Being young professionals and living in thriving cities, we are constantly confronted with events and “reasons” as to why we should drink. Business networking events, we are told (and justify in our minds), go down easier with a couple of glasses of wine. Big deals are done and relationships are built with clients over bottles of expensive red wine. Even catching up with friends after work inevitably involves alcohol. It seems these days that, even despite our best efforts, it is extraordinarily difficult to avoid partaking in social drinking.
To refuse a drink outright is often met with shock or even downright anger from friends and co-workers. The usual questions are quickly and aggressively fired back – “why aren’t you drinking? Are you on a diet?” These are followed up with bribing and cajoling by them, trying to get you to engage in the same behaviour they are. You see, at its heart, people want you to drink with them. To them, drinking isn’t as fun if everyone isn’t involved. If everyone in the group is up for having a good time, it makes them feel better about their behaviour, which leads to more drinking, and more headaches the next day.
I used to fall into this trap. I would walk around all day, determined that when the time came, I would politely refuse a drink. Yet sure enough, someone would give me the guilt trip, or worse – the cold shoulder – when I refused, and soon enough, I found myself back to square one, wine glass in hand, and regret running through my mind.
There is good news however, and you can still participate in all social events sans booze. It just takes a little work. Aside from staying strong and simply saying no, there are other tricks you can use. First of all: cheat. It is funny because I have noticed that faking drinking has the same effect on those around you as actually drinking. How do you do this? Arrive early if you can and order a soda water with lime. Add mint or anything else if you like to dress it up and then simply tell people you are drinking vodka soda, or gin and tonic. Works a treat. Same goes with shots. If someone is ordering a round (and usually by this stage whoever is ordering is pretty drunk anyway), find the bartender and ask him or her to fill yours with water. Works a treat, and it looks like you’re still participating in the shenanigans.
There are other ways to avoid the booze: say you are (or actually be) the designated driver; say you have an early day the next day (sports game, work, marathon etc.); even pretend you are on medication (antibiotics anyone?) Any of these things can work to get people off your back about the fact that you are not drinking.
While these techniques can help you avoid getting too boozy, also remember the golden rule of “everything in moderation”. One glass of wine is not going to kill you. I am a strong believer in balance, and alcohol is best enjoyed with friends. This post is directed more so at those of us who find ourselves in situations every night where we are cajoled into drinking. Again, there is nothing wrong with this (in moderation) – I know a lot of people who drink every night with their meal, and they are completely happy with this. The purpose of this is to simply offer some tips to those who don’t like the idea of drinking constantly, even in small amounts. As always, the answer to this is simple: trust your body and it will guide you to make the right decisions.