Saying no to others is challenging for a lot of people. Even in everyday life, many take on a lot of tasks or put themselves in situations that make them uncomfortable and stressed. Oftentimes, people just want to avoid the awkward feeling or confrontation that saying no can bring on.
For those who are in recovery or who struggle with alcohol addiction, saying no can be even more difficult. It’s easier to say no in your head, but when you’re in a real-life situation and you’re asked if you want a drink, saying no feels almost impossible. Your addictive tendencies make it hard to turn down a drink, and once you have one, saying no to the next one only becomes even more challenging.
You’ve got this, though. Saying no is difficult, but you can say no. You can politely decline their offer and put your sobriety first. No one said being sober is easy, but you can do this and feel better for it.
Most people in recovery say they find their biggest triggers to use alcohol are in social situations. It’s hard not to drink when you see others around you having a great time while drinking. You start to rationalize that just one drink won’t hurt. Additionally, seeing people drink, especially for those newly sober people, intensifies cravings. With the thought that everyone around you is drinking, you find it hard to relate to others, and maybe even left out. Then there is the uncomfortable feeling of telling others why you’re not drinking.
The reality is avoiding our triggers is not a reasonable solution for anyone. One of the best strategies to develop for those in recovery is to compile a list of ways to say no when you’re put in a challenging situation that may jeopardize your sobriety. Create this list in a safe space when you’re feeling strong, and have it with you to affirm your stance that you are going to remain sober, and you can do this.
Tips to Learn to Say No
Learning how to say no can feel hard at first, but the more you do it, the better you’re going to be at it. Try these tips:
Be Firm. Give your answer confidently and get straight to the point. One of the best things you can do after you’ve said no is to walk away. Lingering only invites unwanted attempts from those around you. Here are some straight-to-the-point responses. Remember to maintain eye contact and pay attention to your infliction when delivering these responses to avoid turning them into a question.
“No, I’m okay.”
“Naah, I don’t feel like drinking”
“I don’t want any, thank you.”
“I’m not drinking right now.”
“I’m in recovery.”
“I don’t drink.”
Alternative Responses Can Include:
“No thanks, I’m driving” or “I’m the DD”
“I’m drinking this” (hold up a beverage that does not contain alcohol).
“I am trying to be more healthy.”
“Those calories don’t fit in my diet”
“No thanks, I can’t drink with my medication.”
“I am trying to cut back on sugar.”
Take the Position of Power. Do not apologize for your decision or feel guilty for not putting your sobriety in jeopardy. Make it clear to whoever is offering you a drink that you are in control and have no room for wiggle. This is your decision and they will not change your mind.
Set Boundaries. Too often you are told or made to believe that setting up boundaries with friends and family is a negative thing. Healthy boundaries should be mandatory in every aspect of your life, and you shouldn’t be made to feel bad about setting them. In fact, if someone reacts negatively to your boundaries, that says more about their character and their level of respect. Friends and family members who won’t take no for an answer are not healthy relationships. When there is mutual respect, then you saying no won’t matter.
Remain Kind. Reacting angrily gets you nowhere. In fact, it is probably just going to increase any negative feelings you were having. Plus, when you are able to react kindly and respectfully, you are able to keep the perspective that you are making a rational, well-thought-out decision while also staying in control.
Practice, Practice, Practice
As silly as you might think it is or how ridiculous you feel doing it, these responses will come out easier and more confidently if you’re constantly practicing them. Try practicing a few of these lines during your commute to work, in the shower, or while brushing your hair in the mirror. The more you practice, the quicker the response will come when you find yourself being offered an alcoholic beverage. Having those responses readily available can help to eliminate self-doubt and awkward silence, so pick your go-to refusal phrases today.
Chances are during at least one point in your recovery process, you’re going to be offered a drink that triggers your cravings and puts you in an uncomfortable situation. We can do our absolute best to avoid situations that put our recovery in jeopardy, but we also need to prepare ourselves for unavoidable situations that we will be faced with at some point. it could happen this holiday season or next year at a family dinner. Opportunities to relapse can be presented in almost every social gathering, so it is best to set yourself up for success. One of the best ways to do that is to learn how to say no. Saying no can be challenging to many people, but especially so for those struggling with a substance use disorder. Reach out to Sober Life today to talk with a team of professionals who want to help your recovery thrive. Call (619) 542-9542.