Say NO to drinking and drugging

 Strategies To Say No To Alcohol And Drugs This Festive Season

Saying No to alcohol and drugs is always tough, the road to recovery is tough at any stage however it becomes an even bigger challenge as the festive season takes over.

It is at these times that a strong support network of friends who understand the struggles of addiction recovery is so important to have nearby.
Good friends are not only important as a way for a former drug user to voice his or her frustrations about life in recovery, but they play an integral part during that person’s journey in recreating a new life for him or herself.

no-to-alcohol-and-drugsBut what happens when you don’t have the support you need as a recovering addict or a newly sober person and you get invited to a party, you know, THAT kind of party?

Don’t stress, we have a few things you can say and do to ensure your recovery armor is on, ready to deflect any possible arrows of relapse.

Straight up you need to repeat this to every single one of your friends. “My new life will not include drinking or drugs. Ever.” You cannot control how your friends choose to spend their leisure time, however when you are around these friends or go to parties where they do what they see as alright, you are most likely going to be exposed to, and offered, sometimes under pressure, a drink or drugs.

This can obviously create issues for you and those around you offering the item. This is sometimes referred to as ‘peer pressure’ and in adults it is quite a dangerous form of pressure.

What is adult peer pressure?

Most adults will more than likely deny that their choices are influenced by external sources, but with the prevalence of advertising materials in everyday life, the fact of the matter is that persuasion works on everybody.

This effect may vary from person to person but it is a little talked about fact that the most pressure can often come from a friend. Have you noticed how two people who are drinking together end up having the same drinks order? “I’ll have the same as she’s having,” sound familiar? It’s a subtle but important habit to acknowledge. Now imagine being the sober one in the dual drinking scenario. You may have started with an orange juice but if the temptation of that cocktail is entered into the equation let’s be honest, who would be more likely to change their drink? The drinker or the recovering alcoholic?

To combat this potential relapse (we are going to discuss the things to say in a bit), you need a few tips and tricks to dodge peer pressure at your next festive season party/get together.


Just a note: While the safest way to cut out any influences is to avoid any interaction with alcohol. Especially if friends are still engaged in social drinking activities, it may even be important for the social life of someone in recovery to keep friendships going with others so you need to keep that in mind. You cannot just run away from everything and everyone, especially if they are good people (run from the bad ones, obviously).


First rule: No to alcohol and drugs  – Do not hesitate to REFUSE.

  • While friends may be well-meaning, they may not understand the realities of recovery as intricately as someone working through it, and they may take hesitation as a sign of uncertainty. A quick refusal signals clear intentions.
  • Short responses to an offer do not leave room for discussion can be an effective way to communicate that someone does not want to drink.
  • Work on building your drink refusal skillset. Learn clear and smart cognitive ways to say no, and without causing or receiving offence.
  • Plan ahead to stay in control

It is crucial that you recognize the types of pressure that can be put onto you at a festive season party. It’s going to either be DIRECT or INDIRECT pressure.

Direct social pressure is when someone offers you a drink or an opportunity to drink.

Indirect social pressure is when you feel tempted to drink just by being around others who are drinking, even if no one offers you a drink.

You need to take a moment to think about situations where you feel direct or indirect pressures to drink. Maybe write a list and for each situation, choose some resistance strategies to combat them.

Say NO to drinking and drugging… Here are a few strategies we recommend:

  1. Avoid pressure when possible

Say NO to drinking and druggingIn some situations, your best strategy may be avoiding them altogether. If you feel guilty about avoiding an event or turning down an invitation, remind yourself why you are doing it and that you are building up your levels of resistance. When you have confidence in your resistance skills, you may decide to ease gradually into situations you are currently avoiding. As an alternative stay connected with friends by suggesting alternate activities that don’t involve drinking.

  1. Cope with situations you can’t avoid

Know your “no.” When you know alcohol will be served, it’s important to have some resistance strategies lined up in advance. If you expect to be offered a drink, you’ll need to be ready to deliver a convincing turn down of the offer. A strong “no thanks” should suffice. Be clear, firm, friendly and respectful. Avoid long explanations and excuses as they just serve to prolong the situation. Use these tips to create a strong reply:

  • Don’t hesitate with your answer as that will give you the chance to doubt yourself.
  • Look directly at the person and make eye contact
  • Keep your response short and simple.

When you are offered a drink the person offering may not know you are a recovering alcoholic and his or her level of insistence may vary. Have a series of responses ready in case the person persists. They can vary from a simple refusal to a more assertive reply – No to alcohol and drugs. Consider this escalation:

    No, thank you.

    No, thanks, I don’t want to.

    You know, I’m (cutting back/not drinking) now (to get healthier/to take care of myself/because my doctor said to). I’d really appreciate it if you’d help me out.

Try the “broken record” strategy. Every time a person makes a statement, you can simply repeat the same short, clear response. You might want to acknowledge some part of the person’s points and then go back to your broken-record reply (“…but no thanks”). If in the end, words fail walk away.

No to alcohol and drugs  – Practice your “no”

Some people are surprised at how hard it can be to say  NO to drinking and drugging, especially in the beginning. Build confidence by scripting and practicing your NO. Here’s a guide to getting the ‘NO’ down:

  • Imagine the situation and the person who’s offering the drink. Write both what the person will say and how you’ll respond, (mentioned above) and your own unique approach.
  • Rehearse aloud and get comfortable with your phrasing and delivery.
  • Consider asking a supportive person to role-play with, someone who would offer realistic pressure to drink and honest feedback about your response.
  • Always remember that you will learn as you go, keep at it.

Some other strategies to use when you feel the pressure at a party include:

  • Have non-alcoholic drinks always in hand
  • Ask for support from others to cope with temptation
  • Plan an escape if the temptation gets too great
  • Ask others to refrain from pressuring you or drinking in your presence

A final note: If you have successfully said No to alcohol and drugs and refused drink offers before think about how it made you feel and use that as strength in times of need. It is your choice at the end of the day. How you think about any decision directly affects the success of said decision. Some people think, “I am not allowed to drink,” as if an external authority were imposing rules on them.  It’s important to challenge this kind of thinking by telling yourself that you are in charge, that you know how you want your life to be and that you have decided to make a change and live a sober life. Also you may worry about how others will react or view you if you make a change. Again, challenge these thoughts by remembering that it’s your life and your choice, and that your decision should be respected.


For more information on dealing with drugs or alcohol abuse and getting yourself support with your new life, call Houghton House now:

office hours:  011 787 9142

24/7 emergency help line: 079 770 7532

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