The teetotaller's survival guide to sobriety in a world of alcohol. Find out how to stay sober during social gatherings and work events.
Recommended Drink Limit Per Day By Gender
2 cans or 660 ml
1 can or 330 ml
1 glass or 200 ml
1/2 glass or 100 ml
2 nips or 60 ml
1 nip or 30 ml
You would think that it’s easy to simply say no to a glass of alcohol these days, but as a well-accepted social lubricant, alcohol is commonplace, and turning down offers to drink from your colleague, boss or new acquaintance can prove to be tricky.
Save yourself from being labelled the party pooper with good preparation, tips and a few witty comebacks up your sleeve. From attending a wedding as a groomsman to that after-work business dinner with a client (even one who owns an alcohol company), you can build up your drink refusal skills to survive any situation in the wild.
The stakes are low at a mass social gathering where you are unlikely to know anyone other than the host. Try being brutally honest with a few inventive and humorous white lies. Say that you are allergic to alcohol, have just taken cough syrup, are on a course of antibiotics or that you are tonight’s designated driver. If pressed for further details, simply change the topic or raise your glass of delicious non-alcoholic beverage with a good-natured ‘cheers’. Stick to this strategy for a few hours, and soon everyone will be too drunk or tipsy to notice.
Related: Alcohol and Health — Setting Your Drink Limits
With drinkers seated to your left and right, as well as the pressure to wish the couple well by toasting them numerous times throughout the night, the chances of falling prey to temptation can be high. Dodge the bullet by picking a fancy mocktail to sip throughout the night. It looks like you are drinking something alcoholic, but you are not. Go for the non-alcoholic options such as tea, ask to fill a wine glass with iced water to blend in a little more.
Related: Why is Binge Drinking Bad for You?
If your boss or colleagues are drinkers, joining them for dinner after work would most likely mean opening a bottle and having a glass to drink. After all, it’s all about the team spirit, isn’t it? This situation could potentially prove to be your undoing, especially if a fellow non-drinking colleague succumbs to the pressure and leaves you stranded. Except, you are savvier than most. Gently remind your boss of your 8 am meeting with a VIP client or the important presentation that you have to make and trump the lot with your admirable, hardworking ethic instead.
Related: Ditch Both that Cigarette and Drink!
You are about to seal the deal in the morning with the paperwork, but your client insists on going out for drinks before he signs on the dotted line. How do you politely decline with so much at stake and without faking an illness or allergy? Practise your “no” script beforehand and execute it with wit and tact. Being firm yet polite is an attractive trait that clients recognise and will respect – it shows that you are no easy pushover even in high-stress situations.
Related: To Drink or Not to Drink?
It is unfortunate for a teetotaller to find himself or herself at one of these events where alcohol is not just present but at the very centre of attraction. Whatever your reason for being there, stick to your guns and you’ll be able to master the occasion like a vegetarian at a barbeque. Try not to be a sour puss at the sidelines and be enthusiastic with other people’s appreciation of their drinks. The most important thing is to show that you can have fun and be the life of the party, with or without alcohol.
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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