3 Simple Ways to Say “No” (and Stay Sober)




Whether you have been abusing substances or not, saying “No” is always a little too difficult. We want to please people, avoid conflict, give a good impression, be agreeable, and just fit in. However, there are ways to say “no” especially in recovery, which will save you from all the hassles of explaining and still keep everyone happy.

When you were in active addiction, one of the most, if not THE most, hated word for you may as well be “No.” Back then, it may be hard for you to accept it when someone tells you “no” and consequently, you find it hard to say “no” to people, too. This kind of behavior is one of the biggest things that was sinking you deeper and deeper into your addiction.

Now that you are in recovery, you may have learned how to say “no.” It’s one of the things that is being taught to you while in treatment. However, as you may find out soon, it’s not as easy as it seems.


“No” is such a negative word that people, even those who are not addicted or not in recovery, even find saying. Saying “no” often leaves a bad taste in the mouth, figuratively speaking. This is because the word means rejection. As such, it goes against our natural instinct to build relationships and get along with others, and so we tend to take this personally.

One of the lessons taught in recovery is to go out of your comfort zone, to learn to do things–the difficult but right things–even if you’re not used to doing them.

So when you, a recovering addict, finds yourself in a situation when you are offered alcohol or to use a substance, you have to learn the simple, easy, and foolproof ways to say “no.”

1. “No, thanks, I’m good, but do you mind if I grab/get a ____?”
This is a great response when someone, like an old friend from your days of active addiction, offers you alcohol or even drugs. It can also work when you’re talking to a really nice person who has no idea what you’ve been through. They may offer you something to make you feel welcome or included. Using this response turns the table around by switching the spotlight from you to them because you’re the one who’s asking the question now.

Most of the time, they will answer, “Yes” or “Of course, no problem!” And this positive response lets you off the hook for saying “no” and at the same time helps make them feel better because they’re saying “yes” to you.

With such a response, you’re not hurting their feelings for declining and still you’re reinforcing belongingness by letting them say “yes” to you. It’s a win-win situation, actually. Just remember to ask for something that will not hurt your sobriety.

2. “No, thanks, I’m driving.”

This is the perfect response if you want to decline an offer of alcohol. It’s a very reasonable excuse, and most people will understand and stop bugging you about drinking as a sign of respecting your responsible decision. Whether this is true or not, it can easily and instantly get you off the hook and avoid your pushy friends from urging you over and over. This excuse also saves you the trouble of explaining yourself or telling your life story again and again each time people offer you a drink.

3. “I don’t do that anymore–I’m sober!”

There are many versions to this excuse. You can inject your own opinion into the equation, raising your voice, being stern, being dead-serious, adding how happy you are, and so many more.

The important thing here is that you be as genuine as you can, and people will immediately respect you and not press you anymore. Whether it’s taking another hit or downing a drink, how you deliver this excuse will not only tell them to back off–it also communicates that you’re better off without it anymore. Who knows, they may even rethink their own choices and be inspired by you.

So there you have it. Next time you’re in a social gathering or a party and someone offers you a drink or a hit, just pick any of these three excuses and people are more likely going to not press the issue anymore. Everyone’s happy, you have not offended anyone, and the party goes on.


Are you having a hard time saying “no” to friends? Are you struggling with addiction or feeling the pull of relapse? Please don’t hesitate to call or text us at our confidential helpline at 09175098826.

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