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AIBU?

Society's attitude to sobriety

166 replies

ellie09 · 01/02/2024 09:46

I went alcohol free after New Year. Decided that alcohol was no longer for me.

I wasnt an alcoholic but I was on a slippery slope. I live alone with DS and would have spent evenings drinking secretly and many mornings feeling hungover, groggy etc. I also had horrible drunk experiences with alcohol.

It has been going really well. I found an AF red wine I really enjoy and have substituted having this a couple nights a week. My energy, mental health, everything has improved.

Its everybody else's attitude I am struggling with. For example:

  1. Its somebodys leaving do at work on Friday and this person has begged and begged me to "please have a drink". I have consistently told them no as I am driving, but in the end had to make up some BS about being on antibiotics


  1. Friends have planned a get together at a spa. I said I would be driving so can take us all up. Theyve also tried to poke and prod me into having a drink because "why not" and even arranged alternative lift with one of their DP so I can "have a drink and enjoy myself"


  1. My own mother said it would spoil a prosecco tour that everybody wants to do on a group holiday in Budapest in April and that a couple would do me "no harm"


I havent told ANYBODY about the secret drinking (I was maybe having a bottle of wine 3-4 times a week) and they maybe thought it was just at the weekend. I do however, have a hard time stopping once I have had one, so I want to avoid being in that situation.

But why on earth is it anybodys business to try and persuade someone to change their mind?

This is the most difficult part for me in this journey. Everybody who isn't AF just cant fathom how somebody cant drink at events etc.
OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

322 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
6%
You are NOT being unreasonable
94%
PictureFrameWindow · 01/02/2024 09:48

You are right. It's a bit of a taboo in the UK. You're doing great, just keep telling everyone else to piss off. (Sorry you are having to, though).

LightDrizzle · 01/02/2024 09:50

You are not being at all unreasonable.

Im a very moderate drinker but I hate the way alcohol has become so central to social activities over the past 30 years so that people who don’t drink are made to feel like killjoys, prudes or boring drags.

A minority of people can’t have a laugh over a coffee, tea or activity without cheeky Prosecco/ gin/ cocktails being involved.

IDontDrinkTea · 01/02/2024 09:50

I’ve been alcohol free for many years now, and I think it helps how you tell people. If I say I’m driving I get lots of ‘one won’t hurt’ comments, but if I tell people I’m alcohol free because I find alcohol makes me feel unwell and I don’t like that feeling, no one really questions it.

biostudent · 01/02/2024 09:52

I fully understand what you mean. I am not a big drinker, I never have been minus a cuple of years in my late teens, early twenties when I would drink heavily but only on nights out. However, I quite often choose to drive etc purely because I don't enjoy drinking, I don't like having alcohol with a meal and I don't love the way it makes me feel the next day, even after only a couple. But the amount of grief I get when I say I'm not drinking is unbelievable, people seem to assume that I'm pregnant or something's wrong with me etc when actually, it just isn't for me. So whilst my reasons for not drinking are different (and I will have the occasional drink, I've had 2 ciders since Dec 2022) I am in the same boat and fully understand. Also fully support the sober life, keep it up and ignore everyone else!

AgnesX · 01/02/2024 09:52

It's really bad if people are trying to persuade you to drink when you're driving.

At work events my boss wandered around with a full glass .... the same glass... all night. Could you just pretend in that environment. Everywhere else water the plants?

That, or bite your tongue and just say you don't drink any longer as it doesn't agree with you.

ZekeZeke · 01/02/2024 09:52

Firstly, congratulations!
I gave up alcohol 7 years ago as, like you I was drinking too much and recognised it was becoming an issue.
I think some people question their own drinking habits when a friend gives up and it can make them feel uncomfortable.

If they are true friends and care about you, they will be supportive. If they ridicule you, then cut them out of your life. You don't need negative people around you during the challenging times ahead.
And amazingly well done you.

DifficultBloodyWoman · 01/02/2024 09:53

Did you mention going alcohol free to them? If so, I think people see it as self deprivation and a bit of a challenge get you to ‘enjoy yourself’ again.

