How To Tell Friends You Don't Drink

Two women standing on a beach arm in arm.

The holiday's are upon us and so is the stress that comes with staying sober at your neighbors house.

When I quit drinking in 2013, I was embarrassed to share the news because I had no idea what to say. Do I tell my friends and extended family that I quit drinking, or do I tell them I'm taking a break? 

The fear of sharing a conversation about getting sober with those who only knew me for decades as a drinker caused me to panic, which was one of the main reasons I drank.

I spent so much time in indecision and fear about my drinking; when I quit, I was even more fearful about my not drinking. 

I didn't think being sober was going to be positively received. After all, drinking is cool, so sobriety isn't (or so I thought).

I didn't want to hear friends' opinions for two reasons: I expected them to be shocked, and I didn't want them to persuade me to keep drinking.

I knew in my soul after 30-years of drinking that I had to stand my ground to make sobriety stick, and I was highly doubtful of myself back then. 

Also, I was easily influenced when it came to drinking alcohol, aka, I was always up for drinking and getting drunk. 

I decided early on to only share my decision with people on a need to know basisI hadn't figured out what my drinking or not drinking meant; I couldn't expect anyone else to understand. 

I had lots of questions thrown my way, like why are you not drinking; is it because of your health? Or what do you mean, forever?! 

Many friends and family supported my continuing to drink by saying: you don't have to quit drinking, or you're just taking a break, you'll be back. 

Neither of us knew what me no longer being the party girl meant or how it would impact our relationship. It's human nature to be frightened of something different. 


When people change, there is a fear that you will drift apart. I had that fear, and so did people close to me. 


But, I was more afraid of what my drinking would do to my relationship with myself, so I had to create boundaries and say no to going out, and give myself time to make sense of it all. 

If you are worried about what people will think of you not drinking, I understand how you feel. Please ask yourself if your relationships are worth you continuing to drink to maintain. 

If you know deep down in your soul that you will lose someone because you don't drink, maybe it's time to take a break from alcohol and see what happens. 

We never know until we try, and most of my worry about what other people thought was all in my head. 

It's human nature to care about other people's opinions, and in the middle of life, we start to care less. You don't have to please others by drinking, and you don't have to explain why you choose not to drink. 

If a friend or family member insists that you drink this holiday or beyond and it's stressing you out, try these short (painless) sentences: 

  1. I'm the designated driver; I'm not drinking. 
  2. I have to get up early tomorrow and (fill in the blank - work, run a marathon, Christmas shopping) and don't want to be hungover.
  3. I'm taking better care of my skin, and alcohol dehydrates me. 
  4. Why do you keep asking me if I want to drink or why I'm not drinking? (a question with a question will keep them quiet) 
  5. No, thank you, I'm taking a break from drinking. 

Also, in 2020, there aren't as many gatherings; maybe this is the year you skip. Protect yourself and with whom you share your choices. It's not up to you to make anyone understand why you choose not to drink. 

Lastly, if you decide to go alcohol-free, you are doing something hard that most people won't do. Be proud of yourself, and know that getting through the challenging period (aka suck period) will get you to the other side where next year at this time, you won't care about what people think. 


Suggested Reading: 

The Top Five Objections to Getting Sober

What I Would Do If I Had To Get Sober Again 

I Was a Mom Who Drank Too Much 


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