Navigating Invitations to Drink 

As more people are getting vaccinated for COVID-19, many facilities are beginning to open up again, including bars, restaurants and clubs. While this may be a fun and exciting time for many, it can lead to cravings for those in recovery from alcohol addiction. As your friends and family members start going out to drink again, they may invite you along. It can be tempting to accept these invitations, whether you are craving alcohol or just want to spend time with your loved ones. So, how do you navigate invites to go out and drink when you’re sober? 


Have an Honest Talk With Your Friends

If your friends invite you out to drink, have an honest conversation about where you are at. Of course, it’s up to you how much information you decide to share or not share with them. You don’t have to justify your decision not to drink, and no explanation is needed. However, honestly talking to your friends can help them understand where you are coming from and that your sobriety is important to you. 

Let your friends know what they can do to help. You may want to go out to eat at a restaurant with your friends, but you would appreciate a sober buddy. Let your friends know, and one of them may be willing to stay sober with you throughout the night and help you resist the temptation to drink. Or maybe you would like to spend time together, but not at a place where alcohol is served. You can suggest new activities such as playing cards at home or watching a movie together. If your friends love and support you, they will be willing to listen and help you where they can. 


Suggest a New Hang-Out Spot

One of the easiest things you can do to avoid the temptation to drink — and avoid having to explain yourself — is to go to places that don’t serve alcohol. You can suggest hanging out somewhere where alcohol will likely not be served, such as coffee shops, museums, movie theaters or fast-food restaurants. 


Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”

When you’re invited to drink, don’t be afraid to simply say “no.” To help yourself turn down invitations, you can keep it simple. Statements such as “I don’t drink” or “I’m in recovery” can be simple enough to get your point across and let people know you don’t want to go out with them. However, not everybody feels comfortable disclosing their sobriety. Instead, you can say something like, “No thanks. I’m tired tonight and want to go home.” You can practice these phrases at home to help yourself get more comfortable saying “no;” that way, when you are invited out, your response is ready. While saying “no” sounds easy, it is crucial to be firm and convincing so that others do not try to pressure you into going out with them. 


Remember: Not Everyone Wants to be Sober 

When turning down invitations to drink, it’s also important to remember that not everyone wants to be sober. You may want a friend to be your sober buddy for the night, but they may not wish the same, and that’s OK. However, in these instances, sobriety can feel isolating. It can be easy to look at your friends and feel envious that they can go out to drink for a night and not spiral out of control. When you feel this way, it is crucial to remember why you chose sobriety in the first place and recognize how far you have come. By living a sober lifestyle, you are giving yourself the best gift you possibly can: freedom. 

Although sobriety can feel isolating, you can do things to remind yourself there is fun in recovery. While you may still have friends who drink, you can also make sober friends. Online groups, support meetings and old friends from treatment are great places to start looking for sober friends. With these people, you can go to restaurants and dine out while everyone stays sober and holds each other accountable. 


If You Say “Yes”

Sometimes, it’s hard to say “no,” and you may accept an invitation to go out with friends to a bar, club or restaurant where alcohol is served. If you are going out with friends, it is crucial to have a plan in place. Talk to friends or family in your support system about where you are going and that there will be alcohol present. These people can periodically check in on you and help keep you accountable. 

It is also imperative to have an exit plan if you know you will be surrounded by alcohol. Remember, it is perfectly okay to leave early. You can just leave and say you have to go without offering an excuse, but it may be helpful to have a scripted response on hand to help you get out of the situation. For example, you may try saying things such as: 

  • “I have to get up early for an event.”
  • “I’m not feeling good right now.”
  • “I have plans to meet another friend.” 

If you are still craving alcohol once you leave the environment, make sure you reach out for help. Call a trusted friend or family member, a sponsor or seek out a local support group to attend. 


People are now getting vaccinated, and the country is opening up once again, which means bars, clubs and restaurants are opening too. With places where alcohol is served resuming business, you may receive an invite to go out and drink with friends. While it can be tempting to go out and spend time with friends, it is crucial to put your recovery first and ensure you are not tempted to drink. To help yourself turn down invites to drink, you can try being open and honest with friends or suggesting a new spot to hang out. Most importantly, remember, it’s okay to say “no.” If you feel you are struggling with an addiction to alcohol, Cliffside Malibu is here to help. We provide a fully luxurious environment for residential alcohol and drug treatment, so you can focus on the critical work of addressing your addiction with as little stress and discomfort as possible. For more information on Cliffside Malibu, call us today at (855) 403-5641.