How to deal with Abstinence Saboteurs

I have a few questions that I would like you to answer with yes or no.

Is there someone in your life who:
* Knows you are trying to cut out alcohol, yet continues to offer it?
* Envies your resolve and would like to see you drinking again?
* Drinks tempting cocktails in front of you?
* Teases or criticizes you for trying to be alcohol free?

If you answered ”yes” to any of these questions, guess what? You have someone in your life who is influencing you to drink. Abstinence saboteurs come in many forms. Some are unconscious of their actions; they are just being a good host or hostess, or this is the way they have always shown love. But on the other hand, some may be jealous of your changes, or they may be afraid they will lose you as you shift your lifestyle. They are consciously sabotaging your efforts to #LoseDaBooze. Let’s develop a plan to reduce the control that these people have and perhaps turn them into your biggest support

After answering the questions earlier, you probably already have a good idea of the people in your life who are unconsciously or consciously trying to sabotage your efforts to cut out or cut down on drinking. Here are some ideas on how to gain back the control.

If a person is pushing drinks:

  • Be consistent and committed. Let them know you are doing a challenge or choosing to be AF permanently. Don’t waiver on your decision to refuse a drink as it only sends mixed messages.
  • Just say no. ”No, thank you.” ”No, I have my water .”
  • Have scripted responses ready. ”I’m doing an alcohol free challenge.” or “I’m not drinking for medical reasons.”
  • Avoid the person. If possible, stay away from the drink-pushers in your life. Early on in sobriety, you may have to distance yourself from the usual hang outs and friends who are still drinking.
  • Ask for help. Let the person know other things they can do to show they care and support your decision to be AF.

Asking for help and obtaining support:

  • Ask the person not to offer alcohol.
  • Enjoy doing activities together that don’t involve drinking.
  • Ask for their understanding and support.
  • Ask them to become an exercise buddy. Take the focus off alcohol and place it on health
  • Thank them for their help when possible, and compliment them in front of another person.

Dealing with a drink saboteur may be one of the hardest parts of going alcohol free. This person is usually a close friend, family member, or co-worker. It is often difficult to speak up for yourself, but it is important not to let other people control what, how much, or when you drink. If you have tried several strategies and this person continues to sabotage your efforts, you may have to see them less often, or take time to really evaluate your relationship.

As special note that I would like to make: If the saboteur is a spouse of a close family member, or there are other controlling aspects going on in the relationship, you may find that you need outside, professional help in dealing with the situation.

Action Step:
Identify a person who is not supporting your efforts to cut out alcohol. Develop a step-by-step plan to deal with this person.
Remember, your main goal is to stay alcohol free (or stay committed to the challenge you signed up for).

Speaking of challenges – why not consider joining Alcohol Free August or 100 Days of Alcohol Freedom. For more info visit:

You can also opt to join one of the FREE groups. Getting the support from people who ‘get it’ will help you succeed in achieving your AF goals!


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