Preventing Alcohol Relapses at Parties: Helpful Tips

Preventing alcohol relapses at parties can be a concern. Not only for non-drinkers but also for other guests and hosts. Here are tips for non-drinkers, drinkers, and hosts. Preventing relapses should be everyone’s concern.

For Guests Who Don’t Drink: Preventing Alcohol Relapses at Parties

Tell your spouse or friend before you go to a party that alcohol may tempt you. Explain that you need to be able to leave the party on a moments notice. And you may need to do so without explaining why to anyone. You can always have another place you must go.


alcohol relapses at partiesWhen you arrive at the gathering tell your host that you can probably only stay for a short time. Say that you will know later after you make a phone call. Then you feel free to leave if you need to. What usually happens is that you have a great time because there’s no pressure to stay.

If someone offers a drink, say “What a good idea. Do you have cola or soda-water with lemon?” This allows you to say yes and get what you want as well. Very few people will press anything alcoholic on you. If they do simply say “Not right now thank you, but a coke would really hit the spot.”1


Always remember that you

  • Shouldn’t feel obligated to accept a drink just because it’s offered to you.
  • Can “lose” drinks that you don’t want. For example, set them down and later walk away.
  • Can drink non-alcoholic drinks that look like alcoholic ones. For example, tomato juice, lemonade, iced tea, or water with ice cubes. Pehaps club soda with orange juice, tonic water with a wedge of lime, and either orange juice or 7-Up with grenadine.
  • Should stay away from people who give you a hard time about not drinking.
  • Will find that saying “no” gets easier the more you do it. Practice refusing drinks politely. Or say something clever.

“I don’t need any more hair on my chest.”

“I’m performing neurosurgery in the morning.”

“It sloshes too much when I jog.”

Or just “No thank you.” 2

For Guests Who Drink: Help in Preventing Alcohol Relapses by Others

Never push drinks on anyone who declines. Choosing to abstain and choosing to drink in moderation are both equally acceptable options for adults.

Don’t assume that everyone should be drinking alcohol. And don’t assume that there’s something wrong with those who choose not to drink.

Never ask why someone isn’t drinking. That assumes that they should be drinking. Why they aren’t isn’t our business.

For Hosts: Preventing Alcohol Relapses at Parties

Don’t be self-conscious about having a guest who doesn’t drink.

Tips for Hosts

The Caron Foundation offers these “recovery etiquette” tips
for thoughtful hosts.

  • Feel free to serve alcohol beverages at your gathering. Don’t plan your party around a guest who abstains.
  • It’s no big deal if someone at your party is abstaining. There are many reasons people don‘t drink alcohol. If someone declines a drink, don’t ask why.
  • Include non-alcoholic beverages in your offerings. Stock your bar with sparkling water and cider, soft drinks, and juices.
  • If you’re serving an alcoholic beverage with a meal, offer a non-alcoholic alternative as well.
  • Let guests know which foods and beverages contain alcohol.
  • Remember that even foods cooked with alcoholic beverages generally contain some residual alcohol. 3 Some alcoholics may choose to avoid them.

Preventing alcohol relapses at parties can be part of both attending and hosting them.

Party on… thoughtfully!


1. White, H. Recovery During the Holidays.

2. Poliafico, F. Abstinence is not the only answer. RN -Montvale, 1999, 62(1),  58-60

3. Caron Foundation.

Note: Neither this website nor your host receives any benefit for referencing the Caron Foundation. Referencing does not imply endorsement.