How to explain your alcohol choices – 8 creative excuses for not drinking

Looking for a list of solid excuses for not drinking alcohol? We’ve got you covered, but you might not need to rely on ‘excuses’ after all… 

So, you’ve started your booze-free period, and things are looking up. You’re over the first few disorienting days and you’re starting to feel the growing benefits for mind, body and soul. That brain-fog, that you hadn’t previously realised was there, is lifting. The guts are stabilising, the sleep is awesome and the skin is glowing. It’s time to take this ‘new you’ out for a spin and do some socialising! 

You hit the gathering, and, despite the fact that these are mostly friends from way back, you’re a little nervous. How is this going to work without the lubricant? Will you get into the swing of it quickly? Come up with the repartee? Dance like a mad thing?

That tricky question

What you weren’t expecting was to be flummoxed by the first question: ‘Why aren’t you drinking?’

This is a really common issue – not knowing what to say when you are in social situations and someone offers you a drink, or asks why you aren’t drinking. For a lot of people it can feel really rude to turn down a drink, like you’re spoiling the fun. Or you feel exposed by saying ‘no’, feeling that you have to justify your decision or engage in a conversation about why you don’t drink.

But consider that we don’t question pregnant women why they’re not drinking – or designated drivers, or people training for a marathon. That’s because they have a good reason not to drink, that we all accept socially. It is good to consider that idea for yourself.

You don’t need excuses for not drinking, you have a really good reason not to drink, too, and you’ve spent some time coming to that decision – so own it. This is a personal choice and one that you’ve made yourself, like what kind of car to drive, or where to go on holidays.  But if you simply want to kill the line of inquiry dead and move on to more interesting topics, you can try a ‘Move on – nothing to see here’ approach:

  • “I’m the designated driver”
  • “I’ve got an early start in the morning”
  • “I’m taking the night off – giving the liver a break!”
  • “Just wanting to see what it’s like!”
  • “I’m doing it for charity – [and, if you really want to get them out of your face] do you want to sponsor me?”

However, some of your friends may deserve a more frank explanation (and, importantly, some of them may actually benefit from your example), so consider some of these responses.

  • “I’m having a break from drinking as I noticed it was affecting my health”
  • “I’m not drinking at the moment as I’m on a health regime”
  • “I’ve found I’m much better without alcohol”

A reflection of their own beliefs about alcohol

Often people will be surprised or disappointed if you turn down a drink as it may reflect on their own drinking – they might feel a bit exposed if you are staying sober. It can be good to show them that you are not passing judgement on their behaviour, and that this is a really personal decision.

At Hello Sunday Morning, we believe that others’ responses can be partly to do with their own ‘baggage’, and this can be uncomfortably brought to the surface by someone who is abstaining.

In other words, the discomfort of the situation might be more with them than with you.

More common than you think

The reality is, that most people at some point in their lives have considered cutting back on alcohol – it is something that tends to affect our health and mood, particularly as we get older. Most people can relate to the idea of cutting back or taking a break from alcohol to focus on their health – this is something that is becoming more and more common, and no longer a tacit admission of a deeper and humiliating problem with drinking.


What kinds of social situations are the most problematic for you – turning down a drink, or being around a lot of alcohol? Let us know in the comments section.

An alcohol free Australia Day

How to enjoy being alcohol-free on big occasions

With big early-year national occasions coming up like Australia Day and the Super Bowl, now’s a good time to check in with your goals and ensure you’re ready to meet them when the pressure to stray will be at its greatest.

If you set New Year’s goals to cut back or stop drinking, you will be about 4-5 weeks in when these events arrive. This is a difficult time. The novelty has started to wear off, work is back in full swing and the remaining 11 months stretching before you suddenly seem more daunting than the 12 (or however many) you signed up for in the first place.

Here are some tips and techniques you can use to not simply survive these events, but to thrive in them, ensuring you have a fantastic time and strengthen your resolve.


