What Are Refusal Skills?
When working a program of recovery for alcohol-use disorders, there are situations when you might feel like you need some extra support. Even those who are committed to not drinking can experience social pressure to drink. Friends can make it somewhat difficult for you especially if they do not know you are in recovery.
It is a good idea to be prepared if these situations ever arise. In cognitive-behavioral therapy there is an approach called recognize-avoid-cope, which can help change unhelpful thoughts.
There are two types of pressure including direct and indirect social pressure. Direct social pressure occurs when someone offers you a drink. Indirect social pressure occurs when you might feel tempted to drink simply by being around others who are drinking.
For recovering alcoholics, it is best to avoid pressure whenever possible. The problem with this though is it might not be realistic unless you avoid all situations where alcohol will be served. It might be best to ease yourself into situations that you might have avoided early in your recovery. If you need to talk with other friends in recovery, it would be a good idea to do so before you attend the event. You could also suggest activities to your friends that do not involve alcohol. There are many to choose from.
If you find yourself at an event where alcohol is present, practice saying no thank you. You are not obligated to explain why you are choosing not to drink and try not to offer excuses. A simple, yet firm no thanks will suffice. You might also try to think of some answers ahead of time if you suspect that someone will probe into your refusing a drink. You can simply respond that you are trying to get healthy and be done with it.
It can be difficult to say no the first few times but it can get easier. You can even practice in situations that do not involve alcohol. If someone offers you coffee or tea, practice, and simply say no, thank you.
Another great strategy is to take a recovering friend with you to these social situations until you feel more comfortable on your own. If you go alone and find that the urges are too strong, walk away and call your sponsor. Once you have some time in recovery, you can always ask your friends to stop asking you if you wish to have a drink. If they do not respect this, then think about accepting invitations from these friends in the future.
Recovery is about you and your choice not to drink. Challenge your thoughts about not being invited out again versus your desire to not drink no matter what.