What is a teetotaller? 10 things only you understand.

The straight answer to what is a teetotaller is total abstinence from alcohol.

However, many people think we drink tea.

And is it teetotal or tea total?

Teetotallers come in all shapes and sizes, and you may have a different history to the next person that describes themselves in this way.

The fact is if you have always been tea total, then you probably know more than me about it.

But of course, tea total is a metaphor. It is not like you are obsessed with the stuff. It is more like you don’t drink alcohol.

I mean, if I said you were a curry monster, I would not expect you to eat just curry. The same goes for ice cream or any foodstuff.

It could end up being unhealthy.

I mean, it might be different for you, but it was a life and death situation for me. And before you say it, I was just a social drinker.

Once I had gotten over the embarrassment of having some issue, the issue about being tea total was not that I did drink wine but that I did not drink alcohol.

I mean, as someone who was tea total, you’re expecting to be celebrated, not have those shoulders shrugged at you.

If you embark on your tea total journey, you will learn that you will do things differently.

It is sometimes like an episode of Jurassic Park, thinking ahead to preempt someone’s move. But in this case, it is humans.

Tea total is a different life, but as you might discover, it is not always an easy path, but please stick with it as the rewards are immense.

10 – It is your responsibility to read the labels

It sounds harsh, but it is when we don’t know what is alcohol-free or not. I mean, low alcohol or alcohol-free are very different things.

Although in most cases, the amount of alcohol may be less than a glass of orange juice.

No kidding

Read how much alcohol is in orange juice here.

In the UK, you will find yourself looking for something called ABV.

ABV stands for alcohol by volume and tells you how much alcohol is in your drink.

Most drinkers will never look at this, so that a teetotaller will look rather odd.

Most drinkers either think of something like a whiskey as strong or maybe one of the beers as heavy.

In reality, most drinkers won’t look for it specifically.

So at best, you will be a weirdo, but your friends might like your attention to detail.

Impress them with a mocktail with sparklers. That always impresses me, what about you? If it is the morning after drinking, ask for a Virgin Bloody Mary.

9- You approach the bar differently

As a total tea person, of course, high standing people will wonder why you have to fluff your feathers as you head to the bar.

You have to address the issue of being a teetotaler, which will throw up all kinds of questions.

  • Are you religious?
  • Alcoholic?
  • Borning?
  • Weird?

Is it no wonder you will fluff your feathers as you walk to the bar?

As an alcohol-free drinker you approach the bar differently

No, it is not the walk of shame. It is the walk of preparation.

Will they have what I want, or will it be another fizzy soda?

Tip: Ask for a Heineken and then add but alcohol-free 0.0 per cent.

8- You set your expectations lower

Alcohol drinkers won’t get it, but your expectation when you walk into your local superstore or corner shop will be low when going alcohol-free.

I mean, yes, tea is fine but being tea total means so much more than that.

From alcohol-free gin like Seedlip to Heineken Zero Beer, you are unlikely to see it jumping off the shelf.

Yes, there are a few expectations that are the exceptions. And that is before you go to a restaurant or bar.

Your friends won’t get that when you are lowering your standards and expectations.

Hopefully, things will change, but hey, it is what it is, right?

7- You hear this is low alcohol a lot

As a total tea drinker, people will shove what they think is alcohol-free in your hand.

Ask for Libera, and you get Peroni, and for alcohol-free, well, they feel low alcohol or even skinny beer is OK.

So you have to cross-check what you are served as a drink.

Find out what is low or alcohol-free via the drinkaware website. It’s cool.

It is not that they don’t care or they are trying to harm you.

Although I am sure, those looks you get are meant to be taken care of.

The reality is the people that serve you drinks don’t live in that world.

One day it might have the same status as a nut allergy, and that, thank goodness, is now understood widely.

6- You get offered fizzy water

Yes, the tremendous fizzy watering offering. Now there is nothing wrong with the stuff.

But, like a teetotaler, I am assigned that for life.

Now I get it as the opponents of alcohol-free drinks say it can trigger you to go back to alcohol.

But, of course, you may never have drunk alcohol in your life.

Everyone is different, and I fail to see how encouraging you to try alcohol-free options is a problem. Yes, there are exceptions, of course.

As an alcohol-free drinker you often get offered a fizzy water

But people presume you were some alcohol drinker living on a park bench with a bottle of vodka.

And if you were well, that is for you to decide if alcohol-free drinks are a trigger or not.

I talk about this in Stop Drinking Alcohol Now, and there is a link below. I would love to know your experiences for the blog.

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And if alcohol-free drinks are a trigger, get help or avoid them. But triggers can come in all shapes and including stress.

But you might want to be healthy, so the sparkling water comes with its fair share of assumptions.

5 -You are wary you might get judged on Facebook

Make that all social media but yep, mainly Facebook.

It would help if you didn’t care, but you like to be liked. So when I published my alcohol-free book, Some friends loved it, and some were supportive.

Others were mean,

How about your friends?

Do they support an alcohol-free lifestyle, and do they know what tea total means?

Everyone won’t understand you when you say you get more prejudice for not drinking than actually drinking alcohol.

I know it’s weird, right?

4- You wonder if you will have fun again

I mean, look around; it’s like everyone is having fun apart from you.

But there are many, of course, who are trapped in the social myth that you can enjoy life with alcohol.

As a teetotal person, you will know this.

But what alcohol drinkers won’t realise is that halfway through the party, friends will come up and say, “come on, show us you can have fun without a drink.”

And you think, what am I a performing seal?

You tell people you can not drink alcohol and have fun. You have to flaunt it even when you don’t want to.

Tea total people know this.

3- You buy a wine fridge to spite people

Now it is your dream to have a wine fridge, right? Might you even have one?

All I can say is good for you.

People will wonder why you have one, but it’s a social statement.

Alcohol-Free Wine Fridge


The thing is, they might expect you to have glasses or teacups as a tea total drinker but never a wine fridge.

There is now a range of alcohol-free wine fridges to choose from. And remember, the alcohol-free fizz has vastly improved.

It has even jumped ahead of the non-alcoholic wines and beers.

So go ahead and buy a wine fridge. Alcohol drinkers won’t get it but do you care.

We all like to indulge in a bit of social status.

Please note an alcohol-free wine fridge is just a wine fridge but with alcohol-free in it!

2- You read newspapers headlines about alcohol and health differently

Many headlines say the drink is good for you, especially around cholesterol, heart, and stress.

And to be fair much of the evidence is accurate. The thing is related to the glass of wine, not the bottle.

The occasional beer, not the 10 pints down the pub in the evening

So when you are tea total, you just read the headlines differently.

You have critical eyes that say “yes up a point”. The full array of news and information you get seem to get an extra scan.

And that is a good thing, right?

1- You expect the taxi diver to think you are drunk

The thing is, taxi drivers often think people will be drunk after a lengthy lunch or even a late-night party.

I was recently told to hurry up, and yes, I know you have been drinking.

They may think that because you are stone-cold sober that you are pretending. However, there is nothing worse than being told you are drunk when you have made a conscious decision to cut back on alcohol or give it up altogether.

You find you may have to waddle like a duck if you want to get home. I mean, don’t go over the top and play your acting down a bit.

After all, you don’t want to be too convincing.

Of course, you also know you drink more than tea as a teetotaler, but you know that right. From alcohol-free fizz to beer, the choice is growing every day.

Philip Roberts is the author of Stop Drinking Alcohol Now on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.

What is a teetotaler to you?

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