Socialising Sober

Heading into social situations without drinking can be very uncomfortable when we first quit alcohol. This Sober Toolbox is a space for sharing tips on how to navigate social events, including what to say to people who question why we’re not drinking. If you're looking for more discussion, interactions and feedback, head inside our Members Feed. That's where the real-time conversations take place.

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  1. Willow7 5 years ago

    Good luck. My thoughts are with you. It’s hard when you have family that drinks, especially when you are used to drinking together.

  2. SoberSandy 5 years ago

    I’m just honest and say I don’t drink alcohol anymore and I feel so much better since I gave it up. It’s a personal response and no one can question how I feel. Good friends will be pleased for you, drinkers will go on the defensive because it makes them question their habits. I know what to expect now and feel more confident each time I am asked why I’m not drinking.

  3. jilloc84 5 years ago

    I just say “no thanks” when someone offers me a drink. If they ask why, i say I don’t drink. If they ask why again, I tell them I used to drink too much so I quit. It’s not that it’s impolite, offensive or insensitive for people to pry as to the reason you won’t accept a drink or shot–it used to weird me out when people wouldn’t drink in social situations–BUT, I think it’s an easy, simple way to let someone know 1) The truth 2) Sometimes people don’t drink because…they’re alcoholics. It’s not always cool to insist someone have a drink with you or to ask a million follow up questions as to why they chose to abstain.
    If someone keeps pushing you or making you uncomfortable, it’s time to remove yourself from the situation and sometimes even remove yourself permanently from a group of friends. Kinda sucks, but not nearly as much as sticking around and having a crappy time–or worse, relapsing.

  4. Cranberry 5 years ago

    I’m thinking of saying, “Alcohol acts like a depressant on me. I’m happier and I’m more productive when I don’t drink.”

    • DaveH 5 years ago

      You don’t have to justify not drinking.

  5. Anonymous 5 years ago

    Some comebacks … I have developed an allergic reaction to hangovers… I choose life! Saving money to buy a mansion. Starting a retirement fund. Tired of being broke and living month to month….

  6. Hitman 5 years ago

    I am yet to deal with this one. My Dad drinks and all we have ever done is drink together when i go to visit him. This weekend I will be telling him I’ve knocked booze on the head.
    All of my social situations involve alcohol so i also am asking this question of myself. I have a session at CADS next week so will be good to run it past the councellor.

  7. Lexi 5 years ago

    This is a tough one for me. Most of my friends are drinkers and the main thing we did together was drink… So when I say “no” to alcohol they treat it like a very temporary thing. Like, “Okay, well let me know when you’re done with this non-drinking thing.” My friends unknowingly minimize what I’m trying to do and my accomplishments to date. Just writing this makes me realize I may have to let these types of friends go. I need to seek out those friends that still support and form real, richer relationships. It’s a challenge I’m not ready to face. Need to focus on me right now – worrying about socializing and friends will need to be put on the back burner. At least it’s cold and getting dark early. I tend to hibernate in the winter anyhow so I guess good timing!

    • Dive4Pay 5 years ago

      I am in a similar situation , sometimes you have to thin the herd

  8. JJR 5 years ago

    I have been saying that I’m not drinking for my health and alcohol is a little like chocolate for me, it’s just much easier for me to not have any than it is to just have one. Almost everyone I said that to nodded in agreement.

  9. Rain 5 years ago

    I need some help with this one. It’s early days yet and I’ve only had 1 occasion that I’ve been offered a drink. I said I was on antibiotics, and that worked fine. But the holidays are coming up and I want to have a few other valid sounding excuses. Not quite ready to get into detail with people about the real reason I’m not drinking. Any advice? Thanks in advance!

    • R51 5 years ago

      How about “I’m saving my holiday calories for dessert”

    • Sammy 5 years ago

      Try , I have had a bit of a health scare or I need to lose weight

  10. Anonymous 5 years ago

    ALWAYS having someone hold my drink when I go out to smoke or go to the restroom at concerts & other public events. Don’t want to pick up the “wrong” drink by mistake or take the chance (and I’ve heard this before) of somebody tainting my beverage.

