangerous relapse with serious consequences for a recovering alcoholic.  As such, the dangers involved in a relapse underscores the importance of learning to decline a drink in social settings.  



  1. http://www.thecabinchiangmai.com/blog/having-fun-and-staying-sober-at-social-events#.Vx-tqY-cF-E
  2. http://www.the-alcoholism-guide.org/alcohol-relapse.html
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.