18 Simple Ways to Say No to Alcohol

Pressure to Drink Alcohol

When influencer and musician Stephen Hilton posted a video about how alcohol is the only drug you have to explain why you’re not using it, he couldn’t have been more right. Have you ever been at a social gathering and had somebody try to force you to have a drink even though you said, “No, thank you” more than once? Why do drinkers feel the need to ask why you aren’t having wine, beer, or a hard seltzer as if there must be something wrong with you for not wanting to consume alcohol? Buzzed people often wrongly assume that non-drinkers must be boring, incapable of letting loose, too sheltered, or just no fun.

Now think about other addictive substances. Has anyone ever grilled you about not smoking cigarettes or questioned why you don’t want to use drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, or heroin? Of course not. But when it comes to alcohol, people are routinely subjected to pressure to drink even when they’ve already said no. This kind of peer pressure can push you to drink excessively to the detriment of your own mental health, cognitive function, and physical well-being. It’s time to fight back with some effective strategies to resist the booze pushers.

When it comes to alcohol, people are routinely subjected to pressure to drink even when they’ve already said no. Click To Tweet


Feeling pressured to drink is common. One study out of Finland found that in the previous 12 months, roughly 50% of people had felt pressured to drink. Social drinkers and heavy drinkers are more likely to say they have been pressured to drink, according to research in Drug and Alcohol Review. The researchers suggest this may be due in part to a “collective aspect” of alcohol consumption as imbibers tend to associate with others who have the same drinking habits.

A 2020 systematic review in BMC Public Health looked at 13 studies on peer pressure and alcohol consumption. The review shows that peer pressure may lead to excessive drinking, which comes with consequences for mental health and physical well-being. And that peer pressure can come in many forms, including:

  • Direct influences: This is when someone offers you a drink and doesn’t want to take no for an answer. They may question why you said no or make you feel like you aren’t any fun or that you’re an outsider if you refuse to join them in drinking. In addition, someone may buy you a drink, hand you one at a party, or fill (or refill) your glass even though you’ve said you don’t want one. This may also include being pressured to participate in drinking games, which increase overconsumption of alcohol. According to the BMC Public Health study mentioned above, people who drink little to no alcohol are more commonly confronted with direct pressure to imbibe more.
  • Indirect influences: Merely being in a social setting where you are observing others who are consuming alcohol can make you feel tempted to join in even when you don’t want to.
  • Societal influences: Our society encourages drinking in so many ways. Images and scenes involving alcohol are commonplace in TV shows and movies; at sporting events, concerts, and other entertainment events; and on social media. In addition, drinking is part of our culture and an accepted aspect of many traditions—just think of the typical wedding toast with champagne, for example.

If you want to rethink your drinking, you need to learn how to say no.


If you’re going to be in a situation where you’re likely to be offered alcohol, arm yourself with statements you can use to make it crystal clear that you don’t want to drink. This is especially important when simply saying, “No, thank you” isn’t enough. Here are some examples you can try:

“Because I love my brain and want to keep it healthy.”

“I have an allergy to alcohol.”

“Alcohol kills gut bugs, and I love my gut bugs.”

“When I drink, I act like an @$$.”

“I prefer to save my calories for food.”

“I want to be fully present and take everything in.”

“I never drink when I have to drive.”

“I’ve already had my limit for the night.”

“At this age, I’ve decided to prioritize my health, so I don’t drink anymore.”

“Since I stopped drinking, I love that I wake up feeling refreshed every day.”

“I have an early day tomorrow, and I want to be my best.”

“I’m in training.” (If they ask what you’re training for, you can say you’re training for a 5K race, a tennis table tournament, or simply your best life.)

“I’m taking a medication that doesn’t mix well with alcohol.”

“We are what we drink, so I’ve decided to skip the booze—and my head is so much clearer!”

“When I learned that alcohol is implicated in about 8 types of cancer, I gave it up.”

“I’m in a program.” (If they ask you what kind of program, you can say a brain health program.)

“I’m sober.”

“I’m trying to cut down, and I would really appreciate your support.”


At first, you may find it difficult or uncomfortable to refuse a drink when someone offers. For this reason, practice your responses with a friend or loved one. Be firm, yet respectful. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel. Soon, your responses will become automatic. If you state your case and someone still keeps pushing you to drink, use the broken-record technique and just keep repeating your statement until they back down.

