There are many social obligations that tend to involve alcohol within the activities planned. For example, maybe you’re going on a first date and you’re asked if you wanted to share a bottle of wine? Maybe you have been invited to go to a Christmas party for work and there will be an open bar there and you know others will be drinking alcohol and you’re not sure what to say? Maybe you’re simply out having Sunday lunch with family friends and relatives and they ask you why you’re not drinking alcohol now as you always had “one too many” drinks when you all went out last time?
What you say and how you say it, will ensure that firstly, you don’t get embarrassed and you can be proud of the changes you are making and have made and secondly, everyone knows where you stand so that it doesn’t come up again at a later date, meaning it won’t become a trigger or temptation for you if someone were to accidentally buy you an alcoholic drink because they didn’t know that you don’t drink alcohol anymore. It can be difficult to say no to alcohol or drugs without embarrassment. However, it is possible to enjoy these activities as well as keep your sobriety/abstinence. In order to disclose your addiction to someone, it is important to be prepared with well-practiced responses and a prearranged escape plan for different scenarios.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail“
If You’re Still Using
Worrying about how to say no to alcohol, drugs or any other type of addiction, or wondering how to tell someone that you’re an addict is an essential first step toward recovering from your addiction and staying clean/sober. By acknowledging your problem of addiction, you have already overcome the denial stage of your recovery. Many people consider this as the biggest hurdle to getting clean/sober. After you have acknowledged your problem to your self, you can then tell other people and disclose your addiction to others as you can’t change something if you don’t believe you have a problem then needs changing in the first place. Start a conversation with a trusted friend, family member or colleague when you are clean/sober, or at least calm. Avoid choosing someone who also abuses or is addicted to alcohol or drugs. Say something along the lines of, “I abuse alcohol and/or drugs, and I have not been able to quit by myself. I think I need help because I am an addict and I know I cannot stop without help.” Or, “My previous history of using drugs and/or alcohol has caught up with me so I’m trying to take steps to resolve it.” If the person you are speaking with does not believe you or are not willing to help you, try to discover their true intentions and whether they really are someone you need in your life at the moment. Those who are genuinely interested in what you have to say, are sympathetic toward you and willing to help you as best as they can.
You can speak to a Keyworker at your nearest drug and alcohol service who can advise you based on your own individual circumstances. If you’re not sure who you should tell and who you shouldn’t, write down a list of those you feel that you want to tell or who need to know and take time to think about it before you tell them. You can’t take it back once the cat is out of the bag so taking time first may benefit you!
After Abstinence/Sobriety: Keeping It Simple for First Impressions
Telling someone that you are an alcoholic or drug addict can feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t know the person you are talking to that well. You do not have to share the details of your addiction with them if you do not feel comfortable to do so. Simply saying “No thanks, I don’t fancy a pint of beer at the moment” may be enough information for that situation without telling them things that you don’t want them to know. Additionally, you definitely should not accept a drink or take drugs just to avoid embarrassment, as this will be detrimental to any progress you have made in quitting your addiction and attempts to ask others for help may seem false. Instead, practice telling the truth in a low-profile, low-stress way. Try practicing short and straightforward responses, such as “Thanks for the offer, but I just do not feel good after I drink, even in small amounts.” You can also try, “No, thanks. I’m working on improving my health right now, and I just cannot drink or use drugs.” Or, “no thanks, I don’t like the way I feel after using drugs.” You do not need to explain yourself in any additional way. Good friends will understand that your health comes first and should not pressure you to drink or use drugs in any situation if they are true, caring friends.
How To Disclose Your Addiction When the Time is Right
As time passes and you get to know your new friends better, you may become comfortable enough to talk about your past. Be honest and stay calm. Choose a time when you can speak privately and without interruption. Although you do not have to share every last detail of your past, you could say something similar to: “I do not drink or do drugs because I am recovering from addiction,” or “In the past, I spent too much time and money on drugs and it became a problem for me so I don’t use them anymore.” You may be surprised to discover that your new friend also has experience with addiction — whether his or her own struggles or that of a loved one. Millions of UK residents and their family members deal with substance abuse/addiction issues every day. Be honest and clear — and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you think you are in danger of a lapse or relapse. A real friend or family member will help you stay clean/sober.