DH has been sober for 5+ years. He never really told anyone outside family that he joined AA. I’m pretty sure that most of our friends haven’t realised he doesn’t drink alcohol. For a recent big birthday, he received a number of bottles of champagne! He chooses to be the designated driver when we go out and that has always been seen as an acceptable ‘excuse’.

But that is his/my/our personal experience…outside the UK. I suspect more people would have noticed if we were still in the UK and using public transport.

WandaWonder · 01/02/2024 09:55

I just tell people I don't feel like drinking at the event at the time, sure the one before I may and I may at the next one but if I don't want a drink I don't have one if they have a problem that is on them

This word seems to need to be practiced by people but just say no

Arghgerroffyabastard · 01/02/2024 09:56

I gave up the booze about ten years ago, and initially I had the same problem. It got a lot easier when I got comfortable with telling people the truth.

q: Why aren’t you drinking?
a: I’ve given it up. It’s just not something that works for me.
q: oh…? How do you mean?
a: I didn’t have a drinking problem, per se, but I could see that I might develop one. The whole thing was just taking up too much room in my life and head, so it’s better for me if I just let it go.

Once they knew that I was doing it for my own well-being, they respected it, and even expressed admiration, in a lot of cases.

Andthereyougo · 01/02/2024 09:57

I don’t drink because peri menopause made alcohol hate me.
Can you blame this and say projectile vomiting isn’t pretty so you’d rather not?

SonicAllanKey · 01/02/2024 09:59

It’s frustrating that the attitude is so prevalent and is impacting you so much. Stopping altogether, and acknowledging that this is what’s best for you, shows great strength.

i do think it’s slowly changing. Our local rural pub now sticks a variety of non alcoholic beers and a gin. I know many more people who choose not to drink at events so they can drive. And in my circle people don’t seem to care much anymore. But we’ve a few people our way who’ve given up.

as a PP said, if you’re among the first in your group of friends and family to wind it in you’re probably making them challenge their own attitude to alcohol and they’re a bit defensive. Stick to your guns, you e done the hard bit.

BigPussyEnergy · 01/02/2024 09:59

This is 100% a “them” problem. Anyone who is uncomfortable being around you without you drinking clearly has issues of their own. People can be weird.

I often drive if I don't feel like drinking and it’s noticeable how annoying my friends are when they’re drunk and I’m not! They often try and get me to join in, saying we’ll get a cab home etc as they don’t like the fact that I’m not drinking. It’s very odd.

BigPussyEnergy · 01/02/2024 10:02

Argh has a good turn of phrase. I think that’s how my DP views it too although his consumption was definitely problematic, he didn’t consider himself an alcoholic. He just knew he shouldn’t drink again.

GasPanic · 01/02/2024 10:04

There is a certain type out there who refuse to acknowledge personal boundaries on drinking.

Normally the "get the rounds in" type who believe that everyone should drink to their level, or at least if not be willing to fund their level of drinking.

Anyone who decides they are not for group drunkeness is derided, mainly because they are a threat to the "get the rounds in"'s drinking consumption and finances.

If someone isn't willing to accept that you don't want to drink alcohol and you want to get your own drink rather than fund theirs after a few days of reinforcement then ditch them and don't look back.

ellie09 · 01/02/2024 10:11

The thing is, I am a very outgoing and sociable person without alcohol so it isn't exactly needed. In fact, I seem to be a worse person to be around WITH alcohol.

In the past, I was always the drunk friend who did crazy or silly things so I think they are just holding onto that perspective.

I did tell my mum to let family members know not to buy me wine etc for birthdays which she has done.

Ive been to all my friends' weddings and didnt drink as I was on my own and couldn't afford the accommodation etc. So I know I can do events sober as well.

I'll probably just need to change up what I say in response. Luckily, once the work colleague leaves, I dont plan to keep in touch (they are a BIG drinker)

OP posts:
LindorDoubleChoc · 01/02/2024 10:11

I honestly don't know anyone like your work colleagues or your spa friends. No one I know would question why someone isn't drinking on any given occasion. If you just said I've decided to stop drinking alcohol some might express mild interest, but absolutely not try to persuade you to have a drink. You need to move in more intelligent circles.

