It’s saturday night, and my friend from work invites me out to unwind from the busy week we’ve had. We head out to the downtown strip to walk around and socialize. We meet up with some more friends at a restaurant. All of a sudden I’m getting drinks pushed into my face from macho men screaming “here ya go! drink up!” I reply “No thanks, I don’t drink” waiting to hear the “whats?” and “why nots?” I stay assertive and proud to be the only one in the group that doesn’t drink. “I just don’t, it’s not a part of the way I live.” There is no fear, no shame, and no temptation. I have a healthy life, and love it.
I have to keep this mindset to navigate through these situations. I am proud to be sober. I struggled with this in the beginning of my recovery. I was scared of what to say, fearful of being judged. Do I always have to explain to people my past? Are they going to instantly view me different? These are all perfectly normal thoughts. The truth is, people respect it. I don’t have to go into detail about what got me there. And only I know what I’ve gone through. I would often think people would see me as who I used to be in addiction when they found out. That is not the case, people only know you for who you are today. I’ve found that a simple and clear statement is all that is needed. Often, there really aren’t any rebudles to my declinations.
This takes practice of course. Its ok to be nervous in these situations. It’s a new, uncommon experience that we have to learn to go through. So how do we practice this? Do I purposely go out to bars and wait for people to offer me drinks? Of course not. However we know these situations will arise. First we must think of our game plan for such an offer. The simple steps I take are as follows:
- Deny in a clear, closed ended statement. This means to deny with confidence, and don’t feel pressured to say something like, “no I’m not drinking tonight” thinking there’s less judgement with a statement like this. Instead, say “No, I don’t drink, but thanks.” This closes the discussion. If someone persists. Just repeat it, and they’ll stop. If they ask why, just say you don’t. They don’t need an explanation unless you want to offer one. It can be simply that you live a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t involve alcohol or drugs.
Have an out. If things ever get uncomfortable, leave. Have a backup plan. Call a friend in recovery. Bring someone with you. There are plenty of ways to leave the situation.
- It’s that easy. Someone that is assertive, strong, and healthy is a respectable thing. I find that people are more interested in me like this. It can be a conversation starter as well. Every time I deny a drink or drug offer, my confidence gets boosted. I feel more empowered and grateful for my journey. I tend to avoid situations if I know it will be nothing but intoxicated people, however I am not fearful of being there. I no longer feel limited or insecure in my sobriety by overcoming this fear. Try it this way if you encounter an offer and see for yourself the feeling of freedom that comes along with owning your healthy, sober lifestyle.
At Tree House Recovery, we’re helping men find freedom from addiction. Our treatment programs create sustainable change for sustainable recovery by helping men find their strength in body, mind, and spirit. For information on our Orange County programs, call us today: (855) 202-2138