How to Say ‘No Thanks’ When Out with Friends

How to Say ‘No Thanks’ When Out with Friends

Going out with friends and socializing in recovery can bring up all kinds of triggers. A common situation may include a barbecue, gathering, or event where there is alcohol being served. By accepting the invitation, there is a chance someone may offer a drink and a response will be needed to that invitation. For people who are in recovery, it is helpful to know how to turn down any offer to drink or use drugs in a social setting. Whether or not the others know about the journey of recovery, it is helpful to know how to turn down the invitation and still have fun with friends.

Just Say It

An expression of ‘no, thank you’ seems to be the hardest phrase in the vocabulary of a person in recovery. With practice, it gets easier, but sometimes there is added pressure to conform in a work setting or added pressure at a gathering of new friends to meet people or dispel some anxiety around the event. The easiest way to relieve the anxiety and stress of being in a setting where alcohol is served is ‘no, thank you,’ and walk away. Practicing this in a pretend setting ahead of time or practicing in the mind what to say can be helpful.

Bring a Friend

One of the tenets of socializing in recovery is to never go alone. Whether it is a family member, friend, sober mentor or companion, the world is a rocky place to live for those in recovery. Triggers can pop out of nowhere or may be hidden in plain sight. Have a ‘wingperson’ that is trusted to watch what is going on and provide help in keeping the person sober. They may also call for backup if necessary to make sure others can come help if needed.

Mingle Sober

To avoid the conflict of wondering what to say when alcohol is offered, it may be best to attend sober gatherings. Seek out spaces where only non-alcoholic beverages are served which will take the onus of the person to worry about what to say the rest of the event. Sometimes there is a larger crowd of people who are sober at an event, which can be helpful. The other idea is to just stick to sober crowds and gatherings. Don’t attend events where alcohol is served if it will be too strong of a trigger (especially early in recovery).

Get Out

Indoor events make it hard to break away for any type of fun without alcohol around. To avoid some of these issues, it can be helpful to head outside. Look for opportunities to go hiking, walking, biking, or other things outdoors that won’t just be chances to drink or use drugs. Bring other sober friends or go alone, but seek chances to try things that will be fun and challenging without wondering where the next offer to drink will come from.

Recovery is more important than any event. If a person feels their sobriety or recovery is at stake, it is best to avoid going to the gathering altogether. The key is to think more clearly about what is helpful now, in this moment, to stay sober. This may be a time of upheaval in a person’s life and they are more susceptible. When a person feels more grounded and secure in recovery, triggers do not affect them as much so it may be easier. The key is to know yourself and focus on what is known to work. If all else fails, avoid the gathering altogether and go to a movie with friends, instead. People don’t have to sacrifice fun for their sobriety or their friendships.

The Palmetto Center is based on a Therapeutic Community model. We help people learn how to live free of addiction. We understand the challenges of going out into the world in recovery and staying clean. We help build your recovery muscles with our programs and services designed to help the whole mind, body, and spirit recover. Our program provides special focus for professionals including chiropractors, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and more who need help with addiction recovery. Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.