Dec 30: Explaining Not Drinking

Explaining Not Drinking

Very soon, many of us will be in situations where drinking is more or less expected. New Year’s Eve may be the drunkest day of the year. So how does a newly sober alcoholic explain why they’re not drinking?

It’s important to realize that we don’t owe explanations to anyone. “No thank you” is a very short sentence. But when you’re new to sobriety, it seems like a huge issue. Won’t the people who know us wonder what’s going on? After partying hard for many prior New Years, we may feel like everyone is noticing the change.

I certainly feared what people would say or think. I already felt like a complete failure because I had to stop drinking. I was already guilty and ashamed of my alcoholic behaviors. I was ashamed that I was an alcoholic. I was ashamed that I couldn’t drink without making a fool of myself. I built the ‘explanation’ issue into a huge mountain that I just didn’t think I could climb. So, I stayed home alone – and lonely – through my first New Years holiday.

What was useful for me was to hear what other alcoholics had done to explain their sudden change. Over time, I worked out my own personal – and very true – explanation: “It makes me sick.” But my reason may not fit for everyone. Some people volunteer to be the designated driver – a wonderful way to both explain and stay sober!

For me, the short simple statement feels right. “I already have a headache” or “My stomach’s upset” work well. “I’m allergic” is another good one – and very true. “I’m driving” is becoming more understandable these days. But there must be a hundred other ways to tell your friends you’re not drinking.

There’s one other aspect of the dilemma: making sure you don’t get any booze by surprise. Bringing or pouring your own drinks is the best way to be sure there is no alcohol in your drink.

Sisters, how do/did you let people know you aren’t in the booze business anymore?