Not Drinking? Hey, Me Neither


At times it feels like alcohol is part of every event. Happy hours after work, mimosas at brunch, wine tastings, holiday parties, weddings, fundraisers, pool parties, beach days, etc., the list goes on and on. 

Sometimes I feel inundated with suggestions from advertisements, social media, or friends that I should drink to deal with crying children, work frustrations, or relationship issues.

But here’s the thing: I don’t really drink that much. And not only do I think that’s okay, I also think it’s more common than we realize and doesn’t need to be explained.

>> RELATED READ :: Mommy Doesn’t Need A Drink <<

Reasons to Not Drink

Believe it or not,  only about 60% of U.S. adults drink alcoholic beverages. The list of reasons people don’t drink is long and varied, including but not limited to:

Every single reason on the above list (and every single one not listed) is valid, and none of them are anyone’s business. But not drinking in a world where most social events revolve around alcohol can be exhausting and patently unfun.

Refuse alcoholHow to be Sober-Inclusive

Being sensitive to sobriety doesn’t have to mean no drinking at all (although that is certainly an option.) In reality, just being considerate and thinking through possibilities can make events more sober-inclusive.

1. Make sure drinking isn’t the primary focus of gatherings.

This may mean changing a venue from a bar to a restaurant or adding an activity to plans to meet up.

A year or two ago, I met one of my friends regularly for happy hour. Now we go on long walks instead. Small changes can help shift the tone of the event and allow drinking to take a backseat.

2. Respect a drink refusal, and don’t ask why.

Asking someone if he or she would like something to drink is rule one of hosting, and that’s fine. If a person requests a soft drink, or says “no,” to your offer of an alcoholic beverage, respect his or her response and move on. Do not try to convince the person to drink and do not ask why. Being respectful makes you a good friend/host.

3. Have other options.

Whatever the situation, make sure there are non-alcoholic options available. Carbonated water, soda, or one of the ever-increasing mocktail options work well and help to be inclusive towards people who would prefer not to drink. 

4. Allow people to bring a friend. 

Going to an event where there is drinking when you are sober is hard. Having someone there to deflect questions, run interference, and generally support you can make a huge difference. I know there are functions where offering a “plus one” can be costly, but it’s something to consider when making invite decisions.

>> RELATED READ :: Mommy’s Sippy Cup: Five Signs Your Drinking May Be a Problem <<

Attitudes Around Alcohol

Recently, there have been signs indicating a new shift toward a less alcohol-centric future. There are more and more zero-proof drink options available, Gen Z as a whole is drinking less than their generational counterparts, and understanding around mental health and addiction continues to grow. 

These changes signal that the way we grew up with alcohol may not be the same for our kids. My children are hitting their tween years, and we have already had several conversations about alcohol — why people drink, why people don’t drink, and the effects alcohol can have on your body and mind. 

I have no idea what the future may hold around our societal norms for drinking, but I have hope that acceptance for choosing not to drink continues to grow – without judgment or stigma.


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