Practice Deflecting Questions
Sometimes, it seems that people forget their manners when discussing addiction and recovery. No matter what type of openness you decide on, you’re likely to encounter some questions that you feel are too intrusive.
Consider ahead of time how you’ll respond to these. “Why do you ask?” Or “it’s a long story” is a simple and polite response that puts the onus back on the person you’re talking too. Most likely, they’ll realise what they’re asking about is none of their business, giving you a chance to put the conversation back on grounds that you’re comfortable with.
Saying No To Alcohol And Drugs
Here are some tips when telling someone no. You may need to adapt these depending on who you speak to and how firm you need to be but it gives you a good, firm basis to work from.
- Hey Look the person in the eye.
- In a firm voice, tell the person you don’t want to drink or use drugs. Saysomething like: …
- Give a reason why you don’t want to drink or use drugs. Say something like: …
- Ask the person not to ask you to drink or use drugs again. …
- If you notice that someone does have drugs, leave the area.
Some Other Examples:
- I don’t drink.
- I’m driving.
- I’m allergic.
- Thanks, but do you have any Ovaltine?
- I’m on a hunger strike.
- Who do you think I am? Ms. Sant? Drinkin’ out of cups?
- I’m diabetic.
- See that dude over there? He’s drinking for the both of us. Just send drinks his way.
- I’m on a diet.
- No thanks.
- I’m pregnant.
- I’m the designated driver.
- I’m trying to pace myself.
- I’m fasting.
- It’ll make me too sleepy.
- None for me, thanks!
- I’ll pass.
- Thanks, but I never combine alcohol with meth.
- I’m not thirsty.
- I’m still drunk from last night.
- “Sorry, I like to be difficult.”
- I’m feeling a bit queasy right now. Probably not a good idea.
- I’ve got to give up really early tomorrow.
- I’m Mormon.
- I can’t have it with my medication.
- I’m a recovering alcoholic.
- Pass! Pass! Pass! OHAAAYO!!
- I’m trying to cut back.
- I’m already feeling a bit tipsy.
- I can’t.
- No thanks, I’m still digesting that napkin.
- Thanks, but I promised my boyfriend I’d not embarrass him tonight.
- I’m in the middle of a detox, but thanks.
- I’m still hungover.
- Thanks for the offer, but I only drink Laings Ben Ewe Whisky.
- I’m too broke to be drinking right now.
- Last time I drank, I got in this epic bar fight… I promised myself not to drink again until the bruises heal.
- I’m not big on the taste, but thanks.
- Thanks, but all I want right now is a glass of warm milk. And a blankie.
- Whoah—ok, GREAT. Now you’ve reminded me how bad I have to go pee.
- Not a good idea. I’m an angry drunk.
- GO AWAY.
- I gave booze up for lent.
- It’s against my religion.
- I’m training really hard right now—no alcohol for me.
- I’m a vampire.
- I already have to go pee… this’ll just do me in.
- I had a terrible experience with alcohol a while back… Still recovering from it.
- And how am I supposed to measure those calories?
- LOOK! A donkey!
- My partner always have ways of finding out these things and then you’ll be in trouble too.
- No, I’m saving all my money to buy a motorbike.
- No, I’m really not into that stuff.
- No thanks, I tried it once, hated it and threw up all over the couch.
- No thanks, I need all the brains I’ve got.
- No thanks, I know someone who died from that stuff and I couldn’t do it to my family and friends.
- No thanks. I’ve heard it takes one’s sex drive away.
- No thanks, doing illegal stuff just doesn’t turn me on.
- My life’s difficult enough without having to deal with this added hassle.