How to Say No When Others Pressurise You into Drinking

It’s Saturday night in Cardiff…
A rugby team strolls into a pub. After a tough match on a rain-lashed, windswept quagmire, fifteen strapping lads are now showered, dressed, reeking of Paco Rabanne, and bent on having a rip-roaring night on the town.

“Fourteen pints of your very strongest lager, Publican,” Owen, the lantern-jawed, cauliflower-eared, beast of a prop forward says. “And a small organic pear juice, please.”
“Who’s the sissy pear juice for, mate,” the publican replies. “Your minibus driver?”
“No, it’s for me, pal,” Owen snaps back, grabbing him by the throat, lifting him a foot from the floor. “You gotta problem with that?”

And now imagine witnessing this little scenario (you may even recognise yourself as one of the dramatis personae here, ladies)…

Five office girls hit their local bar after work
It’s been a long day. The computers have been playing up. The boss has had a face like a bulldog licking a nettle. Kerry, a lovely girl who has spent most of the day fretting about her weight problems, buys the first round: “A gin and tonic, a rum and coke, two large glasses of chilled Sauvignon Blanc, and a Skinny Latte for me, please, barman.”
The barman smirks. “I don’t think I’d ever associate you with the word Skinny, luv.”
Nonchalantly, Kerry slaps the barman across the face. His glass eye pops out. His toupee goes flying.
“If you were a man, I’d kill you for that!” he squeals.
“And if you were a man,’ Kerry calmly replies. “I’d be worried.”

But for teetotal Owen and Kerry, bar staff remarks aren’t the half of it. When it comes to feeling pressurised into drinking alcohol, it’s their ‘mates’ who are the problem; something we’ll elaborate on after this:

Did you know? Women’s bodies react to alcohol in a different way to men’s. Women have on average 10 per cent more fat than men, which means there’s less body fluid to dilute alcohol, so it travels around their bodies in more concentrated form and causes more harm.1

“Go on – have a proper drink”
The pressure from others to drink alcohol can often feel overwhelming, can’t it? Human nature being what it is, we all want to fit in, to be one of the lads, one of the girls, one of the gang. But what if you are trying to reduce your alcohol consumption, or are even on a rehabilitation treatment programme (link is that you desperately want to complete? Do comments like these mean you can’t go out to a pub or bar (or to a party) ever again:

“An orange juice? What are you, a pansy?”
“Are you too good to drink with the likes of us then?”
“Look, are you one of the girls or not, Naomi?”
“Do you come out with us just to laugh at and feel better than your drunk friends?”

Not easy, is it? Especially if replies like these simply don’t work:

“Not for me, thanks.”
“I just don’t feel like it.”
“I’m on medication at the moment.”
“I’ve got work in the morning.”
“Alcohol doesn’t agree with me, to be honest.”
‘I’ll just have a soft drink, thanks.”
“I’m a reformed alcoholic.”
‘I’ll pass this time, if you don’t mind.”

But in every social group there is always one persistent character who simply won’t take No for an answer, isn’t there? With them, you could try changing your tone, being more assertive by making unequivocal statements about how:

You don’t want an alcoholic drink
You won’t be drinking tonight
You, and you alone, have a right to make that decision
And how:
It’s OK to drink. It’s OK not to drink. And so, this evening, you’ll be opting for the latter. “Got it?”

And if all that doesn’t work?

Change your friends

Are you struggling with alcoholism (or drug addiction) and want to do something about it? Contact the rehab experts.


I could not stop drinking, having tried various methods. After making contact with Rehab Treatment UK I was put at ease immediately. All my options were carefully explained and 2 days later admitted to Rehab. Without the speedy response I would probably still be drinking today, Already, the home is a happier place. Thank you Jane for starting the process for a life of sobriety.
B. Middlesex

Thank you to Rehab Treatment UK and everyone at the Clinic that was involved in my Detox. It has been hard, but the fun everyone has made it, helped to make it easier.
S. Hull