How to Tell People You Don’t Drink

So you have made the decision to give up alcohol or cut back dramatically. Actually you might have even decided to cut it back just a bit. However, how do you tell people you don’t drink?

Yes OK I’m alcohol free.

And I won’t hurt you and neither will it be the next blockbuster horror movie or something! I have learned the hard way.

I never thought saying “ I don’t drink alcohol” would become such an issue. In fact, it seems to be more of an issue than if I said I am “a heavy drinker”.

If I said “you know what I just drink too much alcohol” people would probably just laugh and say “yeah me too”, or “yes I drink too much alcohol but hey life’s too short!”

Well for me and my social drinking wine it nearly was. Like 48 hours to live too short!

It seems even asking for an alcohol free drink can lead to an astonished stare like you asking for some kind of under the counter secret drug or something!

People actually forget its alcohol that is the drug here!

People Stare at Your when you say you don't drink alcohol

So since being diagnosed with liver disease I have developed a strategy to say that “I don’t drink alcohol” and it’s become more direct over time.

I have found it the best way.

And of course your reason’s may be different to mine from health to the fact you have an allergy to alcohol or just hate the stuff.

In my experience there are lots of reason’s out there! People still judge you though!

Here are my top 5 strategies for saying you don’t drink alcohol.

Of course, you will find you own way and guess what I would love to hear what they are!

5 – Be up front and know your own mind

This is more of a mental preparation strategy than anything else and no you shouldn’t even have to go there but I have found that you do.

The thing is that we live in an alcohol dominated world so you have to be prepared. Even in the cinema or theatre they now serve alcohol drinks and I can almost guarantee alcohol free wines and beer won’t be on the menu.

For the best alcohol free gin choice review go here – its great for diets!

So whatever your social plan and that maybe even be a house party, birthday or celebration decide on your plan of action and bore you even get there.

Be clear on your objective and just say” no I’m not drinking today”, that’s it you don’t have to engage any further if you don’t want to.

Take your own alcohol free drinks

The key not to be side tracked so take your own alcohol free drink and insist. Don’t take no for an answer which gets worse the more everyone drinks the worse it gets.

Eventually though if you have something in your hand people eventually forget your are not drinking alcohol. Strange but true!

4 – Be up front about why you don’t drink alcohol

When I discovered I had liver disease I was really nervous about talking about it, after all what would people say and how would they react toward me.

Now I don’t care. In fact, the reason you are reading this blog is just that. Its my purpose to champion alcohol free!

Be honest for your reasons in being alcohol free

I am so upfront about it that people don’t know where to go with it. They just look away and change the subject.

The fact is I have learned that unless you are pregnant which no one questions people want to engage on the why.

I have even thought about saying I’m pregnant regardless of the fact I’m male. Silly I know but people will sometimes presume you used to have a drink problem.

However, if you really embellish the reason and start to discuss lots of reason’s about why it’s not so good to drown yourself in lots of alcohol the attention goes away.

I know a colleague of mine says, “well I was reading about heart disease the other day”.

He is actually a long distance runner and got bored with questions about why he did not drink alcohol. Now he goes into so much information that the other person gets really bored and changes the subject.

And remember it’s all about them so the more you are upfront about the reason’s the more you are going to cut back on alcohol the fewer places they have to go with it.

3 – Remember you are the customer

I know people think I make this stuff up sometimes but I can’t tell you how many times I have been made to feel really small and insignificant asking for an alcoholic free drink.

People could ask for trebles followed by shots but if I ask for an Alcohol Free San Miguel it’s like you have just come down from another planet and you are being inconsiderate or weird in some way.

Stuff em, you are the consumer right? And I hate saying that as it’s often said in a pompous way but in this case I really make the exception.

If you sre buying alcohol free you are a customer

One of my coaches told me her partner had the same reaction and he did not need to order an alcoholic free drink, he literally just fancied it and got the funniest of comments.

That one request involves “a look” and then under the breath you hear “what’s the point” or “strange?”

She actually told me about it and said Phil “I do know exactly what you mean now”!

It was a relief that it was not just me going through these rejections in bars and restaurants.

I now do two things when this happens to me. Firstly I challenge it in a polite way and point out that I am a paying customer and if you don’t want to serve me you should say so.

Now I am not expecting you to do the next thing I do but it is very empowering. And I feel as an alcohol free champion that is my job to do this.

Alcohol Free Drinks Are Big Business

I ask to see the manager and explain why alcohol free is so important and also discuss that sales growth is around 23 percent per an annum and what can amazing opportunity.

You would be amazed at the response it gets. It’s generally really good as any good bar manager is looking to increase sales.

One manager actually messaged me to say one alcohol free beer turned into the best-seller!

Some bars will actually pre-order for you if you are dinning and learn something from the experience as I found out one Christmas Day.

2 – Tell people you are a former alcoholic and then laugh about it

Seriously I have had everything from religion to you must making it up to “go on you want one really don’t you!”.

