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How to Say No at a Holiday Party

We live in a drinking culture and no matter how fastidious you are about avoiding situations that might tempt you to drink, you can never avoid them entirely. One such situation is the holiday party. Quite often, holiday cheer comes in a bottle, or sometimes a punch bowl. You might have all kinds of conflicting emotions and anxieties. You don’t want to drink, but you don’t want to be rude. You may not want people to know you are an alcoholic, but neither do you want someone offering you a drink every three minutes. If it’s the holiday season and you’re likely to attend a party or two, it’s best to have a strategy ready.

Keep things in perspective.

Your sobriety is far more important than your worries about offending your host. You will definitely and firmly decline a drink. The only question is how to do it as gracefully as possible. A good host will want her guests to be happy and if you are satisfied with not drinking, then she should be too.

Have a reason.

The simpler the better. No one ever argues with, “I’m the designated driver tonight.” If that doesn’t work for some reason, “I have to be up early,” is a good backup, or, depending on your job, “I’m on call.” Try to avoid excuses that will lead to follow up questions or other complications. Pleading a medical condition might be more trouble than it’s worth. Also, be careful of reasons that sound condescending, like “I’m trying to be healthier.” No one likes to feel guilted over a holiday eggnog.

Don’t waver.

If you pause or equivocate, it might seem like you’re waiting to be convinced. The answer is no. Give your reason. Be polite but firm. If someone persists, reassert your reason. If he still persists, it’s his problem, not yours.

Have a substitute.

If there is a drink in your hand, people are less likely to offer you one. If you have told a few people you are the designated driver, you can drink whatever you want. If you are concerned about keeping up appearances, Sprite with a lime is nearly indistinguishable from a gin and tonic. Just make sure to keep track of your drink and make sure you know what’s in it, as you don’t want a drink mix-up to cause you to relapse.

Keep in mind that whether you drink is a huge deal to you but no one else is likely to notice. If someone does notice, he’s not likely to care. Most people will be too preoccupied with their own drinking to notice yours, or rather, your lack thereof. This will be glaringly obvious after one or two holiday parties where you are the only person not drinking.

If you need help for addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help. We offer medically assisted detox and we are equipped to treat dual diagnoses, including depression. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com to learn more.