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“But you’re so fun drunk!”
“I could never go out sober”
“Isn’t it boring?”
They’re straight from the textbook of your friend’s reactions after you tell them you’re cutting down or taking a break from drinking. These remarks can make you question your decision – ‘actually, why did I stop drinking?’ Or they make you feel isolated, as if no one understands your situation.
So what’s the best way to deal with your well-intentioned mates when the sober sledging comes out?
‘Shouting’ and ‘rounds’ don’t give people much choice in how fast they want to drink or how much they want to drink – it’s all about keeping up with the crew. Everyone has different limits when it comes to alcohol and ‘shouting’ makes it hard to monitor and even harder to say ‘no’ to a bevvy – especially when you’re being offered a free drink.
‘Shouting’ makes it hard to monitor and even harder to say ‘no’ to a bevvy
Methods from cognitive-behavioural therapy, a clinical technique that features in the Daybreak app, can help if your friends might not be as supportive as you need. One example is the recognise-avoid-cope approach, where the first point is to recognise two different types of social pressure to drink—direct and indirect. ‘Direct social pressure’ is when someone offers you a drink or an opportunity to drink. ‘Indirect social pressure’ is when you feel tempted to drink just by being around others who are drinking, even if no one offers you a drink.
Being aware of the pressure you might get from friends helps you prepare for how to avoid or remove yourself from the situation.
For some of us, going to a huge boozy party and just having ‘a few’ is not an option — and that’s okay. If you know that some people or events will make it difficult for you when it comes to alcohol, it might be that you avoid them altogether. When you feel that you’re strong enough to resist the social pressures, you can always ease yourself back into these sloshed-up soirees.
If you know alcohol will be served, it’s important to be prepared to deliver a convincing ‘no, thanks’ when you’re handed a glass. Sometimes it’s best to avoid long explanations and vague excuses, as they can provide more of an opportunity for you to give in.
This article was supported by Hello Sunday Morning, an online movement that supports any individual looking to change their relationship with alcohol. Its latest project supported by nib foundation, Daybreak Health Coaches is the first dedicated chat-based service for Australians who want to change their relationship with alcohol.