Saying no when friends want you drinking

Last week we wrote about Irish society encouraging us to drink all the time and how hard it is  saying no to drink. This week we give some thoughts on how to say no when under pressure from friends to drink.


What situations will put you under pressure to say no?

It’s much easier to say no when you’ve thought about the situation when you’re going to be under pressure to stay no.

Every situation is different but what is really important is that you have confidence in saying no.

So practise at home how you are going to say no.


Try out different ways of saying no

“No, thank you. I’m not drinking this evening.”

“No, thank you. I don’t drink.”

“No, thank you. I have to drive my friends  home.”

“No, thank you. I have to drive myself home.”

“No, thank you. I’m not thirsty at the moment.”

“No, thank you. I am still recovering from a cold.”

“Thanks, but I’m pacing myself.”

“Thanks, but I’m still hung over from last night.”

“Thank you for the offer, but I’d really rather not.”

“Thank you, but no. Perhaps another time.”

“I’m fine right now, I may take you up on it in a little bit,”

At this time of the year you can even say

“No you’re grand, I’m off it for Lent.”


Avoid long explanations

Don’t get sucked into long explanations of why you’re not drinking unless you find it helpful to talk about your drinking. You’re more likely to give in to having a drink if you start debating your choices.


The broken record strategy

 Many people find the broken record strategy is useful.

This is where you just keep repeating yourself. You might say something like,

“I hear you but no, perhaps another time.”


Make a joke about not drinking

Often humour can be a great way to avoid getting caught in an argument. Examples  include

“I don’t need to loosen up. I just got it together.”

“I’m saving my brain cells for science so I can’t.”

“I have to perform brain surgery in the morning”

“I’m pregnant with Benedict Cumberbatch’s baby”

More examples include

“No thanks, the last time I drank, I stole the person’s wallet who served it to me!”

“No thanks, I’m allergic to drink…I break out in handcuffs when I drink”

Or as Lady Nancy Astor said

“One reason why I don’t drink is because I wish to know when I am having a good time”


More help available

We’ve more helpful suggestions in our  free podcast on saying no, which you can listen to here.

This post was written by Carol

As some who gets hangovers lasting a week, Carol never drank too much - Once she got to a sensible age! However as a patient with an auto immune illness, since she was a teenager she has to drink very little. So she really understands how Irish society makes this very difficult. Carol is responsible for all aspects of Lifewise operations that Valerie and Angela do not cover.

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