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Not Drinking Tonight? How to Overcome Social Pressure

I don’t think there is a person on this planet that doesn’t know that alcohol is not particularly good for your health. Not only does alcohol contain a lot of sugar, it also makes your body store fat, stresses your liver out so it can’t metabolize properly, and it will make you look old and wrinkly..

Drinking alcohol often also comes with immediate consequences. Apart from the physical well-known side effects of drinking a little bit more than a few glasses it can also give you a broken night sleep and a terrible hangover the next morning.
But most importantly, research indicates that women who drink alcohol appear to have a greater incidence of endometriosis!

Furthermore, there seems to be some lingering social expectation about drinking alcohol. Drinking and alcohol form the center of our celebrations, our commiserations, our events. It is how we meet new people; it is the way we catch up with old friends. It is a part of our sporting culture, holidays, music events, work events. It is everywhere. But sadly, it is all too often the only acceptable form of entertainment.

Then there is peer pressure, which can lead people to do things they wouldn’t usually, or stop them from doing something they would like to do. It’s normal to want to feel liked and have a sense of belonging and acceptance from your friends or the people you are hanging out with.

Fortunately, most of us know how to have fun without alcohol as well. A recent study looked at college students’ expectations about alcohol and how those expectations influenced how much the students drank. Part of the experiment involved giving some students alcoholic drinks and others non-alcoholic drinks. Neither group knew which type they received. In the end, students had a hard time identifying whether they were drinking alcohol or not. And guess what? Those who consumed non-alcoholic drinks had just as much fun as the ones who consumed alcohol!

In case you are a non-drinker like me, here are some tips that may help you turn down a drink when you are feeling the social pressure at a party:

Decline gracefully. Sometimes a polite word will do the trick, and there’s no need to go into detail about why you are refusing the drink.

Carry a decoy. As what you are avoiding is alcohol, ask instead for soda, juice, lemonade, coffee, tea, non-alcoholic sparkling cider, or water.. Whether or not you drink it, having a drink can stop people from offering another. Btw, many drinks can be ordered as a ‘virgin’ (without alcohol).

Keep busy. Make conversation, enjoy the meal or appetizers, take photos with (or of) other guests, or have a go at dancing. Any of these activities will give you, your hosts, and your friends something to do besides try to give you drinks.

Offer to be the designated driver. The pressure of having to drink should be dropped there and then.

Remember that it’s not you; it’s them. If somebody is pushing alcohol on you after you have declined, then they are the ones not being polite. You do not owe them any further explanation, especially if you’ve already mentioned a reason or excuse. Don’t let anyone pressure you into having a drink, and don’t allow them to put you in a position in which you have to ‘make a case’ for why you’re not drinking.

Enjoy the party!

Ref: Perper MM, Breitkopf LJ, Breitstein R, Cody RP, Manowitz P. MAST scores, alcohol consumption, and gynecological symptoms in endometriosis patients. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1993;17:272-278.

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