  11. Bjohn 5 years ago

    Hi Pipi, I am not proud to admit that I was once over zealous in wanting others to drink with me. Now that I have embarked on an alcohol free life style I realize how it was my own need to feel affirmed in my own drinking that motivated me to try to be persuasive.

  12. Anonymous 5 years ago

    “I’m running a Marathon tomorrow, so I’d rather stick to soft drinks”

  13. Angie Lewis 5 years ago

    “I have an ulcer (acid reflux) and I had to cut out alcohol – period”. This is true for me and makes it really easy.

  14. AnonAlcoholic 5 years ago

    “It doesn’t serve me anymore”. I like that one. Simple, and honest without revealing that by “serve” you mean that in fact, you weren’t in charge of it… and that is the best reason to quit.

    • Andymuso 2 years ago

      Like that

    • Lilliane 5 years ago

      Good one.

  15. Anonymous 5 years ago

    I’ve been struggling with this and sadly talking to my toxic family.

    This online community is a good start for me

  16. Anonymous 5 years ago

    I am just trying and starting this…
    I have been socializing in AA and outside a little

    I have been speaking more with my dad and Brother which has been great.

  17. MsLil 5 years ago

    I sometimes say “I have an allergy to alcohol”

  18. Tessa58 5 years ago

    My inspiration to remain successful is knowing my new and only granddaughter will never see her Nana drunk and will only every know me sober and loving.

  19. Anonymous 5 years ago

    Trust me when I say, the USA isn’t much different than NZ in terms of the % of teatotalers. I’m luck to have moved,back to the Midwest and the % increases here…more conservative. Actually, I was,probably one of the heaviest drinkers in my circle, so it makes it easier for me to deal with social situations.

    My big problem is boredom. Even when I was drinking I had to be doing something. Everything just seemed more entertaining after a glass of wine…or two. I’m retired so spend a LOT of time alone. I even find myself more entertaining after a couple glasses of wine. (My dog feels the same way.)

    Oh my. This could be a tough one. However my plan is to live to be 100 and that could be tricky without a liver. LOL

    Good luck everybody.

  20. Tracbean 5 years ago

    I love the comment I feel better when I don’t drink
    Will be using that one this weekend. I have a celebration Saturday with a group of friends I will
    Be having my club soda while they all
    Partake in alcohol. I need this work on having fun
    Without alcohol and getting past the thinking I
    Have to drink to have fun

  21. Sally Fletcher 5 years ago

    I say I don’t drink cos I’m on medication, that interacts with booze

  22. Sally Fletcher 5 years ago

    I say I don’t drink cos I’m on medication, that interacts with booze

  23. Anonymous 5 years ago

    I don’t worry about clever and I don’t feel the need to share my story when asked why we aren’t drinking. I just keep it simple and say, “I never drink. It doesn’t suit me.”
    And if someone persists I just say, “Really I am not going to have a drink. Please stop asking. Thanks.”
    Seems to work…oh and I never allow myself to feel awkward about it…because I love sober.

  24. Kiwigirl33 6 years ago

    I’m on Day 2, and have a big social event every weekend for the next 2 months. My go to is going to be one of the following depending who is asking,
    1. “I’m the sober driver”
    2. “I don’t feel like it tonight”
    3.”If you had my hangovers…you wouldn’t drink either”

    I’ll see how I go, I’m sure I will get shit as my family are big drinkers and don’ like non drinkers lol

    • Pollyonthewagon 5 years ago

      Great list of responses
      You will be fine

  25. Marc 6 years ago

    When they ask why don’t you drink I just tell them alcoholism

  26. Belladonna 6 years ago

    Just joined the group today..getting some really good advice and tips..thanks!

