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    Wondergirl Posts: 39,354, Reputation: 5431
    Jobs & Parenting Expert

    Jan 21, 2013, 12:28 PM
    Saying no to the first drink (by KD3)
    The fact that you have trouble at parties/social occasions saying no to the first drink likely indicates that you are either an alcoholic or someone who eventually will be an alcoholic if you keep going with your drinking behavior. "Normies" (people who can drink socially/ normally) don't have a problem not drinking in social situations.

    If you have friends who push you to drink, maybe it's time that you associated with a new group of friends. Real friends should understand and respect that you don't want a drink and not try to push it on you or try to make you feel rejected.

    In truth, the people who "push" and "argue" the hardest about YOU not drinking probably have the biggest problems themselves and don't want to stand out. They want everyone to drink (and ASSUME that everyone drinks or should want to drink like they do.) These are probably the first people whom you need to avoid.

    Continuing to hang out with these types of people is a very risky situation. As we say in recovery programs, "If you hang around a barbershop long enough, you're going to get a haircut!!" (Substitute bars or heavy drinkers or whatever into that sentence.)

    If you have a legitimate reason to be in a bar or drinking situation (to be social, not to drink!), you still need to plan for how to avoid the first drink.

    (1) Check your motives. Be honest with yourself. Are there reasons for you to be there besides alcohol?

    (2) Make sure your physical & emotional state is not in a weakened position -- which might make you more likely to imbibe. (One memory-aid, for example, is "HALT"... don't be hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.) If you are in a weak position, maybe you need to pass on this situation.

    (3) Have safety nets. Make sure you have one or more friends who are either sober or who will respect your decision and support you. Also, do not get "stranded" at a party with no way to leave. If you don't drive yourself, have a way to get out of there without depending on other people.

    (4) Don't make excuses. If someone asks you if you want a drink, all you have to say is "NO". They don't need to hear why or "not tonight" or any weak-willed response. If someone asks you if you don't drink, you don't have to say "I used to ... " Just say, "No, I don't drink" -- or if they know you have in the past, say "I don't want a drink tonight." Don't open up discussions about it that might make them try to convince you it's okay to "just have one." If you're like many of us in recovery, there is no such thing as "just one drink."

    (5) Keep a (NON-ALCOHOLIC) drink in your hand at all times so that someone won't offer to "buy you a drink." Something that LOOKS like a real mixed drink works well... sprite or ginger ale with a twist of lime for example. Or you could order a VIRGIN version of a Bloody Mary or a similar drink. You could even discretely make arrangement with the bartender beforehand and tell him do NOT serve you any alcohol whether you ask for it or not and tell him what your "usual" (NON-ALCOHOLIC) drink is so that you can order refills without highlighting to others that you aren't drinking. Some bars even give free non-alcoholic drinks to Designated Drivers.

    Why don't I recommend an obvious soft drink? If you're used to hanging around drinking buddies, it will likely invite more discussion and make it harder to decline. You don't want to draw attention to yourself. And most people won't care either way -- unless they have a problem themselves. If you're not drinking, you'll start to notice others who aren't drinking either (and who you never noticed) or you will have how little other people really drank (even though us heavy drinkers often assumed everyone was drinking like we did.)

    In case you *DO* have a problem with alcohol, I would not recommend sipping "O'doul's" or other "non-alcoholic" beers. There are trace amounts of alcohol in those that in an alcoholic might set off the "phenomenon of craving" for more alcohol.

    (6) Have a written list of WHY you don't want to drink tonight. Keep it in your pocket and pull it out if you get dicey. Remember all the positive reasons for not drinking and all the negatives that can happen if you do.

    (7) Have a phone safety net as well as one there in person -- people who you can talk to for advice and support who might not be able to be there in person to support you. And even if you don't plan to use it, have a few numbers of taxi companies who can whisk you out of there, or in larger cities you might keep the schedule of mass transit such as buses or subways.

    (8) Have plans to leave at a reasonable hour. Chances are, if you're not drinking, you'll tire of watching your friends get sloshed as the night goes on anyway and you'll decide you would rather spend those hours getting some shut-eye and waking up refreshed at a reasonable hour the next day.

    Good luck with making these changes!

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