alcohol at party

What to Say When Asked Why You Don’t Drink

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Maybe you’re out to lunch with a new friend or are heading to a party when it’s finally asked, the inevitable question: “why don’t you drink?” Now, you’re posed with another concern: Do you tell the person about your past addiction and current recovery, or do you try to avoid the subject? Should you be completely honest with this person?
Those who ask you this question aren’t entitled to an answer and the choice you make in this situation is likely to depend on who asked. There are ways you can handle the situation politely no matter who has asked. If you’re comfortable with talking about addiction, you may want to discuss that with the person you’re with and talk about your recovery program. If not, then simply saying you don’t like the taste or that you stopped drinking for personal reasons should be enough for the person to let the subject go.

Should You Discuss Your Addiction?

You don’t have to discuss your addiction with anyone, and no one is entitled to an explanation of your life or the choices you’ve made. If you feel comfortable talking about your addiction, you might say something like, “I used to drink, but I would binge and am now in recovery,” or “I stopped drinking because I was dependent and didn’t like how that made me feel.” These are honest answers, and they are also simple. They don’t require you to talk about everything that happened to you; they’re to the point and should be enough for the other person to understand that you don’t drink for very good personal reasons.
If you don’t want to talk about your addiction, and you don’t have to, then you can do a few things to satisfy the other person’s curiosity. You could just say, “I don’t want to,” or “I’m not in the mood.” If you don’t want to be honest with the person or are in a position where you don’t want to make it known that you struggled with addiction, you could say that you don’t like the taste or don’t like how alcohol makes you feel. Both are reasonable answers that should satisfy the other person’s curiosity.
Of course, you can just say you aren’t interested in drinking and change the subject.

Do You Owe Others a Response?

You never owe anyone any information about your past or present health unless you want to discuss it. If you feel pressed to answer, you might consider saying something like, “I prefer to have caffeine to help me stay awake,” or “I’m trying to drink more water.” You don’t have to tell someone about the struggles you’ve had in the past, and in some cases, you may not want to talk about it.
If you feel like you want to talk about your addiction and the help you’ve received or want to gain support from the person you’re with, you can. You could tell them that you’re sober and have been for a certain length of time, so you don’t want to drink. You could simply explain that you’re abstinent from alcohol. Or, you could tell the person that you’re attending substance abuse therapy or addiction meetings and are unable to drink.

friends having a picnic


What Will People Think If You Don’t Drink?

Initially, some people may be surprised that you don’t drink. It’s a fairly common social activity. Some people may suggest that you drink to have a good time or could think that you’re simply sheltered or don’t know what you’re missing. However, what that person thinks is of no consequence to you. Your health and wellness are what matter most.
Remember, there are many people who actually don’t like to drink or who don’t drink at all. You can reach out to these people through substance abuse programs, or you can simply meet them in your everyday life. There are people who have always been completely abstinent who will respect your right not to drink, and there are people who drink often who will as well. Finding the right friends and support system is the key to avoiding situations where people want to encourage you to participate in behaviors that you want to avoid.

What Can You Do If You Need More Support?

When you’re first leaving treatment or when you’ve been out of treatment for a while, you may feel that you have a harder time meeting people who don’t drink or who won’t expose you to drinking.
You can reach out to our helpful specialists at or call them at 1-844-489-0836 to find out more about the addiction recovery programs and social groups near you. There are people who are like you and who want to be in healthy, alcohol-free relationships.

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