By the way even if I say one drink could kill me they still say “yes but one won’t matter!”

Say you are an ex alcoholic

I know how passionate people are about consuming alcohol. It’s one of the many reason’s people develop a habit of drinking!

From friends’ peer pressure to post work drinks, the need to conform is right up there with one of the reason’s alcohol intake by the back door can increase.

And it can become a really big habit before you realize!

So it seems that saying you were an alcoholic stops them in the path and they honestly don’t know where to go with the conversation.

Its like “yikes not sure how to deal with that!”

People who contact me through the blog talk about it a lot, even though they are not officially classed as one they are just as categorized as an alcoholic so what have we got to lose?

Now this approach is not for everyone. They might think you are joking but won’t go there. And if they tell 10 other people well they have probably mentioned it already anyway.

I know people have talked about me in that way even though they used to drink far more than me. They also just don’t know I know that they say that to others !

You have to laugh really!

People will gossip regardless

By the way if you are an ex alcoholic, so what, the difference is minimal between someone labeled that way and a person who just drinks a lot.

My view is labels are really unhelpful and you have had an issue and you’re dealing with it – brilliant!

That should be applauded, not criticized or gossiped about.

Bottom line is the more up front you are the fewer people will challenge you in my experience.

Always know your alcohol limit with drink aware

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He is brilliant at addiction from chocolate to beer and it can all be done “on line” with headphones from the comfort of your own home.

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1 – Say you are an influencer and are trying out new stuff

Now you may not be working your muscles on some Dubai coastline but influencers on social media come in all sizes and shapes.

However, and I do believe this, if you are going alcohol free right now or reducing your alcohol intake you are ahead of the curve. I mean it.

Your a trend setter even though you may not realize it.

You Are Trend Setting If you are alcohol free

Not everyone is doing the same but younger people are and the growth of alcohol free drink is exploding compared to previous years albeit at low numbers in comparison to alcohol based drinks.

The thing is I actually say it to be people and say I am a championing new alcohol free drink and would like to be involved. It’s surprising how many people say yes OK.

They actually want to be part of a trend and that kind of makes sense!

Once you consider yourself an influencer in an alcohol world you change the frame. It actually becomes empowering.

I tell people it’s my job which it is so there is not a lot to argue against.

Become a champion for alcohol free drinks

The golden rule is to be confident in your responses and others will as well.

By the way if you really have an issue with alcohol drink in that a maybe a trigger for you and risk you going back to drinking large amount of alcohol. Well the advice is stay away from it.

You will yourself know what works for you in that area of your life.

How do you tell people you don’t drink?

Or maybe you do drink alcohol and you are reflecting on what your thoughts are on your responses to people who don’t drink! What would you say?

The key point is to be confident and certainly not embarrassed about the fact you don’t drink!

People cut back their alcohol intake or altogether for a lot of reason’s. It might be a should, want or you can’t drink alcohol.

What matters is that we have a choice when it comes down to alcohol free and what we say about it.

I would love to know your thoughts on how to tell people you don’t drink. Leave a comment below and I always get back to you.



4 thoughts on “How to Tell People You Don’t Drink”

  1. Also this article How to Tell People You Don’t Drink was very interesting to read.
    I otherwise have never had a problem telling people I’m not drinking. I currently have a small child who is still breastfeeding, and people take it for granted, and they understand that I don’t drink because of the baby.
    In the period before the child, I also did not drink when I was driving, and when I said that I was with the car, they mostly understood and automatically accepted that I was not drinking. Before the child, I occasionally drank a glass of wine or a beer in the warmer months.
    I have friends who drink alcohol and friends who don’t, and I totally accept their decisions.
    It probably really depends on what kind of people you’re talking to. That’s why your ideas on how to tell people you don’t drink alcohol are really original.
    I wish you all the best

    • Hey Nina, thanks so much for taking time out to comment on how to tell people you don’t drink. I think quite rightly pregnacy is one of those areas where it is not questioned so it was really interesting to get your take on that. Especially around breast feeding.  

      Fascinating stuff and I enjoyed reading your comment. All the very best, Phil

  2. It’s actually quite shocking that one should be judged just because one doesn’t drink, but nevertheless, I loved reading this article as some of the excuses you came up with for not drinking were hilarious (pregnant male).

    I especially liked the one that you are an influencer and trying out new stuff. Now nobody will have a comeback for that one I don’t think.

    Sometimes the best way is to just go order your drink quietly at the bar and nobody will know that you haven’t added any alcohol.

    • Brilliant Michel, thanks so much and I am glad you enjoyed the humour. Its a great addition to the subject of how to tell people you don’t drink! 

      I think humour certainly gets me through when asking for non alcoholic drinks. 

      I was criticised on the blog only yesterday for enjoying alcohol free wine online so it does happen. There is some great advice from you as well. I do really appreciate you stopping by. All the best, Phil


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