I don't have a "good reason" for not drinking.
I'm not religious, I don't have medical issues, a few family members are alcoholics but most of them don't abuse alcohol, I'm not conscious about what I put in my body either (I love fast food and sugary sweets)- I'm just simply not interested in drinking and it's been difficult for me to convey this to others.

Sometimes when I hang out with friends, family, coworkers or others- they will ask me if I want a drink or they will notice that I have not been drinking and inquire about it.

My go-to responses have been "No thanks- I'm good.", "A water would be great!" or "I don't drink."

But I don't really like these responses because it often leads to follow-up questions like "Why don't you drink?" and my go-to answers are "I'm not interested" or "I don't like the taste" and it usually challenges people to find a drink that I would enjoy or to convince me to have a drink.

A few times I have been awkwardly given a drink without the person asking me if I wanted it. It was hard for me to tell them that I didn't want it so I just held it and didn't drink it or gave it to someone else when they weren't looking. Once I took a sip to try to be polite and said that I didn't like the taste of it but it was awkward.

I also want to convey that I do not mind being around others drinking alcohol. Sometimes I feel like my sober presence makes others uncomfortable because maybe they think I'm judging them or that I'm just uncomfortable being around alcohol- those are just my guesses. I like to focus on the main activities to participate- playing game(s), chit-chat, dancing, eating, etc. in hopes of convincing people that I am having a good time but I'm not sure if it's effective.

Is there a way for me to simply inform others that I don't drink alcohol without getting interrogated or making any kind of disruption when I'm asked about my sobriety?

I am a 24 year old living in America. Often this situation happens at happy hours, parties, hanging out with friends and large family gatherings/dinners.

  • 1
    Is disclosing that you don't drink necessary? Would you be open to getting a virgin drink and "pretending" your drinking?
    – cheshire
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 22:23
  • 1
    @cheshire I think that could work in some situations! Though a lot of the time it's like: I arrive, host offers drink, I eagerly request water- and half of the time it may lead to the "interrogation"
    – aaa
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 23:29
  • 1
    Do you drink sodas or juices, or specifically only water?
    – Erik
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 8:07
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    @Erik Personally I prefer water but I'm okay with soda or juice every once in a while
    – aaa
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 13:29
  • Do you not drink for religious reasons or dietary restrictions? If so, a simple, "I can't drink for [insert reason here]" will placate most people. I don't drink myself, and that works 95% percent of the time Commented May 11, 2018 at 14:57

6 Answers 6


Given my own experiences with exactly this, there's really not a perfect solution that will get people to let it go. The culture for our age groups in this country is such that we're all expected to want to get wasted whenever we can.

I'm 25 and have never enjoyed alcohol. Sure, I can do a wine cooler once in a while, but no one around here considers that drinking by any stretch. My own brother, who lives with me and understands I'm not inclined to drink, pushes it any time we go out.

The best you can do is to reinforce your point of view.

Oh, no thanks, I don't drink.

Say this even when they're offering/handing you a drink without asking you. Don't just accept it and pass it off, that can cause hurt feelings if they notice it. Just say it upfront and don't accept the drink. If they "insist", you insist that you don't want it and don't drink.

One of my gotos is

Well, someone here has to be sober!

It not only points out a very important truth, someone needs to be able to safely get people home or be completely with it should an emergency arise, but it also adds a little bit of humor to help keep the situation from getting awkward.

If you don't want to add humor, just repeat that you don't drink and you don't like to drink. If your friends insist on pushing you on something you are firmly not wanting to do, and it is truly upsetting you, call them out on it:

What's more important to you right now: me drinking despite not liking it, or all of us having a good time in our own ways?

If their answer is it's more important to them that you drink... Well, you may want to re-think your choice of friends. More likely, though, it will really point out that you're not happy with their constant insistence that you drink and they'll back off, maybe even apologize.

  • 2
    when I was younger, I used that "well, someone has to be sober!" line a lot! Usually gets a laugh and shows people you aren't uptight too.
    – ggiaquin16
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 16:04

I've definitely encountered this; I currently rarely drink, and I have many friends who never do. The strongest peer pressure to drink was in college & my early 20s, especially when getting to know new coworkers, new classmates, etc. Thorsten S. and Kendra already address some good ways to deal with direct confrontation or pressure, though your current strategy of focusing on the main activity is a great one.

