If you’ve ever chosen to take a temporary or permanent break from alcohol, you may have come to dread the all-too-common question: “Why aren’t you drinking?” Despite the fact that this question is kind of rude, invasive, and frankly unnecessary (I mean, it’s kind of your business, right?), people love to ask it, especially if your departure from the drink-in-hand club comes as a surprise.
Here are some tips for answering this question from two different perspectives: 1) the easier, “white lies are harmless” perspective, and 2) the more challenging, “Let’s get honest and real” perspective.
Easy Answers and White Lies
There is an abundance of easy ways to dismiss the pesky drinking question in a way that naturally moves the conversation onto a new topic quickly.
“I’m driving.” “I have to get up early tomorrow.” “I’m training for a race.” “I’m on a diet.” “I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow.” These are all easy excuses and some of them may actually be true for you at times.
At BDC, we think “Because hangovers suck!” is one of the best excuses (strike that—reasons) out there because nobody can possibly disagree!
Sometimes being honest and vulnerable about why we need to take a break from alcohol actually inspires other people, and opens the door to bigger, more honest conversations. We encourage you to tell the truth about your choice to take a break or quit drinking, and you should feel awesome about doing so. We know all about the fear of being seen as a “buzzkill,” but most people worth hanging out with should totally respect your honesty and authenticity.
Try out: “I’m taking a break from alcohol because…”
“I didn’t like the way it was affecting my life.” or
“I want to make sure I’m not becoming dependent on it.”
Or simply say, “I quit drinking.” This declaration might rock people’s worlds for a moment, but the shock factor will wear off. Most people are much more concerned about what’s going on in their own heads than your drinking choices, so don’t sweat what they think. Realizing this can be a big step in letting go of your self-consciousness around the issue. Becoming empowered to tell the truth about your own choice is a positive thing. And, if people are sincerely curious about your decision to take a break or quit, it might be because they’re having some difficulties with alcohol themselves. Being genuine with others can encourage them to make a needed change as well.
We can't expect all of society to get on board with a "better drinking culture" if we can't be honest and open about the ways alcohol has the potential to negatively affects our lives. Perpetuating taboos around alcohol by refusing to talk about its less glamorous side doesn’t help anyone. We hope that speaking up and refusing to apologize for your choice will feel empowering, and ultimately lead to better, more honest conversations about our drinking with those we care about.
about the author
Carrie is a travel-obsessed California girl now living the digital nomad dream in Asia. She's also a former craft beer nerd and bartender turned sober woo-woo hippie yoga teacher. Besides travel and yoga, her other obsessions are photography, coffee, vegan food, and breaking the stigma about addiction! Find her on her travel blog.