Texas Tech University

Saying No: A Guide to Abstaining from Alcohol and Drugs

Miranda Wilson, Peer Educator

January 15th, 2021

no thank you bag


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Sometimes it can feel like everyone around you is partaking in alcohol or drugs because isn't that what part of the college experience is all about? Not exactly! The numbers show that this is simply not that case. According to an anonymous survey from February of 2020, 20% of Texas Tech students have never tried alcohol. Additionally, 60% of Red Raiders have never tried marijuana and 91% of our students have never tried cocaine. Even if it seems like everyone is doing it, the truth is that most people aren't.

When it comes to alcohol or drugs, you never need a reason to abstain. If the people around you react negatively to the decisions you make about what you put in your body, they might not be the right people for you in the long run. However, in the short term it can be easier to "say no" when you can come up with a reason why you are abstaining from substance use.

Here are some ways you can say no to alcohol or drugs:

"No, thanks."
Adding in a polite-ism, like thanks or thank you, can make your refusal appear more friendly.

"I'm staying sober."
Being sober is not only a great choice to make for your health, but also a short and simple way to explain your abstinence that doesn't warrant follow up questions.

"I'm good, bro."
Short. Simple. Sweet. Casual. Love it.

"I don't like the taste."
A lot of people don't like the taste of alcohol, and that's totally okay! If you don't like the taste of pineapple on pizza, you wouldn't eat it even if was offered to you. Same goes for alcohol.

"I have a test tomorrow."
The process of "sobering up" from alcohol or drugs can be long and have many side effects. This could interfere with anything you have scheduled for the next day, like a major test.

"I have to take a drug test for work."
A lot of jobs require drug tests to be hired. If you are currently looking for work or in the process of being hired at a new job, it is extra important to abstain from drug use. Some drugs can stay in your system for months, so it is totally reasonable to err on the safe side and just say no.

"I'm the designated driver."
Designated drivers are so important when people are drinking or consuming drugs. If you are the designated driver for your friends, you have to stay sober to keep your promise to keep everyone safe. Period.

"I don't want to."
If you don't want to consume alcohol or drugs, you don't have to consume alcohol or drugs. It's literally that simple!

"I need to make sure you stay safe."
If you are with someone that is consuming too much alcohol or drugs, they might need your help to get medical attention or just take care of them. It's better to be safe than sorry and, if there isn't a designated driver or certified party parent, you can definitely step into that role.

"My family has a history of addiction."
If you have a family history of addiction, you may want to avoid addicting substances like alcohol or drugs. This isn't anything to be ashamed of! If you had a family history of heart diabetes, you might try to avoid sugary foods and drinks. It's the exact same thing.

You can always just say no. No explanation should be required.

"Uh-uh not for me."
Throw a little sass into it! Alcohol and drugs may not be for you, and that's cool.

"No way, Jose."
This one works especially well if the person you're talking to is named Jose.

"I have work in the morning."
A lot of people in college work on the weekend, and their hours may not be normal. I used to work at 6 am when I was a barista; a friend of mine works the graveyard shift at one of the residence halls. No one wants to be hungover at work!

"I'm underage."
Underage drinking is no joke. According to the TABC webpage, a first offense of underage drinking can result in a class C misdemeanor, a fine of up to $500, a mandatory alcohol awareness class, 8-40 hours of community service, and a 30-180 day loss of your driver's license. It's not worth the risk!

"I'm gonna go home now..."
If a situation is making you uncomfortable, one of the best things you can do is leave. Go home and play with your cat, watch some Netflix, or do whatever you'd like to reset and feel comfortable.

"My Uber's here."
Uber, Lyft, or TapRide are all safe no-questions-asked ways to get home at the end of the night. If your ride is here, say no and say goodbye.

"I don't want to, but I don't mind that you are."
Maybe your friends are into drinking and you aren't. That's cool. You can still have fun with them even if you aren't partaking. This one can be useful to let your friends know that you aren't judging their choices, just making different ones.

"I don't like how I act when I'm drunk/high."
A lot of people act differently when they are under the influence. In fact, 22% of Tech students reported doing something they regretted in the past 12 months while under the influence. Alcohol and drugs alter your brain chemistry, and you might not like how you act when you are drunk or high.

"Nah, that's illegal."
Breaking the law is a serious thing. Taking or possessing illicit drugs is illegal and there can be serious consequences for breaking that law. Refer to our blog post "Where's it legal" for more information about marijuana laws in Texas and the United States.

"I'm allergic!"
Did you know that people can be allergic or intolerant to alcohol or its ingredients? For example, most beers contain wheat, barley, or rye, which means that they are not gluten-free. People with gluten allergies or intolerances may need to abstain from drinking gluten-based beers.

At the end of the day, what you do with your body is your choice and your choice alone. If you want to (legally and safely) consume alcohol, that is your valid decision! If you want to say no, RISE hopes that you'll use this guide for inspiration the next time you decline an offer of alcohol or drugs.

If someone refuses to accept your decision to abstain from substance use and becomes aggressive or violent, you can always contact law enforcement. Your safety is the most important thing! Be safe and smart, Red Raiders!