How to Say No to Drinks When You’re Cutting Back

When you’re working on changing your relationship to alcohol, every now and then you might miss some part of drinking – like the social aspect. If you feel this way, it’s normal and helpful to acknowledge this and then work through it, rather than deny your own truth.

And that means, sometimes you’ll say “no” to a drink when you actually want to say “yes.” Here are a few tips and tricks on how to do it:

  1. Remind yourself of the big picture. You’re being offered what used to be your favorite drink after a long day and that one drink would push you past your drinking goal. Try “zooming out” to see the big picture. From this perspective, focus on the benefits of sticking with your goals. Breaking your own rules undoes the good work you’ve been doing. Consider reminding yourself how you may feel about this tomorrow.

  2. Remember your values. If you badly want to say yes, remind yourself of the values important to you, and how drinking relates to those values. They might be family, success, or personal growth (read more about attuning yourself to your values here). Connect to them, and let them help strengthen your resolve.

  3. Surf the urge. Imagine the urge you feel is a powerful wave and you're riding it to completion. This is a powerful technique that has helped thousands of people.

  4. Contact your Annum coach. If you're on the verge of a lapse, delay your decision by 15 minutes, step away from the situation and contact your coach or a trusted loved one for support.

  5. Leave. If your other coping strategies are failing you, leave the situation. Changing your environment can often be the powerful tactic in itself.

Different ways to say no… to a drink

Make sure whichever one you select from this list feels and sounds like your own voice. Many people also find it helpful to practice a few times before the event!

The deflection: Sometimes the best way to get around the offer of a drink is to simply change the subject or deflect.

  • I’m good. So, what’s new with you?
  • Actually I’m parched: could you grab me a water?
  • I saw someone drinking my favorite type of seltzer; I might grab one of those to start.

The truth: If you feel comfortable, be honest. If you don’t want to expand upon your drinking status, follow this statement up with a swift change of topic.  

  • No thanks, I don’t drink alcohol.
  • I actually don’t drink on weeknights.
  • I actually don’t drink anymore, but thank you.

The little white lie: Lying is never the answer but once in a blue moon a harmless white lie might just be easier than the bald truth.

  • I can’t, I’m driving.
  • No thanks, I’m actually feeling a bit under the weather.
  • Someone else is getting me one, thanks.

Different ways to say no… to a happy hour

The deflection:

  • I can’t make it, but can we get lunch next Monday?
  • That place is loud and overpriced. Why don’t we grab coffee from that new bakery after work tomorrow?
  • I’d love to hang out but I’m swamped right now. I’ll let you know when I’m free.

The truth:

  • I’m actually not drinking alcohol these days, so I think I’ll pass.
  • Oh, I actually don’t drink! So bars have lost their appeal for me, but thank you for asking!
  • I don’t drink on weeknights – it’s new, and bars are still a bit of a challenge for me. Hope you understand.

The little white lie:

  • Thanks, but I already have plans!
  • I have a ton of work to catch up on tonight.
  • I’m totally broke right now, but have fun.

Remember –  this process can (and should be) on your own terms. Find what works best for you and stick with it. I hope these tips and tricks were a helpful place to start!

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