How to Respond When Asked, "Why Aren't You Drinking?"
How to Respond When Asked, "Why Aren't You Drinking?"
June 27, 2022

By Soberinfo

Increasing numbers of people have stepped back from alcohol in favor of sobriety over the last decade. People in recovery aren’t as rare of an occurrence as they used to be, especially as people recognize the benefits of cutting alcohol from their lives. 

Most people tend to mind their business at functions and don’t care why or bother noticing whether anyone else is consuming alcohol. However, there will always be curious people as well. You may find yourself at an event, get-together, or party where someone asks you, “Why aren’t you drinking?” If you do, how should you respond?

Some people choose not to drink for health reasons but if you’re in recovery you may find yourself hesitating. You might not be in a position to disclose the reason for not drinking and could find yourself at a loss for words. It’s a wise idea to prepare ahead of time and have an answer so you know how to respond when asked, “Why aren’t you drinking?”

“I’m the designated driver.”

Being the designated driver at an event is the perfect out for drinking every time. It’s also the perfect cover if you’re someone who has an alcohol problem or is in recovery. Volunteering as the designated driver is a great way to avoid having to explain why you aren’t drinking any further. Most people will accept this as a reasonable explanation for not partaking.

“I’m allergic to alcohol.”

This answer sounds a bit funny at first as some aren’t familiar with the concept of an allergy to alcohol. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous refers to alcoholism as an “allergy”, a concept that many recovering alcoholics feel describes their situation. There’s also a portion of people who, alcoholic or not, have a genuinely negative allergic reaction to alcohol. The person asking doesn’t need to know which category you fall into.

“I’m not in the mood.”

This comes as a surprise to people who struggle with a drinking problem but plenty of people don’t drink alcohol when they aren’t in the mood. Compared to someone who drinks excessively for next to no reason at all, this might sound absurd. But to someone without an alcohol problem, not being in the mood to drink is a perfectly rational explanation.

“I don’t like who I become when I drink.”

If you feel more comfortable with the person asking the question, you may offer an answer like this. It provides the option to further the conversation if you’re willing to and you might find that your sobriety story could help someone else. You don’t necessarily have to go into detail about what happens when you drink, but making it clear that alcohol doesn’t interact well with you is a perfectly understandable answer.

Stand By What’s Right For You

No matter how you choose to respond when someone asks, “Why aren’t you drinking?”, stand by what is right for you. Don’t allow people to pressure you into consuming alcohol when you know it doesn’t sit well with you. Most people will gladly accept if you offer one of the explanations above, but if they press the question then you’re allowed to politely end the conversation.

Carrying a beverage in your hand during an event is a great way to avoid the question. People are less likely to offer to grab you a drink if you already have one. Get a bubbly fruity drink such as a club soda or Sprite with cranberry making it even less likely to hear the question.

If you feel the chance of having to explain yourself might put you in a bad position, you may consider avoiding the event. Nothing is worth risking your sobriety, no matter how important the event may be. People who choose the abstinence approach do so for good reasons and shouldn’t let anyone’s opinion sway them from what they know is right.

Decide what is best for you when you have an event coming up. If you choose to go, prepare yourself with a few of the above answers in case anyone does ask. And if you’re feeling a bit hesitant, bring a friend or avoid the event. Your sobriety is worth more than anything in the world.

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