Preventing Alcohol Relapses at Parties

by David J. Hanson, Ph. D.

For Guests Who Don’t Drink

Tell your spouse or friend before you go to a party or gathering that you may feel tempted by being around alcohol and that you need to be able to leave the party on a moments notice without having to explain why. You can always have an alternative place to go.

When you arrive at the gathering tell your host that you can probably only stay for a short time but that you will know more in a while after you make a telephone call. Then you are not obliged to stay and what usually happens is that you have a great time because there’s no pressure to stay.

If someone offers a drink, say "What a good idea I would love a drink! Do you have a soda-water with lemon or a coca-cola? This allows you to say yes and get what you want as well. Very few people will press anything alcoholic on you but when they do simply say "Not right now thank you but a coke would really hit the spot." 1

Remember that

Saying "no" gets easier the more you do it. Practice refusing drinks politely. Or say something clever.

"I don't need any more hair on my chest."

"I'm performing neurosurgery in the morning."

"It sloshes too much when I jog."

or just “No thank you.” 2

For Guests Who Do Drink

Never push drinks on anyone who declines your offer. Choosing to abstain and choosing to drink in moderation are both equally acceptable options for adults.

Don’t assume that everyone should be drinking alcohol and that there’s something wrong with those who choose not to drink.

Never ask why someone isn’t drinking; that assumes that they should be drinking. Why they aren’t drinking isn’t our business.

For Hosts

There's no reason to be self-conscious about entertainment plans that include a guest who chooses not to drink for any reason. The Caron Foundation offers these "recovery etiquette" tips for thoughtful hosts.

Party on... in moderation.

Nothing on this page constitutes medical or counseling opinion or advice.

References and Readings

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