How Do You Deal When You’re The Only One Not Drinking?

Yes, I know that title probably sounds like the section of a pamphlet you receive during your first week of college, probably followed up by a section on “Why Being A Drunk Female Alone At Night Will Kill You (And How!)” or examples of what “one drink” constitutes in unrealistically tiny containers. But it’s unfortunately something I’ve been thinking quite a bit about lately, as I haven’t been drunk in over a month. Intentionally.

For most people, this isn’t a huge deal. But for me, this is both depressing and out of character. The majority of my friends — and probably a lot of strangers, to be honest — know me as quite the lush. I’ve had a nightcap or seven nearly every evening for the past few years, whether I was partying or out on a date or studying for finals at the library. As long as I didn’t have any driving to do, I was most likely drunk by 8 or 9pm. I had a job, did well in school, had several hobbies and downed about 1.75L of vodka per week.

In all seriousness, I'm 95% sure both of those were mine and this was a Tuesday morning.

But, long story short, that’s just not feasible health-wise, work-wise or financially for me anymore, which has resulted in stepping on the booze brakes for the time being. I am also not always a “fun drunk,” so this is likely for the best.

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    • Isana Leshchinskaya

      tell people you’ve been exposed to tuberculosis and need to take a six-month course of antibiotics. equal parts romantic and final, to both shut people up and see their eyes glaze over with imagined scenes from verdi and puccini operas.

      • Samantha Escobar

        Is amazing.

    • Michael McGettigan

      I’m allergic to alcohol…
      I break out in handcuffs.

    • 5 years sober and SOOO happy

      just be honest. it is brave and will show you who really cares about YOU, and who only wants a drinking buddy.

    • rathernotsay

      I currently don’t go to any bars or drink at all, for legal reasons. And it was teh center of my social life, too. It is weird, and people don’t really know how to react when suddenly you don’t have a beer or 8 while watching football, or at a restaurant, or after cleaning the bathroom, esp when you are the only one. I usually tell people the truth, and if they don’t like it that really isn’t my problem. Good for you, btw. It is much healthier, and I smoke less too, and have fewer stomach problems. And seriously, drinking that much will kill you, eventually.

    • Annie Will

      Maybe you should try AA.

      • Samantha Escobar

        I’ve tried AA and, though sometimes it’s kind of nice and there’s usually Starbucks at the awesome meetings I used to go to while still in California, I never felt really comfortable talking and I would leave usually wanting to drink.

    • Kiwi

      I stopped drinking years ago, and I do understand where you are at. I found it very interesting that people wanted to know why I wasn’t drinking … I got a lot of “are you pregnant?” questions. Alcohol is ingrained in our social culture. I get that, I just wasn’t prepared to have to explain my actions. And I didn’t want to. I never totally let on my reasons why (only to my close family and my boyfriend) as I decided it was nobody’s business. The good news is, they do stop asking eventually. I don’t feel you need to make up lies about why you aren’t drinking – it only devalues what you are doing. If it’s someone you don’t know – just blink and stare, they’ll get the point. If it’s someone you care about – give them a little more if you want to. There are more low (or no) alcohol alternatives out there than ever – and honestly – after your friends have a few drinks in them, they really don’t notice that you aren’t drinking. I found the next dillema was being extremely bored when I was sober, and all my friends were drunk.

    • AmyM

      Congratulations on recognizing the drawbacks and creating a new set of limits for yourself before things really got out of hand. As far as having to explain it to others, you don’t. I’ve been a non-drinker for many years and eventually got really tired of hearing “OMG why don’t you drink?” I started responding to their question with my own, which was “Why DO you drink?” It shuts it down pretty quick, and eventually people come to know you as the non-drinker. Eventually you’ll get to the point where being around drunks is boring and annoying, but you’ll cross that bridge in time. For now, concentrate on yourself, your reasons and enjoy feeling (and looking) better. Alcohol and smoking will age you faster than anything.

    • lucygoosey74

      I’ve been sober for 4 years now, and for me, nothing was easy. When I quit, it was pretty much a do or die situation. I had spent a month in a mental hospital followed by a year of outpatient treatment 4 days a week and NA meetings several times weekly.
      I didn’t have to deal with people asking me why I wasn’t drinking because I had to cut out everyone, every place, and everything that could potentially contribute to me relapsing. I realize that this is the extreme way of doing things, but it was the only way that worked for me. I was incapable of “just saying no” on willpower alone. I can say today that it was the hardest yet best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.
      All that being said, when I was drinking I simply could not fathom why others around me weren’t, or weren’t drinking to the extent that I was…I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t want to be drunk at 8 in the morning, or stay till bar close, or do it every single day. It did not compute. When I got sober, I felt compelled to tell people “I’m a recovering alcoholic” when they asked why I didn’t drink. Now I just say “I don’t drink.”. I am not obligated to defend my choices to anyone, and neither are you.

      • Samantha_Escobar

        I’m so happy for you that you’re sober and healthy now, congratulations! It sounds as though it was extremely intense for you, so I’m really glad that you were able to stop.

        I’ve had a lot of “this is the last time I can drink on a regular basis!” incidents and I don’t want to keep doing them, so I very much wanna try and calm down for a while and see how I feel. Thank you so much for your advice.

    • Nicole Penguin

      This article sounds like I could have written it myself. I’ll actually be one year sober in November and I still don’t know what to say to people. It’s hard when you’ve let it become such a part of your identity; without it, your entire life ends up changing. I’ve found that most people who question it aren’t really your friends anyway. Ive fallen out of touch with 90% of the people I considered friends, but I am completely ok with it. Anyone who cares about you won’t expect you to defend your choice, and oftentimes don’t care enough to ask in the first place because they enjoy your company, not just the glass in your hand. So just be honest and if that isn’t enough, move on.

      • Samantha_Escobar

        Hey, congratulations on being sober for so long! Seriously, that’s amazing. And thank you for the words and advice, I really appreciate them, especially from somebody who knows what I’m saying.