Say No to Alcohol: 7 Easy Ways to Avoid Underage Drinking Without Feeling Weird


Social media may show you a picture of your peers partying and making friends while drinking alcohol underage and make all of that seem normal. However, that’s not the truth. The truth is that more teenagers and young adults are choosing to stay sober. You don’t need to drink alcohol to fit in or to make friends, and there are plenty of strategies to enjoy social events without succumbing to the pressure to drink alcohol. Here’s how you can avoid alcohol in high school without feeling weird and still make friends.

1. Realize Underage Drinking is ‘Mid’

More and more young people are choosing to wait to drink alcohol until they reach the legal age of 21. In fact, research proves this. According to a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the prevalence of teens using alcohol in the past 30 days dropped by more than 47% for teens 12-20 from 2002 to 2022.

Even celebrities are ditching drinking. It’s well known that famous faces like Tom Holland and Zendaya say no to alcohol. Other celebs not drinking include Jack Harlow, Miley Cyrus, and Lewis Hamilton.

College athletes in North Carolina also refrain from drinking alcohol to maintain peak performance. UNC men’s basketball player Seth Trimble told Talk it Out NC, “I think choosing not to drink as an underage athlete has really helped me significantly because I’ve been able to focus and keep my priorities straight. It’s helped me separate myself from many other people.”

2. Create a Support System

It’s easier to say no to alcohol with support. Trimble says his support system to help navigate peer pressure includes his family, friends, teammates, and coaches. Surrounding yourself with a positive support system can help you abstain from alcohol and help in other areas of life.

With a group of sober friends, you can attend events where there may be peer pressure and be better able to navigate the situation together. You can lean on each other for support and find alternatives to drinking alcohol at a party. When you know someone is in your corner, you may not feel backed into one.

3. Be Honest and Straightforward

If you do find yourself in a social situation where alcohol is present, remember that as more young people avoid underage drinking, it becomes easier to say no to alcohol without it becoming a big deal. Don’t feel awkward or get defensive. Just say, “I’m not drinking tonight” and leave it at that. You’ll find others aren’t as interested in you having a cocktail as you might think.

4. Keep a Non-Alcoholic Beverage in Your Hand

Are you at a party where everyone is drinking out of red plastic cups? Grab one and fill it up with a mocktail, water, or soda. You’ll find that having a cup in your hand makes it less likely that someone will offer you another drink. Now you’re at ease and can concentrate on having fun!

5. Be a DD

Being a designated driver not only helps everyone get home safely, it’s also a great excuse to not drink alcohol at a party or event. No one can argue with someone who’s making sure everyone gets home safely!

6. Take the Focus Off of Alcohol

Chat about news and activities that don’t revolve around alcohol. Strike up a conversation about sports, movies, books, or other topics that are interesting to you. This takes the focus off alcohol and puts it on subjects that are more interesting for everyone.

7. Text ‘X’

Talk with your parents or guardians about creating a Text X Plan. It’s a quick text — just an “X” — to a trusted adult when you’re in a tight spot or feeling peer pressure at a party. They’ll know to come get you, send you an excuse, or provide you with a quick exit strategy. No interrogation, just a fast, safe ride home. It’s your secret code for “Help!”

Underage drinking can come with legal, academic, career, and health consequences. By waiting to drink, you’ll make sure you’re not limiting the amount of fun, memories, and opportunities you can enjoy before you turn 21.

Start the Conversation about avoiding underage drinking with your friends and family today!