This answer addresses one of the "mellower" forms of this phenomenon, that seems to come from misplaced hospitality. There are some cultural norms that "water doesn't count." (E.g., in the U.S. it is "bad luck" to drink a toast with water.) Sometimes asking for water can be perceived as accepting only the bare minimum of hospitality; this could be viewed as an insult, or as a sign that you don't feel welcome yet, or a challenge to some hosts.

You could really embrace the idea of water, to show it "counts" as hospitality.

Thank you, I'm so thirsty right now! Could you actually get me some water, please?

I'll let you know if I need anything else later, but for right now I would love some water, please!

  • If they offer sparkling water, ice, lemon, or anything like that, they're getting to show their hospitality, so accept it gratefully if the fancy option works for you.

You could ask for any other food or drink (besides alcohol and water); this could satisfy their need to serve you and also make you seem all set.

  • This can be awkward if the host doesn't have anything to offer EXCEPT alcohol; asking for something they don't have may be embarrassing, which makes them want to get you to accept the alcohol.

    • If you suspect this will be the case, you can bring a non-alcoholic drink to share, e.g. a bottle of sparkling cider (if it's more of a wine situation) or soda (if there's beer) or "mixers" like Coca-Cola, orange juice, pomegranate juice, ginger ale, or birch beer (if there's hard liquor).
  • In many situations at people's houses, after the initial drink, you can serve yourself.

    • This is harder if they put wine bottles on the table at dinner, say.
    • If they offer you something "while they're up," you can say, "Thanks, I'll grab myself something in a minute." You can wander to the drink area and come back with tap water or just some of a "mixer," or some food (if they have no other non-alcoholic options).
  • If you drink caffeine, it is often seen as "logical" that it is the opposite of alcohol, and that you might want a stimulant instead of a depressant. (Alcohol makes many people feel sleepy.) So you could say, "Actually, I'm feeling more like a cup of tea/coffee right now."

    • If necessary, you can have a tea bag in your bag/wallet, and just ask for hot water.



I don't drink, but I used to drink. When I first made the choice to stop drinking, a lot of people were fairly shocked because my friends could always count on me joining them to go Karaoke at the bar, or doing some crazy shot at a house party. They asked why and I explained I just didn't find drinking amusing anymore and I would rather spend the 60 dollars a weekend on something better. They were all okay with it and didn't harass me much about it afterward (unless to tease me in a joking way).

When I go to parties or the bar now with friends and someone who is not part of the usual group asks why I don't have a beer, I just simply say I don't feel like drinking. I may also say I have work in the morning especially if it's going to a bar midweek.

I have not really encountered anyone following it up with why lately but on the off chance I do, I usually just tell them I am on a diet for CrossFit (which is not a lie either), or state that you are making sure your friends get home safely today and is the DD (again not usually a lie for me as I am/was frequently the DD especially before uber).

Both of those are great because it can lead the topic going in another direction. Most of the time when someone walks up to ask you why you aren't drinking, they are looking to start a conversation with you and since you not having a beer in your hand is the easiest way to walk up and ask why it gives them a foot in the door to talk to you. This allows you to then shift it to some lifestyle stuff (especially if it's someone you think is cute and may want to talk to as well). "Oh really, you are doing CrossFit? That's so cool I hear it is hard!" and then you have the chance to then carry on a conversation about something you are more interested in. If you say you have to work, obviously it's an easy tie in to "Oh cool, what do you do for work?".

EDIT: You can also say something like, "I do enough stupid things sober!" Gets a good laugh and also still leads to a different path for conversation! I use that line fairly frequently and forgot until I read another answer that reminded me!


Point being, most of the time people ask it is because they find you interesting enough to approach and are looking for a way to get a conversation started. Since it is considered normal that people mostly go to parties to drink, it's an easy icebreaker to ask you why you don't have one. From there you can turn your response into something that can continue a conversation on into a topic you more enjoy!