Learning that you’re in charge of your own alcohol consumption and that you don’t have to give in to social pressure can be so empowering. It’s a potent reminder that you’re in control of your own brain health and physical well-being. Don’t let others steal your health from you.

Excessive alcohol consumption and other mental health disorders can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. THANK YOU for finally supporting the Science of what alcohol is and does to our body.

    Comment by Pamela Price — July 15, 2022 @ 11:28 AM

  2. Then training excuse is my go to response. I explain that I’m an average athlete and don’t want to inhibit my best performance by using alcohol. It works every time.

    Comment by Cathy Woynarowski — July 15, 2022 @ 11:56 AM

  3. How about, “I really don’t like the taste. Or smell. “ I’ve never liked it unless there’s tons of sugar, so nope, not for me.

    Comment by Terri Hampton — July 15, 2022 @ 12:48 PM

  4. Fantastic explanations w 18 points.

    Comment by Rita Batheja — July 15, 2022 @ 1:07 PM

  5. Excellent commentary! It is very seldom I see where someone has posted NOT to drink alcohol. Besides being a Christian I do not believe in drinking any time anywhere. My father was an alcoholic and it was very hard on our family to endure what this brought on. We felt like we had a stranger in t he house because he never hardly ever spoke with us or had any conversations. He was so addicted I guess that he felt awkward. It did kill him at a young age of 60. I really miss having my father to love me. THank you again for this article.

    Comment by Linda Gail Trammel — July 15, 2022 @ 2:46 PM

  6. When I’m asked why I don’t drink, I ask why do you?

    Comment by Patrizia — July 15, 2022 @ 3:12 PM

  7. Great ideas. Would love to give this reference to my patients!!

    Comment by Nicole — July 15, 2022 @ 3:18 PM

  8. As a former alcoholic, I have no problem saying, "No thank you. I am a former alcoholic." Works every time!

    Comment by E M Jordan — July 15, 2022 @ 4:54 PM

  9. Those are some great advice comments that can be really helpful for many people thank you for publishing that

    Comment by Sally — July 15, 2022 @ 6:12 PM

  10. Thank you for your great guidelines that can be very helpful for many people appreciate what you've done the help others

    Comment by Sally shinn — July 15, 2022 @ 6:13 PM

  11. I just say, “I can’t; my parole officer does random testing.” 🤷‍♀️

    Comment by Laura — July 15, 2022 @ 6:48 PM

  12. I really like most of the suggested responses. 🙂
    At a party where I knew most people were pretty heavy drinkers and were the type to urge you to drink, I asked the bartender for a cocktail glass of seltzer with a lime and a little straw. No one asked me to drink! One person asked what I was drinking and I jokingly said something like, "wow, the bartender is pouring really strong drinks tonight"
    Wishing all good health and the courage to speak up for your own health and well-being. xxoo

    Comment by Lorrie — July 15, 2022 @ 8:02 PM

  13. This is so true about social pressure. I order a tall seltzer with a lime slice if I don’t want to drink without being obvious.
    I think drinkers don’t pressure others nearly as much as pot smokers. When I quit that (teen of the 70s), I absolutely had to delete people from my life! They have zero tolerance for non-imbibers.

    Comment by Nancy Ross — July 16, 2022 @ 1:20 PM

  14. We have alcoholism in our family, which is the truth. I've never had anyone push a drink after I make that comment.

    Comment by Sylvia Burns — July 17, 2022 @ 2:08 PM

  15. If I am ever asked to explain why I decline to drink alcohol, I quote Mary Poppins, "I never explain anything."

    Comment by Joan Giordano — July 18, 2022 @ 10:34 AM

  16. Just my 2 cents (former drinker- haven't touched the stuff for 8 years)
    Some of these examples of how to say no seem like a great way to become the "awkward" person at a social event. Yes, sometimes a simple no is not enough and you may have to simply walk away from the person offering to let them know THEY are making you uncomfortable. But don't say something so odd that they will go to others and have a good laugh at the comment they just heard. Or worse offend someone by saying something that makes you sound like your superior because you don't drink.

    Love my brain, gut bugs, at my age, since I stopped, we are what we drink and implicating cancer – all sound like bad ideas to me.

    My 2 cents

    Comment by MissB — August 9, 2023 @ 9:15 AM

  17. After having COVID I can't taste it! I sleep all the next day and it's expensive 😩 Because I was expensive alcoholic!!

    Comment by Gayle — September 23, 2023 @ 10:29 AM

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