Plan ahead to stay in control
Even if you are committed refrain from drinking, “social pressure” to drink from friends can make it hard to avoid drinking. Sometimes you might feel direct pressure from a friend because they offer you a drink. Other times, you might just feel pressured because others around you are drinking and acting like it’s cool or fun.
Avoid pressure when possible
For some situations, your best strategy may be avoiding them altogether. Especially if the word is that it’s going to be a big blow out. You can also try staying connected with friends by suggesting other activities that don’t involve drinking. But, look, no one wants to miss out on ALL the fun. That’s when learning how to say “no” is a good skill to have. When you have confidence in your resistance skills, you can hang out with friend in all kinds of situations and still have fun.
Know your “no”
When you know alcohol will be served, it’s important to have some resistance strategies lined up in advance. If you expect to be offered a drink, you’ll need to be ready to deliver a convincing “no thanks.” Your goal is to be clear and firm, yet friendly and respectful. Avoid long explanations and vague excuses, as they tend to prolong the discussion and provide more of an opportunity to give in. Here are some other points to keep in mind:
- Don’t hesitate, as that will give you the chance to think of reasons to go along
- Look directly at the person and make eye contact
- Keep your response short, clear, and simple
Consider a sequence like this:
- No, thank you.
- No, thanks, I don’t want to.
- You know, I really don’t think it’s a good idea. I’d really appreciate it if you’d stop asking me.
You can also try the “broken record” strategy. Each time the person makes a statement, you can simply repeat the same short, clear response. You might want to acknowledge some part of the person’s points (“I hear you…”) and then go back to your broken-record reply (“…but no thanks”). And if words fail, you can walk away.
Script and practice your “no”
Many people are surprised at how hard it can be to say no the first few times. You can build confidence by going over in your mind what you want to say and sometimes you can even envision to whom. If you have a friend or parent that can help go over your script, that’s even better.
In addition to being prepared with your “no thanks,” consider these strategies:
- Have a soda or sports drink always in hand
- Plan an escape if things get out of hand
- Ask others to stop pressuring you or drinking in your presence (this can be hard)
These tips have been modified for a teens perspective, from the article “Building Your Drink Refusal Skills” at ReThink Drinking by the NIAAA.