How To Navigate Drinking Culture as a Non-Drinker

How to break free from the social pressures of alcohol

Tomasz Dobrowolski
5 min readApr 18


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Social drinking is at the core of many cultures around the world.

Whether it’s drinking a few beers with friends or getting drunk at a random work outing, alcohol is always the main event.

But when you decide enough is enough with alcohol. How do you navigate a world where drinking is so ingrained into every social event?

The issues with staying sober in a drunk world

Where I am based in the UK, drinking is at the forefront of every social occasion. If you are not drinking, there must be something wrong with you.

You either have to be religious, a recovering alcoholic or have a health condition to get a free pass from drinking.

But if you just don’t enjoy drinking. Coming out as a non-drinker will alienate your friends and family.

Explaining that you do not enjoy hangovers does not work, as everyone has to suffer from a hangover after drinking. In fact, a hangover is a badge of honor to say:

“Look how much I drank last night, I can barely get out of bed.”

But not all of us see a few hours of drinking in exchange for a two-day hangover as a worthy trade.

When navigating this world, I have come up with many excuses:

  • Having to get up early the next day.
  • Advised by my doctor not to drink.
  • Being on antibiotics.

But I have found these excuses are too short-term. The aim is to never have to drink socially again.

How to turn into a non-drinker at social events for good

Not drinking is easy, but getting your friends to accept your decision is the most challenging part.

Stick to your decision confidently and do not make a big deal out of it

When you first announce that you are not drinking, there may be some wide eyes with inquisitive looks.



Tomasz Dobrowolski

I break down Software Engineering and Tech concepts | Backend Engineer 🐘