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5 Great Ways to Respond to “Why Aren’t You Drinking?”

For newly sober individuals, one of the hardest things to do is to explain to others why they are no longer drinking. Maintaining your sobriety comes with challenges. When it feels as though your sobriety is constantly being questioned, it adds pressure. 

Your sobriety and your journey are your own. You do not have to explain why you have chosen to become sober, although some might feel obligated to tell close friends and family. It’s important to remember that it is no one else’s business why you are not drinking! You may even encounter people who think they have the right to know, but they don’t. You have complete control over whether you choose to tell people and what people you choose to tell.

Chances are that someone, at some point, will ask why you are not drinking. Although you have the right to not disclose any information, we’ve come up with a few ways to respond.

  1. “I’m a recovering alcoholic.” You may be surprised by how understanding and supportive people are when you just tell them the truth. They don’t need to know all the details but letting them know that you struggle with alcohol addiction is not anything to be ashamed about. As hard as this journey is, you chose to put your sobriety first and you are awesome for that. If you are comfortable sharing your story, then go ahead. Most times when people hear the truth (whatever that truth may be), they accept it and move on. 
  2. I don’t like the person I am when I’m drinking.” This is a great response because it’s probably true. The truth is that some relationships are just not meant to be. Many people realize how toxic their relationship with alcohol was during their recovery. When someone drinks excessively they can experience different reactions. Sometimes alcohol can make a person angry or emotional. They wake up from benders reliving their actions. People have lost their jobs, relationships, and even their freedom because of the choices they made while under the influence of alcohol. For those that know you, this is a response that they are sure to understand. Most people can relate to this response and usually respond with “good for you” and move on with their night.
  3. “I’m driving.” This response usually gets no backlash from anyone. Being a designated driver (DD) is a huge responsibility and one that everyone can appreciate and respect. There will be plenty of times throughout your sobriety where you do not want to tell someone that you are a recovering alcoholic. This is understandable. In those cases, saying “no” backed up with “I’m the DD tonight” should be sufficient to put the issue to rest. 
  4. “Alcohol doesn’t mix well with my medications.” Few people will challenge this response. Most medications strictly prohibit being mixed with alcohol as it can cause a counter-reaction or side effects that can be harmful. Another great thing about this response is that it does not put you in an uncomfortable situation. The majority of people are not going to ask you what medications you are taking, as we all know that most medications, including basic antibiotics, are not recommended to be taken with alcohol. People hear this response and usually accept it and carry on with their day.
  5. “I’m gonna pass on another hangover.” When you give this response, chances are you might get some backlash. Depending on the group you are with, you might get responses such as “this drink doesn’t cause hangovers” or “come one, a few drinks won’t hurt you”. You know that a few drinks are exactly what you do not need. You do not owe anyone an in-depth response. If they can’t accept this response, that says something about them. You are choosing to wake up healthy and capable of taking on another day. For anyone who has experienced a hangover, they should understand and respect your choice to stay sober. 

Whatever you decide to say, say it with confidence. Don’t apologize that you are choosing to not drink. One of the most impactful things that you will learn in your sobriety is that most people won’t push a topic if you feel confident in your reasoning. 

Always remember that recovery is a journey and finding methods to maneuver through the process takes some trial and error. You are not meant to have it all figured out yet, so give yourself grace. If you are looking for guidance throughout your recovery, RECO Intensive wants to be there to remind you that this is not the end– it is the beginning and there is hope for you.


Attempting to maneuver through your sobriety can feel overwhelming. Once you are ready to be around other people where alcohol is present, you may be faced with a new obstacle. If you are someone that most people associated with drinking, chances are if you show up to an event without a drink in hand, people might question you. Remember, you do not owe anyone an explanation. Simply saying “I don’t want to drink” or “I’m not drinking” should be sufficient when someone offers you alcohol. You don’t have to explain your choices, but if you choose to do so, we have a few responses that seem to work. As always, everyone’s situation is unique, and figuring out what responses you are comfortable using will be personal. We want to be here to remind you that your sobriety matters. If you need assistance, RECO Intensive offers hope to those who are seeking alcoholism treatment. Call us at (561) 464-6533 today.

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