Communicate clearly

If someone else is hosting a party and you know them well enough, one of the best things you can do is speak to them in advance about your goals. This can open a wide variety of options for you and you might even offer to co-host, taking the opportunity to work out some fun games to mix in with the other festivities that won’t require alcohol.

Just make sure the host knows you don’t have an issue with others drinking. This is about you and the best thing you can do right now is focus on your own goals. If others drink in a way you find concerning, there are better ways to support them than by enforcing your views on a party.

Communicating in advance also means that if any awkward or pressured situations come up a good host will help save the situation and move you to another. Not to mention that you can bring your own drinks without causing undue stress for the host to facilitate your needs.

Or, if you’re planning far enough in advance …

Try being the host

Although it can be a lot of hard work, this can also be rewarding. The creativity you need to plan a good event that doesn’t rely on alcohol as a centrepiece will be enjoyed both by you and the people drinking alike, so if this is an option for you it’s certainly worth trying.

One idea is to rent a great Airbnb with plenty of relevant options: perhaps prioritise a beach-front during summer or a jacuzzi in Winter and plan activities around the season and setting. This serves to transform the event into a destination and a novel experience, and it opens the floodgates for other creative ideas.

Whatever the setting, putting a lot of effort into a novel or high quality food bar instead of alcohol is a great option because it’s fun for you and it can be unusual entertainment for your guests. Perhaps plan a smorgasbord of cheeses and cured meats, or dust off your 70s Dinner Party cookbook for a frightening arrangement of fondu, 20 different ways of using jelly, cheese-and-bacon bananas, and animals made from potato and celery sticks. It’ll be a topic of conversation at the very least.

Again, remember that unless you can get a group together who are genuinely keen for such an experiment, it’s not a great idea to enforce an alcohol-free environment on everyone else. If you’re tempted, encourage them to bring their own drinks as a middle ground and remind yourself that this is about you!

Make it easy for yourself

To make your evening run smoothly, you’ll want to remove as much friction as possible. The biggest step towards this is to practice your lines! It’s almost a certainty that people will ask about your alcohol choices, and while it can range from sincere curiosity and care to outright indignation and eventual peer pressure, you need to know your messaging well enough that you don’t need to think about it. Don’t be apologetic, this is about you and it’s your time to own your life. Try to explain that you’re just not drinking and move on with the evening.

If you have a friend with similar goals, it’s a great idea to take the “phone a friend” option and hit the party together. If one or both of you feels like it might be a difficult evening, take the time to debrief beforehand and identify triggers and a subtle language to get each other’s attention when necessary. Plan your evening well and the rest will follow.

You might also like to have a backup plan – and, frankly, an excuse to leave and have fun elsewhere if the evening just isn’t going the right way. While this might sound extreme, even having a guilty pleasure lined up to fall back on can be a blessing if things don’t go according to plan. People won’t get off your back? Go and see that film you’ve been meaning to while the cinemas are empty. Heck, we’d almost choose that option in the first place if it weren’t for the importance of making an effort to socialise when you’ve made a big life change.

If not, at least make an escape plan so that you know how and when you’re getting home. And stick to it. If you are feeling at your absolute peak when the time comes to leave, it can be tempting to stay longer – but the best strategy is precisely the opposite. Chances are that it’s going downhill from here and you’ll be the one left with wonderful memories.

Alternatively, ensure you have something to look forward to the next day. Plan brunch with a friend, shopping or anything else you enjoy doing in the mid morning and you’ll be motivated to stick to everything you planned beforehand.

Remember you’re not a babysitter

While it’s often satisfying to support your friends as the designated driver or otherwise look after them when they’ve partied a little too hard, the truth is that this is not your sole responsibility. It can also be a surefire way to make you despise your alcohol-related goals and disrupt your progress. Remember that this is not about surviving the event – it’s about having the best time possible and using that positive experience to strengthen your resolve.

