Quitting drinking is one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself—it’s not only beneficial to your body, but it’s good for your mental health, and it can make a positive impact on all parts of your life. It’s also a very personal decision that you may not be ready to talk about yet. And even if you are, friends and family may not quite understand your decision to go alcohol-free.
Although building a support system is crucial to your sobriety, our closest loved ones may not be a part of that. For some of us, a support system consists of a community of like-minded sober folks (like the one you’ll find within Tempest Membership). So you may find yourself wondering how you’ll stay true to your sobriety goals this holiday season, especially when around family and friends who don’t understand why you have or are trying to quit drinking.
For me, and many others who are living an alcohol-free life, the worst part of holiday get-togethers is all of the awkward questions you will inevitably face about your decision to give up booze during a season when everyone else seems to be double-fisting drinks. If you’re heading to a family gathering or social event soon, we’ve prepared a few questions that we’ve been asked at holiday parties over the years. We’re also giving you our answers! Yes, you will likely get asked… so save this story and refer to it when you need a refresher.
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1. But you can have just one, right?
This is a particularly difficult question because there is no real answer that will truly satisfy the person asking. And the truth is, this question is additionally complicated because it largely depends on where you are in your alcohol-free journey. But here’s the thing: The person asking this isn’t really asking about you. They are asking because they are insecure about their own drinking and what it means if they can’t have “just one.” So when it comes to addressing this question, it’s best to hold firm that you’re simply happier not having one even if you could, in theory, handle “just one.” Keep it simple and move on.
Answer: “I’m honestly happier not having any, even if I could.”
2. How do you have fun without alcohol?
This question always makes me laugh because I, too, remember worrying about this before I gave up drinking. In fact, one of the biggest questions we get at Tempest (especially on our Instagram) is: Will I lose all of my friends if I quit drinking? And we have the answer! But the short of it is that people are concerned that they will no longer be able to connect with you without booze. But you can reassure them that you are still the same person deep down and you can, in fact, do all of those activities you enjoyed before—just without the drink in your hand. During the holidays, I usually point to holiday-specific activities that are just as fun (if not more fun!) without alcohol. For me, that usually includes holiday baking and cookie decorating, holiday movie marathons, and venturing out to see sparkling lights in your town.
Answer: “I actually have tons of fun without alcohol!” Then, if you want, list some of your favorite booze-free activities.
3. Don’t you miss drinking?
Well, what a loaded question! Similar to any questions you may get about having “just one,” this question is more about the answer than the asked. Here’s the truth: Yes, you might miss drinking. But do you really? For me, it’s not so much about missing the alcohol but missing the way it “turned by brain off” (basically, calmed my anxiety). Many of us use alcohol as a coping mechanism before we stop drinking. But there are alternative coping mechanisms out there that won’t cause the repercussions that alcohol will cause. So to answer this question, I remember that my sobriety is my own and this person really isn’t looking for an answer, which is why it’s best to answer quickly.
Answer: “Not really” or “I don’t miss the way alcohol made me feel.”
4. Wait, what can you drink?
You may already know this but you can actually drink quite a lot of things, actually! We always recommend bringing your favorite non-alcoholic beverage with you before attending a party or gathering so you won’t be stuck with water only. That way, when asked this question, you can point to your delicious drink and say you’re drinking something you like! If you’re planning a party of your own, you can get incredibly creative with mocktail recipes and the many fancy non-alcoholic drinks now available on the market. And when in doubt, seltzer and lime is a timeless classic. Or, for a holiday feel, try seltzer with a splash of cranberry juice.
Answer: “I’m actually really enjoying my drink!” and name it if you’d like.
5. Eggnog is still okay, isn’t it?
The good news here is that most commercial eggnog you’ll find at the grocery store is actually naturally alcohol-free, so it shouldn’t be a problem if you love this holiday drink. The reason someone may ask you this is because many people drink eggnog around the holidays with an alcohol like rum. But there’s no real reason to do this, especially if you’ve quit drinking. The only thing you need to be careful about is drinking eggnog (or any other holiday drinks) from communal party bowls or pitchers. Stick to pouring yourself eggnog from a commercial bottle that you can double-check is sans added alcohol.
Answer: “Yes, just without the booze.”
6. Why aren’t you drinking? You’re fine!
Here’s the thing: You are the person who decides whether or not you should drink, and somebody else’s definition of “fine” may not be your own. You also don’t have to tell anyone the reason(s) you’re not drinking! If you’ve decided that you want to be alcohol-free, stick with your decision and limit the time and energy you spend with people who question or criticize your healthy choices. You can certainly go into why you actually made this choice, but sometimes keeping the answer short and sweet is best.
Answer: “I just don’t want to drink anymore, that’s all.”
7. Can’t you just wait till after the holidays?
The best time to quit drinking is the time you feel ready, so if that’s before the holidays, then do it! If alcohol is making you feel bad or getting in the way of the life you want, why postpone making a change? If you need extra support during this time of year, you can sign up for Tempest Accountability Coaching. But the key here is to feel comfortable with your decision and not let anyone else’s idea of the “right time” to quit alcohol derail your decision. Bonus: you’ll avoid those awful post-holiday hangovers.
Answer: “To be honest, now feels like the right time for me.”
8. How are you going to celebrate New Year’s?
New Year’s Eve can be a triggering holiday for those of us who are trying to get and stay sober. If you’re anything like me, you may have some not-so-pleasant memories of NYE past. But even if you don’t, you surely know folks who at the very least weren’t particularly happy with the hangovers they felt when waking up on January 1st. Luckily, there are plenty of alcohol-free ways to celebrate the coming of a new year. For one, you could just stay n and not celebrate… since it’s a bit of an arbitrary day. But if you do decide to celebrate, there’s nothing wrong with just cheering with a selltzer or sparkling apple cider. Personally, I’m a fan of Welch’s Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Rosé, which y ou can buy at most grocery stores. For your answer, I encourage you to be friendly and highlight your favorite sparkling non-alcoholic drink.
Answer: “I really love sparkling apple cider. You should try some!”
9. But are you sure you can’t drink?
Does it really matter?! That’s what I usually want to reply, but it doesn’t always seem so appropriate. Instead, think about the answer we gave in question #1 about having “just one” or #6 about being “fine.” You don’t need to directly reply to this question about being sure whether or not you can drink. That decision is yours and yours alone. Instead, think about your reasons for not drinking. If you need to, write a little list and keep it in your wallet so that you can sneak into the bathroom and take a look whenever you need anextra dose of courage. And for this question, take a deep breath and focus on your happiness.
Answer: “I’m sure that I am much happier today.”
10. Oh god, but I can still drink in front of you, can’t I?
Many of my family members and friends had—and still have—this question. It sounds pretty awkward but it usually comes from a decent enough place. For some, they’re worried about triggering you. Others may wonder if their drinking will make you not want to be around them. Though some others may also be worried about their own drinking habits… but no matter what the reasoning is, the answer is fully up to you! Personally, I don’t mind it… but it does bother me sometimes. That’s why I always plan to have my support system as a backup and make an escape plan (typically, leaving by a certain time of night). Here are some sample answers, though, depending on your level of comfort.
Answer: “Of course you can. My choice to not drink is just about me” or “Since you’re asking, I honestly don’t love it.”
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Don’t forget—you’re under no obligation to disclose the fact that you aren’t drinking or answer any questions that make you uncomfortable. If things get really awkward, it’s totally okay to leave the party early. And, if you know that there will be a lot of unsupportive people there, it’s also okay to just not go.