Some Tips On Surviving Social Gatherings Without Drinking

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Happy St. Patty's Day! Ok, I'm going to be 100 with you. I'm not sure what this day is about aside from boozing it up? If you're like me, and don't drink on the reg or are taking a break, it seems like going out and not drinking can be socially alienating. Don't get me wrong... I like to enjoy a darn good cocktail or glass of bubbles or a nice glass of red wine, but I'm not always down to drink. In fact, I only have a drink twice a month.

Heavy drinking, unsure of where you were, how you got there, or what happened to your pants? Not a cute look! Plus, not to mention the splitting headache, excruciating nausea, and the hangover. Yaaa, babe, no thanks! Plus, I'm in my 30's now, and hangovers are a REAL thing that takes so much longer to bounce back from.

It's often useful to have excuses to give when you're not drinking. Of course, you should just be able to decline a drink without giving reasons, but sometimes people can be annoying and won't just accept that you don't want one.

Our culture often revolves around drinking, and people who choose not to participate are seen as boring. That's ridiculous but won't change overnight.  You shouldn’t feel bad about not wanting to drink and no one should try to force you into it.

Whether you decide not to drink altogether or you just want to limit it to one drink, here are some ways to avoid peer pressure to drink and what to order at bars:

Have a drink in your hand

Always have a drink in your hand that looks like an alcoholic drink. It may stop people from asking why you’re not drinking alcohol if they think you are. If you're at a bar, order a non-alcoholic drink like soda water with a lime wedge or a mock-tail. As the bartender to pour it in a cocktail glass. People will see the glass and you will just blend into the crowd.

Pick the right friends

The easiest way on how to avoid peer pressure to drink is to pick friends who support you. If you surround yourself with people who understand you don’t want to drink or don’t drink themselves, you will never be put in an uncomfortable situation. They even might stick up for you when others are pressuring you into drinking.

Know when it's time to go home

Create a maximum amount of time that you want to spend at the party, and stick to it. Staying until 2 a.m. may not be the smartest idea because the longer you stay, the more opportunity you have to get bored and start drinking. Set a responsibility timer and follow it!

Try focusing on the conversation instead!

Everyone hates making small talk, but that’s ok because everyone hates it. If you’re a more outgoing person, use this to meet new people and really start to get to know them. If you’re more on the quiet side, stick to the people you already know, and use this opportunity to find out facts you didn’t already know about them.

“Because I don’t want to” is a perfectly fine reason. And, if people can't respect that, then it's time to find a new crowd!

Need some ideas on what to order at a bar aside from soda water?

Arnold Palmer - half lemonade; half iced tea Shirley Temple - ginger ale with grenadine Mocktails - if the cocktail is primarily non-alcoholic mixers and has only one spirit component, you can likely order the mocktail version (Virgin Mary, Virgin Mojito, etc.) Ginger ale with Angostura bitters Tonic water with a squeeze of lime works well, too Kombucha - here in Portland, there are many bars that carry kombucha in a bottle or on tap St Clements sans the gin - made with fresh orange juice and bitter lemon, it’s lovely and refreshing and works well with or without gin Virgin Mojito - really refreshing but just go easy on the sugar Pimm's Style Iceed Tea - iced tea jazzed up with elderflower and garnished Pimm’s-style with fresh cucumber