Preventing relapses at parties can be a concern. Not only for non-drinkers but also for thoughtful hosts and other guests. Here are tips for non-drinkers, drinkers, and hosts. Preventing relapses should be everyone’s concern

Preventing Relapses for Guests Who Don’t Drink

Tell your spouse or friend before you go to a party that you may feel tempted by being around alcohol. Explain that you need to be able to leave the party on a moments notice. And you may need to do so without explaining  why to anyone. You can always have another place to go.

preventing relapsesWhen you arrive at the gathering tell your host that you can probably only stay for a short time. Say that you will know later after you make a phone call. Then you aren’t obliged to stay. What usually happens is that you have a great time because there’s no pressure to stay.

If someone offers a drink, say “What a good idea. Do you have soda-water with lemon or cola?” This allows you to say yes and get what you want as well. Very few people will press anything alcoholic on you. If they do simply say “Not right now thank you, but a coke would really hit the spot.”1

Remember that

  • You don’t have to take a drink just because it’s offered to you.
  • You can “lose” unwanted drinks that are given to
    you. For example, set them down and later walk away.
  • You can drink non-alcoholic drinks that look like alcoholic ones. For example, tomato juice, lemonade, iced tea, or water with ice cubes. Pehaps club soda with orange juice, tonic water with a twist
    or wedge of lime, and either orange juice or 7-Up with grenadine.
  • Stay away from people who give you a hard time about not drinking.

Saying “no” gets easier the more you do it. Practice refusing drinks politely. Or say something clever.

“I don’t need any more hair on my chest.”

“I’m performing neurosurgery in the morning.”

“It sloshes too much when I jog.”

or just “No thank you.” 2

For Guests Who Do Drink: Help in Preventing Relapses

  • Never push drinks on anyone who declines. Choosing to abstain and choosing to drink in moderation are both equally acceptable options for adults.
  • Don’t assume that everyone should be drinking alcohol. And don’t assume that there’s something wrong with those who choose not to drink.
  • Never ask why someone isn’t drinking. That assumes that they should be drinking. Why they aren’t isn’t our business.

For Hosts: Preventing Relapses

Don’t be self-conscious about having a guest who doesn’t drink. The Caron Foundation offers these “recovery etiquette” tips
for thoughtful hosts.

  • Feel free to serve alcohol beverages at your gathering. Don’t plan your party around a guest who abstains.
  • It’s no big deal if someone at your party is abstaining. There are many reasons people don‘t drink alcohol. If someone declines a drink, don’t ask why.
  • Include non-alcoholic beverages in your offerings. Stock your bar with sparkling water and cider, soft drinks, and juices.
  • If you’re serving an alcoholic beverage with a meal, offer a non-alcoholic alternative as well.
  • Let guests know which foods and beverages contain alcohol. Remember that even foods cooked with alcoholic beverages generally contain some residual alcohol. 3

Preventing relapses can be part of both attending parties and of hosting them.

Party on… thoughtfully!


1. White, H. Recovery During the Holidays., June 29, 2005.

2. Poliafico, F. J. DrinkingAlcohol? Make an Informed Choice. Chester, Pennsylvania: Emergency and Safety Programs, 1994.

3. Caron Foundation.

Disclaimer: This website is informational only. It makes no suggestions or recommendations about alcohol, drinking, rehabs, programs, or any other matter and none should be inferred. Neither this website nor your host receives any compensation, directly or indirectly, from listing or describing any program. Such listing or description does not imply endorsement. [+]

Filed Under: Resources for Alcoholism Self-Help