  27. ajmgrm430 6 years ago

    I have not had a drink in 2-1/2 years and I’m still having issues with anything we do that I had previously drank. Which I guess is almost everything! Vacations, dinners, picnics, weddings, etc! I keep thinking maybe I could just drink on special occasions, but a few days later I realize I wouldn’t stop. I have tried N/A beer and mock margaritas (beer and margaritas were my go to drinks), but it seems that alcohol gives me satisfaction and the virgin drinks just add calories. I miss socializing. I explain how hard this is to my husband, but he doesn’t understand, he thinks just quit and there should be no issues. It usually starts an argument since he just doesn’t understand. So I don’t talk to him anymore about it. Since I quit drinking our invitations have dropped too. People you thought were friends were actually only alcohol buddies. When asked why I quit I’m truthful, I had a problem just having a few!

    • Teazy 6 years ago

      I’m struggling with this too, hate having to explain myself and being made to feel like a party pooper, I recent drank again after visitors convinced me I was being anti social and that anyone can have a couple…well couple of bottles of wine maybe, yikes, hope we will figure this out. I hate social I occasions now where there’s lots of drinking and I used to love them, well we all know why ..

  28. Vic 6 years ago

    I can get the same way in hay fever season with white wine. It can also be a reaction to 221. But that’s not gonna bother me anymore because there will be no more white wines for me!!!

  29. Vic 6 years ago

    I normally say that I’ve done a lot of exercise that day and need to hydrate first. Then I get a water in a wine glass and no one asks me again.

  30. Anonymous 6 years ago

    No thanks! drink takes more from me than it gives these days!

  31. Anonymous 6 years ago

    Day 1 for me ,have to do this ,sick of the wasted weekends when I’m to hung over to enjoy anything really .Tired of continuing bargaining with myself . Last night drank wine then moved on to my sons expensive gin .Shameful

  32. Thesobersalesman 6 years ago – Dealing with people who question your sobriety.

  33. Maggie Meiklejohn 6 years ago

    Hey team,

    I’m 120 days sober today and an Honours design student in Wellington. I’m thinking of designing a platform or group where people can connect and make friends with other people who’ve decided to stop drinking. From my experience and talking to others at uni, it can be a bit lonely on a Friday or Saturday night when all of your friends are out drinking and you don’t feeling like being a sober driver or explaining why you’re not drinking… Have you found this to be an issue? And would you be interested in meeting sober buddies in your area and having sober activities to do? This website has a few suggestions like potluck dinners and stuff (

    Would love any suggestions or input you can offer 🙂


    • Eschia 6 years ago

      I’ve been having feelings of loneliness leading to resentments about choosing to not drink. I would be interested in meeting sober people in my area and having sober activities. Thanks for the link.

  34. Shebe 6 years ago

    I tell them the truth! My drinking was getting the best of me so I quit! I will go to the bar once a week to test myself and have a soda instead of a beer. I socialize for a brief time and go home. I have a lot of friends that still drink and they admire my self control thus far. They are drinking friends that know I have made my limits and do not ever push me. These are true people in my book. People who are supportive, yet they choose to sit and drink but are understanding of my delicate condition and my choices.

  35. Anonymous 6 years ago

    I have a big family event today and I plan on not drinking. I am nervous about this and trying to build myself up before I start my day. I only drink at weekends but I’m trying to stop that because of the way alcohol has been making me feel recently- anxious, depressed, lethargic, moody, shameful etc. I can’t stand these feelings anymore. I want to feel good and in a way I do feel good right now but I just know if I take that one drink, I will drink all day at the party and will feel like hell tomorrow. The house I’m going to is going to be full of people drinking. As long as certain people don’t push me and question why I’m not drinking I know there’s a good chance I can do this. I can enjoy conversations, enjoy the food, play with the kids, tidy up and then leave after a decent amount of time without being rude.
    I just had to get this out. I don’t really have anyone to talk to about this because they are all drinkers. They can handle it though. I can’t.

