Will They Mind That I Don’t Drink?

If you’re not drinking (for whatever reason), and you’re getting pushback from people around you, just know it’s normal and expect it. We’re all navigating the alcohol culture. It’s the over-the-counter drug, no prescription needed, properly labeled and packaged and legal. It’s packaged and sold in a civilized way, for the most part. There’s no stereotype of a person who drinks without much consequence as there is for, say, a recreational LSD user.

Dad drinks, coworkers drink. Neighbors. Strangers at the next table. Grandma. Those crazy kids. It’s a running joke in our culture. All those zany antics. And, ahhh, the relief of a lovely cocktail at the end of a work day, or the idea of besties getting tipsy (or hammered) and laughing the night away. It’s in all the movies and shows and memes. It’s on freaking T-shirts. We love our alcohol. We’re quite attached to it in our society. Addicted to the idea of an escape, an effing break.

So for me, when I really was quite clear that alcohol was bringing me down, I started hinting around about quitting drinking.

It wasn’t a popular idea. Most of my family and friends quite enjoyed alcohol. Some of them drank socially, some of them drank like it’s an Olympic sport. None of them fancied the idea of me getting sober. They said why should I have to, just drink less, don’t be such an overthinker, blah blah. But why would they be so invested really, on my behalf? If I gave up eating seafood I don’t think we’d have these long debates about it.

I know now that my wonderful people are also hooked by the drinking culture (for better or worse), and they might not want to look at their relationship with alcohol.

My advice, for what it’s worth, is just claim it and be really matter-of-fact. The tone is like asking someone to pass the salt. So if someone asks if you want a drink, just say sure, I’ll have a seltzer. If pressed on whether you drink, or why not, just say something like, I feel better without it. As you might explain giving up dairy or sugar or caffeine.

Normalize not drinking, and soon it won’t be so uncomfortable.

Have a great weekend, sober family!

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