What Do I Say If Someone Offers Me A Drink?

Are you feeling self-conscious about saying “no” to alcohol in social situations? Here are 16 phrases you can use to turn down a drink.

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Refusal Phrases

Refusal phrases are go-to sentences that people can use as a response if someone offers them alcohol. Some people prefer to be direct and concise, and other people prefer to give a reason why they cannot drink. You can choose whichever route you are most comfortable with saying.

Straight To The Point

The direct approach is my personal favorite* strategy to use when I turn down alcohol in social situations. I have found that people very rarely apply pressure or ask follow-up questions when I am direct.

  • “No, I’m okay.”
  • “Naah, I don’t feel like drinking today.”
  • “I don’t want any, thank you.”
  • “I’m not drinking right now.”
  • “I’m in recovery.”
  • “I don’t drink.”

Alternative Reasons

The direct approach is not for everyone. Some people either feel uncomfortable with a straightforward approach, or they feel like they need to give a reason. If you are not a fan of being direct, here are some alternatives phrases that you can use:

  • “I’m drinking this” (hold up a beverage that does not contain alcohol)- This is a strategy I am borrowing from a former patient. He navigated social situations by either bringing his own non-alcoholic beverage or getting one as soon as he arrived. He would make sure to always have that non-alcoholic beverage in his hand. Anytime someone offered him a drink, he would just hold up his drink and say, “I’m drinking this.”
  • “I am on a diet”- Technically speaking, excluding alcohol from your diet is a diet. * With this one, be prepared for questions about your diet. For some reason, people feel like it’s completely normal to ask other people a lot of questions about their diets.
  • “I am trying to cut back on sugar”- A lot of alcoholic beverages contain sugar, so it makes senes that someone that is cutting back on sugar would avoid drinking. *If you use this one, you should probably be mindful of the food that you eat. It might arouse some suspicion if you say you don’t want alcohol because you are cutting back on sugar, and then you go to town on dessert.
  • “I am trying to lose weight.”- I have lost track of how many people I have known that have lost weight just by giving up alcohol.
  • “I am trying to be more healthy.”- People are unlikely to argue that it is more healthy to drink alcohol than it is to abstain.
  • “No thanks, I can’t drink with my medication.”- A lot of types of medications (allergy medications, antibiotics, and antidepressants, to name a few) should not be combined with alcohol. Because there are so many types of medications that interact with alcohol, the chances are that the people at the party with you are familiar with this, so you probably do not need to be specific here…Also, it’s not usually socially acceptable to ask people what medications they take.
  • “No, thanks, I have acid reflux.”- Most people that consume alcohol are aware that alcohol is acidic, and therefore will contribute to acid reflux. I have used this one before, and nobody has ever pushed back after I said it. I did get a lot of stories about other people’s acid reflux, though.
  • “I am having a competition with my friend to see who can give up alcohol for longer.”- Most people respect the friendly competition. Potential issues with this one are that they might ask who you are competing with, and they might say something like, “They won’t find out.”

Practice, Practice, Practice

This might sound silly, but hear me out. Try practicing a few of these lines before you go out. This will help you figure out what you feel comfortable saying, and it will help you with your delivery. You do not need to practice all of them, just pick a few that you can keep in the back of your mind so that you will know exactly what to say if you ever find yourself being offered alcohol.

Written by

Mental Health Counselor, Substance Abuse Counselor, Wellness Instructor, Digestive Illness Advocate & The Human Half of a Therapy Dog Team

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