Sometimes this can be easier said than done, so you’ll need some strategies. First, determine how much care the person really needs. If they’re in a dangerous place and it’s unlikely that anyone else can help, then frankly it will be important to continue helping them. Otherwise, you can begin looking for openings to drag others into the situations you find yourself stuck with. For example, if you’re listening to a diatribe about an ex and you happen to have no shared ground, look for someone who does and slyly extract yourself from the conversation.

Your strategy might differ depending on the context. If you’re at a house party, let the host play their role. Ultimately it’s their responsibility to ensure a safe level of alcohol consumption and take care of their guests’ needs. They might consider taking the music down a notch to calm things down a bit, hand drinks out rather than facilitate a serve-yourself booze buffet, or ultimately see to it to safely send them home if things go too far. Or, if you’re out at a licensed venue and your friend is going in a concerning direction, don’t hesitate to politely get security involved. Being “in trouble” is only temporary, but the knock-on effects of things going too far can be life changing.

Finally, if you know the likely candidates to require your babysitting prowess, look for an opening to let them know in advance that you don’t intend to look after them. Perhaps start the evening with them and encourage lighter drinking options to set them on the right track.

Now, this isn’t to say that you should be completely detached. If someone is really in trouble it’s going to be important to help them out. And for some, playing this caretaking role can be genuinely helpful in their own journey. It’s up to you. Just remember that you get to define your evening and your goal is to enjoy it.

Mindset matters

You’ve done this before. Not necessarily the sober party if this is new for you, but rather, we socialise without alcohol all the time. We catch up over coffee, eat lunch, and plan activities such as a movie festival itinerary. Alcohol is not a magic elixir for socialising; it’s never what makes an event and it pays to remember this. Instead, alcohol just tends to exaggerate the other things you love such as spending high quality time with friends, listening to good music and having a dance. So bask in all these other things and remind yourself that you are lucky to have an unfiltered experience of them all.

It’s important to remain positive. Don’t tell yourself that this event will be terrible because “it was so good last year and now I’m not drinking so it just won’t be the same …” If you tell yourself this, the chances are that this will become your perception of the event. Know that you’re going in with a plan, remind yourself that you’re going to have a blast, and take care to notice and appreciate the good things.

Finally, if you usually have a big pre-event routine such as getting ready with your friends, going to the hairdresser or listening to your favourite playlist, don’t skip it! This will all add to the experience of the party or event and ensure that any FOMO you might have is kept to an absolute minimum. It’s all about having fun.

What do you do to ensure big events are fun without alcohol?

How your friends help you change

On the road to a better relationship with alcohol, we lean on the people closest to us; our spouses, our mates and our families. When friends help, they get us through the difficult nights, help us move on from our mistakes, and push us not to give up on ourselves. However, if we’re not careful, our support network can also help us make excuses. Having a friend or a family member who is a sort of “partner in crime” can turn defaulting on resolutions into a shared experience, one that somehow feels more permissible than if you did it alone.

The essential takeaway: our support networks have a measurable effect on how we behave. Pursuing relationships with people who have similar goals, helps us achieve our milestones, while other relationships will need work to make sure they function as support and not as obstacles.

Humans are social animals. It’s how we were made. We form close connections because having these relationships make our lives better. Unconsciously, we mirror behaviours practised by the people in our social circle. We base some of our internal definitions of what is okay by looking at how people around us behave. What this means for someone who is trying to change their drinking habits is that the people in your social circle are capable of both helping you or slowing your progress. Communicating effectively about what you need, and how they can best support you, can make the difference between the two.

You can get closer to your goals when your friends help

How can your friends help?

Listen: Sit down with you and have a conversation about what kind of situations can trigger your need to drink. If they know about your triggers, they can back you up and help you cope with them when they occur.

Socialise: Encourage you as you expand your social life with new activities like exercise and events where drinking isn’t the main focus. You can even sweet talk them into accompanying you if you’re nervous to go alone.