As a disclaimer, I do drink, but I've experienced a similar situation with smoking. From what I've experienced, I think you should still open with:

No thanks, I don't drink.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don't understand why someone might not drink. What's worse, a lot of people think you should drink. Not that it's important or anything, they just don't understand you might simply not like it. That invites a difficult mindset to deal with. Like you said, it usually challenges people to find a drink that I would enjoy or to convince me to have a drink.

My best advice to you is not to invite that challenge; don't give them anything to push against.

If you say "I don't like the taste", someone will hear "If you get me a drink that tastes good, I'll drink it." The same goes for just about any excuse, so simply don't offer any. Reiterate that you just don't like drinking.

You: No thanks, I don't drink.

Friend: Why not?

You: It's just never been my thing.

Again, you aren't offering them any opportunities to convince you otherwise. You're plainly telling them the fact that you just don't like it. Unfortunately, again, some people don't really understand this reason; they might not believe you, and they may try to squeeze some "hidden reason" out of you. Don't play along.

If I were you, I wouldn't even acknowledge the reasons they bring up. Like you said, it's a challenge to them now. The moment you disagree with them they think they have an opportunity to change your mind.

Friend: You just haven't had the right drink then.

You: I don't know what to tell you, I just don't like drinking.

If they keep pushing it, be firm and keep repeating yourself. Don't come up with an excuse at any point, and don't cave and take a drink with no intention of drinking it. If you accept it, now that person thinks you drink under the right circumstances. Next time they'll try to replicate those circumstances; don't convince them that'll work.

Alternatively, you could respond to their inquiry with some humor. This is a personal opinion, but I've found the type of people who try to force a drink on someone are also the type of people who respond best to self-deprecating humor. For example:

You: No thanks, I don't drink

Friend: Why not?

You: I've got waaay too many vices already / I'm already enough of a mess sober / [insert humor here]

It's up to you if your friends/acquaintances will respond better to humor. Some people will laugh and drop it, but some people will keep pushing. For example, "I've got enough vices already", "Well then one more won't hurt!". In that case, I'd keep it light, but maintain that you don't want a drink, "I dunno, I think I'd better not risk it."

You may need to explore a little to work out which lines work best and which environments call for which solutions.


Same problem here.

If possible, I get a class with Coke (whatever you personally like) as fast as possible and say truthfully that I already have sth to drink.

If you don't have qualms to lie because you want to be interrogated, religious or health reasons should do the trick without further questions because it would be considered impolite.

If you consider religious reasons, Muslims and some Christian groups like Mormons or Seven Day Adventists do not drink alcohol, so if you can find similarities with your personal belief, pretend to be one of them if (which should really never happen) there is a situation when it is advisable to tell the affiliation (e.g. if some honk is claiming that there are no such religions).

Medical reasons are also very good: antibiotica, opioids (cough medicine!) and medicine against hay fever prohibit alcohol consumption. Get some placebo pills (sugar pills) and put them into a medical looking container to show them as excuse if people are skeptical.


Well, the people you are with are trying to be nice and include you in the group (group of friends, group of colleagues, group of alcohol drinking people). Just declining their offer has a negative tint to it - they are trying to be nice but you won't let them be nice.

Your best option is to give your decline a positive tint by offering a different way to be nice than giving you an alcoholic drink.

Hey, do you want a drink?

Thanks, but I don't feel like having a beer. A water would be nice, though.


Man, you haven't touched a beer all evening

I like the taste of <your current drink> better and I want to have fun with you without being hungover tomorrow

Next options are little lies (or maybe not lies, depends on you) that no one can argue with. Again, target for a positive outcome instead of a neutral decline.

I always get grumpy / sleepy when I drink. The party is so much fun, I don't want to dampen the mood.

Alcohol gives me heartburn. I'd rather enjoy the evening with you.

To avoid a question like that in advance, you could have a drink that looks like it's alcoholic.

It's quite common to mix a Coce or some energy drink with varous types of alcohol, so having a non-alcoholic versions of them is less noticable. Many locations also offer non-alcoholic coctails, if you like the taste of them.

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