Your mother kind of has a point though. Perhaps a prosecco tasting tour isn't the perfect choice of holiday for someone who isn't going to be drinking prosecco. Maybe you should bow out of that one.

ellie09 · 01/02/2024 10:13

LindorDoubleChoc · 01/02/2024 10:11

I honestly don't know anyone like your work colleagues or your spa friends. No one I know would question why someone isn't drinking on any given occasion. If you just said I've decided to stop drinking alcohol some might express mild interest, but absolutely not try to persuade you to have a drink. You need to move in more intelligent circles.

Your mother kind of has a point though. Perhaps a prosecco tasting tour isn't the perfect choice of holiday for someone who isn't going to be drinking prosecco. Maybe you should bow out of that one.

I have already researched and there is an alcohol free option for the tour, so I told them I will be doing that one but apparently it'll be a buzzkill for everyone else 😂🫣

OP posts:
Deathbyfluffy · 01/02/2024 10:16

I've had this before - I'm a drinker, but I take time out regularly as I recognise I have an addictive personality so it could be an issue at some point.

All I get is 'come on, just have one' or 'it's my birthday, you have to have a few' - very annoying!
I do enjoy a drink, but when it's my choice to do so.

ComtesseDeSpair · 01/02/2024 10:17

I don’t recognise this at all to be honest, so I don’t think it’s all of society, just where you happen to live and the people you know. I know so many people who don’t drink for religious reasons, or for health benefits, or because they’ve joined the sobriety movement. Every pub and bar in my area has an enormous range of alcohol free beers and mocktails on the menu and seems to do a roaring trade in them. If somebody in my social groups says they aren’t drinking they might be asked whether that’s for a temporary reason or always, but after that it’s just not noteworthy.

Maybe the refusal to accept that anybody could simply choose not to drink alcohol is a smaller town mentality? I do notice when I leave London and am in small towns it can be virtually impossible to find a pub which stocks non-a beer.

MassageForLife · 01/02/2024 10:18

That's annoying. Maybe tell them you think you are allergic to something in alcohol (it's a thing, my friend is allergic to many wines because of, iirc, sulphites) and that it really makes you feel awful.

Hopefully they might take something like that on board.

MassageForLife · 01/02/2024 10:19

ComtesseDeSpair · 01/02/2024 10:17

I don’t recognise this at all to be honest, so I don’t think it’s all of society, just where you happen to live and the people you know. I know so many people who don’t drink for religious reasons, or for health benefits, or because they’ve joined the sobriety movement. Every pub and bar in my area has an enormous range of alcohol free beers and mocktails on the menu and seems to do a roaring trade in them. If somebody in my social groups says they aren’t drinking they might be asked whether that’s for a temporary reason or always, but after that it’s just not noteworthy.

Maybe the refusal to accept that anybody could simply choose not to drink alcohol is a smaller town mentality? I do notice when I leave London and am in small towns it can be virtually impossible to find a pub which stocks non-a beer.

Edited

I'm not sure moving to a bigger town and binning friends and family is the best answer to this though.

Coolblur · 01/02/2024 10:19

All three of those say far more about them than you, though I probably wouldn't go on the prosecco tour because that's obviously centred around drinking alcohol.

You're likely very sensitive to others' opinions just now. I rarely drink, not because I have an issue with it, but because someone close to me does have a problem, and I've know what it can do to a person and those who love them. No one says anything because I don't make a thing of it.
My suggestion would be to do similar. Don't say you're not drinking, just don't drink. Drive if you want to, decline invitations if you don't want to go. If anyone pushes you to drink say you're up early the next day/driving in the morning/on a health kick etc etc.
Alcohol loves company, but it's no one's friend.

Hankunamatata · 01/02/2024 10:19

I just don't tell people. I buy my own drinks, don't do rounds and get tonic water with ice so no one questions.

ADoggyDogWorld · 01/02/2024 10:20

There is definitely a drinking culture.

We see it here on MN: you must be boring at parties, yawn, etc.

People do see teetotalism/alcohol free living as a challenge, something to be mocked and despised. It is very strange.

Sususudio · 01/02/2024 10:21

Dh does not drink, and everyone thinks he is an alcoholic! It's not for religious reasons either. He just prefers to have his calories in other forms, and does not like the taste. I only drink socially and stop after one drink. I can do without it.

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