How to deal with alcohol-related peer pressure

Alcohol-related peer pressure can be the worst. There’s nothing more annoying than being coaxed into consuming that last booze you really didn’t want. What’s worse is feeling abnormal, strange, or damn weird for not wanting to get drunk.

Whatever your reasons for abstaining from alcohol, whether it’s hangover anxiety or “hangxiety” as it’s now called, aversion general feeling or fear of losing control, know that when it comes to not drinking, your choice is valid. Speaking from experience, peer pressure can be very alienating. When our current social climate seems to dictate getting excessively drunk to show that you can have fun, you may find yourself struggling as someone who prefers to connect with humans on a more sober level.

What’s wrong with wanting to talk to someone who isn’t blind drunk and articulate their words? Is it strange to prefer to be able to actually function the day after a party? If this sounds familiar, be sure to ease the burden of alcohol-related peer pressure with these helpful tips.

1. Know that you are not alone.

When social life seems geared towards alcoholic mayhem, know that you’re not the only one who prefers alternative forms of socializing. Sobriety is actually on the rise among young people. Have you ever heard of Generation Sober? If the answer is “no”, you must have lived under a rock.

Generation Sober is the latest nickname given to millennials and Gen Zers who drink less than ever. Trading in antisocial consumption for mindfulness and physical well-being, these 20-somethings are here to show us how pleasure isn’t defined by levels of intoxication. Hooray!

2. Respect your decision.

Respecting your own decision not to drink is imperative in dealing with peer pressure. Remember that saying “no” is okay. Don’t let other people compromise your integrity if you’re not comfortable with it. If you don’t feel like drinking, don’t drink! The best way to get others to respect your decision is to respect yourself first. No one will hate you for not getting drunk.

If someone starts giving you a hard time, don’t feed them. It’s your body, your preferences and your decision. Simply put, it’s your business and no one else’s. Know that you can politely remind others or just tell them when they make you feel uncomfortable. Honesty is the best policy, both with yourself and with your critics.

3. Opt for alcohol-free alternatives.

Just because you don’t drink alcohol doesn’t mean you have to stop drinking completely! Why not have just as much fun with a mocktail or a beer? They look the part, taste the same, and don’t come with the headache the next morning. So what’s not to like?

Non-alcoholic drinks are also great for making you feel included. Sometimes you just don’t want to draw attention to your sober behavior. With a faithful mocktail in hand, there will be no room to feel embarrassed or left out.

4. Change the conversation

When you take the conversation away from alcohol, people stop noticing that you’re not drinking it. It may seem obvious, but believe me, it’s a lifesaver! Talk about something else. Ask them about their day? Maybe you haven’t heard of their latest life drama and want to know all the gossip?
Discuss the current trend towards sobriety. Did you know that there are plenty of celebrities who are clean? Lana del Rey, Gerard Butler, Blake Lively and even David Beckham all abstain from alcohol and manage to look cool while doing it!

5. Suggest sober alternatives to socializing.

Don’t let alcohol dictate the way you have fun. When planning your next social gathering, leave the booze at the door and get involved in something active. Do you like the outdoors? Have a quiet picnic or go for a hike. Do you like to eat in restaurants? Suggest having a dinner party or even a BBQ. Maybe you are more of a homebody? Host a movie night with your best friends and make sure there’s plenty of popcorn on hand.

6. Surround yourself with people who respect your decision.

Cherish the friendships that don’t make you feel left out because you don’t want to drink. Tell a loved one how peer pressure affects you. When talking about the potential annoyance of feeling like a weirdo for not being drunk all the time, having a crutch in situations where you feel pressured can be really helpful.
This friend can support you when it gets too much at a party. They can step in and help divert attention (or the incessant questions) from your sobriety and make you feel safe.

7. Leave the situation.

If it all gets too heavy and you start to feel uncomfortable, leave! Unfortunately, not everyone is sensitive to the preferences and feelings of others. Some may not understand your reasons for not drinking, but that shouldn’t allow them to be rude to you or make you feel bad about it. When the repeated “no” and polite excuses fail, removing yourself from the situation may be your best bet.

Your safety and well-being come first. You are your own priority, so don’t suffer unnecessarily. Sometimes the strongest among us are those who exercise our ability to freely walk away from a situation without hesitation or shame.

For a few final words of encouragement: don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Drink or not drink, you can still have fun. Whether you’re a teetotaler or just a conscientious consumer, respect your choice and know that you won’t be bored because of it!