  36. Thesobersalesman 6 years ago – Some ideas for when you get asked why you quit drinking

  37. Debi 6 years ago

    My go to response is “Life is more fun without it.” This one does get a conversation going with my fellow Flight Attendant friends who’ve known me for years.

  38. cheyennemarie 6 years ago

    I have tried to quit a few times and every time I have said that I was getting sick from it, or that I am a better me when I don’t drink.

    I am not sure how to deal with social events, which is one of the reasons I am here.

  39. patty1955 6 years ago

    Sometimes I say “I’m not drinking today/tonight” or “I’m on medication” or “I may have an allergy to alcohol” Or I just say “I don’t drink”. It really depends on the situation. I use the “I don’t drink any more” around people who have known me for a long time. If they know me well enough, they know how I was when I was drinking and won’t say anything else. There are the ones of course who would like it if you kept drinking who will ask more questions or try to get you to drink.

  40. Stella-Mari 6 years ago

    My best line… “No thanks! Alcohol dulls my shine!”

  41. morgan 6 years ago – Holidaying: A positive light beamed on the sober life

  42. Anonymous 6 years ago

    Trying to stay right with God.

  43. Anonymous 6 years ago

    I don’t drink because I want a better tomorrow

  44. Maddie1 6 years ago

    I feel a huge sense of relief that I haven’t got to come home and have a wine anymore (79 days sober). I feel like the pressure is off and half the anxiety and stress that I had has gone. It gets easier every day and I feel so much happier without it. Good luck everyone!

  45. Anonymous 6 years ago

    I’m not sure if I’m posting in the right section here but I felt the need to get this out and this section (socialising sober) seemed fitting enough.
    I am in my late 30s and have drank all my life in “social” situations like “normal” folk. What no one realises (except my husband) is the guilt, angst and depression I go through in the 3 days after a drinking occasion. I have just woken up and finally come out of that horrible time after a drinking session on Saturday night there (it’s now Wednesday morning)…..and I am so relieved to be back in the real world.
    Before my drink on sat night, I had been sober for 35 days, I stopped on Friday the 6th of Jan, and I was feeling great, making progress in my life with regards to dealing with my feelings about things from the past, etc. However on Saturday I did a complete u-turn in my thinking and started to think “well, it’s the long February weekend, everyone’s treating themselves, I can rest all day Sunday, why not have a good drink and then that’s it done and I can go back to my nice sober life”. But it doesn’t work like that. I’ve lost 3 whole days and I hate that. That’s not what I want for my life. So I’m back to being sober and I’m so relieved about that however what do I do when the next holiday comes up? How do I get through family parties without drinking? My family are big drinkers and they don’t seem to suffer like I do.
    Thanks for reading/listening, it’s good to get it out.

    • patty1955 6 years ago

      I just recently started drinking after six years of sobriety. I can relate to the guilt, angst and depression. It is awful! My problem is I stopped working the program about a year ago. I don’t remember it being a conscious decision, I just stopped. I can’t even remember the day I stopped. But I regret it more than anything. You seem like you are truly committed. It is so hard, but it can be done. Good luck and God bless.

  46. HMR 6 years ago

    Watching the pennies watching my waistline or I find it an interesting social experiment to watch people look like while l remain sharp as a bell

  47. Tom4500 6 years ago

    I had fun with “Can’t. My hemorrhoids are acting up.” I found that no further embellishment was needed. It was end of discussion. Of course, not everyone will feel comfortable using that one, and it should be used with discretion. But I had fun with it a few times.

  48. morgan 6 years ago – A satirical blogger offers lots of suggestions as to getting through events

  49. Mrs D 6 years ago – This piece describes how I make mental lists in my mind when faced with a boozy event..

  50. Ingrid 6 years ago

    Preparing myself for this:
    Husband “I want to be healthier. Wanna join me?”
    Friends “Sober is the new black.”
    Colleagues “Wanna play a game of questions?” followed by more questions by me. Distraction! lol

    Back up for any occasion- I’ll follow Charlie Gilbert’s post. “I feel better when I don’t drink.”

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