Connect: Pursue new people and new experiences, but don’t feel like you have to leave your old mates behind. Ask them to be there for you even if you can’t drink with them.

Three ways your friends help at social events

  1. Understand that sticking to your goals is important to you, and they should not ask you to drink with them if you’re trying not to.

  2. Help you find a non-alcoholic drink to have in your hand to avoid awkward questions.

  3. A good way to hold yourself accountable is to volunteer to be the designated driver for the group. You’ll have additional motivation to stick to your goals, and you will be everyone’s favourite person for getting them home.

We are who we are around


In this day and age, we have a newfound ability to really reflect on who we want to spend our time with. We have access to more communities than we could ever possibly reach out to. What this means for us is that if we want to change who we are and what we do each day, we have the ability to reach out and find people who are doing the same thing. To make connections with people is to be human, and to fear losing these connections is more human still.

Changing what you do with your Saturday nights is scary, because you may lose people who expect you to drink as heavily as they do. The liberating aspect of modern society is that while you may lose some friends who can’t accept your changes, the number of people and communities for you to reach out to is limitless. Your potential to find new people, and new things to do with your Sunday mornings is limitless.

What can you do with this information? Talk to your friends, talk to your spouse. Telling them about your goals with alcohol is good, but telling them about how they can help is better.

Click on this link for more ideas on support https://www.hellosundaymorning.org/daybreak/family-and-friends/

Why brunch is the best way to connect with people

Brunch it

Do you love to brunch? A look at the phenomenon sweeping the world and disrupting pubs everywhere, helping people say #hellosundaymorning.

Posted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, June 18, 2016

Maintaining friendships is difficult when you change your relationship with alcohol. But while socialising feels like it’s built around alcohol, it doesn’t need to be.

Brunch is a rising epidemic. From the humble weekly hangout through to birthdays and weddings, brunch is the answer to all and everything. But when your pals are faithful pub patrons, how do you convince them to switch from Saturday night drinks to Sunday morning brunch?

How to catch up with friends without alcohol

Remind them of the power of food as a uniting force.

Humans have been socialising over meals for most of our history. Believe it or not, brunch itself has been around for at least 100 years. However, its form today is nothing short of celestial as food has matured into much more than simple sustenance.

Brunch and catching up with friends without alcohol with Hello Sunday Morning
Are your mates at brunch, too?

Variety

Brunch is eggs, brunch is burritos and brunch is cake. No other meal compares in variety. Plus, because you are squeezing two meals into one, you can eat all of this without the guilt. Would you like ice cream with your pancakes, bacon and eggs? We say, why not?

Oh, excuse me! Can I get some vegan maple syrup?
… with my deconstructed bacon dust?

Brunch pleases everyone

This is the one meal where the vegetarian options might outdo the carnivorous ones. Mums can bring their babies (both human and canine welcome) and while we don’t condemn infants in inns, the practice is typically frowned upon. Don’t like dressing up? Active wear is on trend. Single and looking? Cafés are the ideal sanctuary to survey other humans over your steaming latte. Brunch is for the people!

Connection

Succeeded only by therapy in terms of value for your emotional well-being, brunch time is an essential component of a healthy life (and healthy Instagram feed).

Lifelong friendships have long been carved in between swathes of smashed avo and vibrant free range yolks. The conversation you have with a mate at the pub, bellowing and gesticulating over noise in that crowded echo chamber, just doesn’t compare. For social connection, brunch is the clear winner. Succeeded only by therapy in terms of value for your emotional well-being, brunch time is an essential component of a healthy life (and healthy Instagram feed).

Hello Sunday Morning and meaningful friendships without alcohol over brunch
To me, it’s the most meaningful time of the week

The brunch boom

Where the pub reigned for most of Australian history, brunch venues are taking up residence. They allow us to meet like-minded people in open settings, and provide a place for cultivation of identity and examination of meaning.

You don’t need to give up your social life when you change your relationship with alcohol. Invite your friends to say Hello Sunday Morning over brunch.