alternative methods of recovery

Learn to Say No in Sobriety: Stand Up for Yourself

One of the hardest things a person needs to after rehab is learn how to say no. Although completing an addiction treatment program is never easy, it’s often said that the real work of recovery begins after getting out of rehab.

In an alcohol or drug rehab, it’s not as difficult to resist the temptation to relapse since being in rehab offers separation from the outside world and, consequently, the people, places, things, and situations that would tempt a person to use.

In other words, being in rehab allows people to get sober during a period of time when they’d be much more likely to relapse if confronted with any of their triggers. It’s only once they’ve acquired the knowledge, strategies, and skills to resist temptation that they finally return home; or at least that’s the intent.

Unfortunately, there are many people who return home from rehab before they’re completely ready. That’s not to say that they couldn’t have remained sober if they wanted to, but in some cases people either don’t remain in rehab for a long enough period of time, don’t choose the right treatments and therapies, or their homes are places where it’s particularly difficult to remain sober.

Whatever the case, individuals who return home from rehab and quickly begin to experience temptation to return to alcohol and/or drug use should try to focus on ways to resist. Specifically, one would need to learn to say no in these situations.

Being “Too Nice” Isn’t Worth the Risk

There are some people who find it difficult to turn others down. When they’re asked for favors or to do things they don’t want to do, they feel they must agree or else they’ll risk offending the other person or cause the person to become angry or want to end the relationship.

It’s often because of insecurity that a person doesn’t want to decline others’ requests, but when it comes to a recovering addict’s sobriety, being “too nice” means sacrificing newfound sobriety. It’s just not worth the risk. As such, it’s important for such individuals to learn how to be able to turn others down while being respectful and courteous.

Don’t Apologize

As mentioned above, it’s important to be respectful and courteous when declining a person’s request or offer as this is how to ensure that one doesn’t offend the other person by saying no. However, a person who has politely declined another’s request or offer should also resist the urge to apologize.

By apologizing, a person is expressing regret and hesitance, which gives the impression that the individual could be easily coerced into doing what he or she had previously declined. Therefore, don’t apologize for feeling that it’s in one’s best interest to simply say no.


There’s probably no one who hasn’t heard the expression “practice makes perfect,” and that could similarly be said for saying no to things that are self-destructive. A person needing to practice saying no will find that there are often many opportunities in a day for a person to decline something that he or she dislikes or doesn’t want to do. It would be a good idea to ask one’s loved ones for help with this, too.

Learn to Say No to Superiors When It’s Necessary

One of the main instances in which a person will want to learn to say no is to their boss or superiors at work.

An example of when a person should want to decline a boss’s request is when the boss wants to give the person additional work, but the employee already has a very heavy workload. In such an instance, it’s much better to decline the additional work than to fall behind and have projects becoming late.

In fact, a boss would likely respect someone knowing their limits more than someone who could take on an extra project.

Always Be Aware of Your Priorities

After completing an addiction treatment program, the recovery process isn’t over. A person must continue to remain focused on abstinence and remaining sober. Fortunately, recovery gets easier with time, but it still requires a person to have an ongoing awareness of his or her priorities. This awareness of priorities is almost an amalgam of all other pieces of advice mentioned here and is going to essentially be the reason why a person says no.

Remember That Time Is a Non-Renewable Commodity

When we’re young, we feel like we have all the time in the world. Then we develop addictions and spend years or even decades abusing alcohol or drugs on a daily basis. It’s after beginning the recovery process that a person is likely to begin thinking about the time that has been lost to active addiction.

But once a person begins to feel cravings or is offered alcohol or drugs, they begin to forget about how being in active addiction is tantamount to a sacrifice of time. As such, one should remember that time is a non-renewable commodity. If for no other reason, one should learn to say no in order to keep from sacrificing any more time to the disease of addiction.

Take the Time to Think Things Through

Making an informed decision can sometimes be quite quick, taking little time for a person to consider all the variables and choose the right solution. However, there are inevitably going to be many situations in which making a decision isn’t so obvious.

In these instances, it’s important to take the time to really think through both or every option. It may be difficult when cravings or temptation are a factor, but when a person in recovery considers a situation objectively, it shouldn’t be difficult to say no if that is, in fact, the best response.

Let Us Help You Get Your Life Back

If you or someone you love would benefit from a free consultation with one of our recovery specialists, call Drug Treatment Center Finder at 855-619-8070. Whether it’s day or night, we’re always available to help you or your loved one regain independence, health, and a happy life.