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Non-Drinker Called Out For Calling Themselves ‘Sober’ In Front Of A Former Alcoholic Coworker

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People don’t care if you don’t eat ketchup, or don’t like burgers, but they sure have a lot of opinions if you don’t like alcohol.

People should be allowed to drink or not drink whatever they want, and no one is entitled to an explanation.

Redditor uber765 encountered this very issue with their coworker. So they turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.

They asked:

“AITA for appropriating the word sober?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“This happened on Friday.”

“My coworkers were planning on going out to a bar after work to have some drinks together. I don’t particularly like to drink or go out with coworkers and I’ve learned the easiest way to get out of it is just to tell whoever invited me ‘thanks, but I’m 2 years sober now.'”

“Nobody has ever tried to pressure me into going when I say that, unlike when I try to make a different excuse and then my old coworkers are just like, ‘come on, we’ll get you an Uber, it’ll be fun…’ yadda yadda.”

“Saying I’m ‘sober’ immediately shuts them down.”

OP’s coworker did not agree.

“Anyways, another coworker overhears congratulated me on 2 years of sobriety and told me she just celebrated her first year. I quickly and quietly told her that I wasn’t really an addict I just say that because people don’t ask me anymore after I say that, but I did congratulate her on her year.”

“She said that I’m an a**hole for appropriating language when I don’t actually suffer from addiction and that saying I’m ‘sober’ takes away from those who are actually addicts.”

“I told her I’m not using it to seek validation or anything, it’s just the best way to shut down coworkers asking me out for drinks.”

“Should I not use that term anymore or is my coworker overreacting?”

OP added some edits.

“Edit: Thank you all for the kind words and criticism.”

“From this point on I will be more assertive and honest when telling my coworkers (or anyone for that matter) that most of the time I really just do not want a drink.”

“As for the coworker who confided in me, I will let her know that while I may not exactly be in her shoes, I will fully support her and back her up if she ever feels pressure at work like I do. I was honestly surprised to see this many mixed reactions.”

Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors were conflicted about who was at fault.


“I don’t necessarily think that either of you are in the wrong. You are using very specific language ‘sober for two years’ that does typically denote being in recovery. Many people in the recovery community are protective of that verbiage, because it does carry a lot of weight for them.”

“This is also something that people outside of the community may not know and may not understand why some might find it disingenuous to use in your circumstances.”

“What I may suggest, moving forward, would be to simply state that you are sober or a sober individual when declining. It’s still true (you are not someone who drinks), but doesn’t have such a definite tie to the recovery community.” ~ blergmachine327

“You could also tell people you’re a teetotaler (someone who doesn’t drink). Not tied to the recovery community and accurately describes you.”

“I mean technically you ARE sober (as in anyone who is currently not under the influence is sober), but when you’re in a situation and electing not to imbibe the correct verbiage is indeed ‘teetotaler’ (you) or ‘teetotaling’ (the act of not drinking).” ~ Natural_Cranberry761

“It does not work. My fiance doesn’t drink (he has an allergy) and just saying ‘I do not drink’ without a reason they consider valid will make a lot of people just pressure him more.”

“Alcohol is deeply ingrained in are society and many people view someone else not drinking as judgement. Does it make sense? No, but my fiance who can’t even use hand sanitizer sometimes literally has to say he’s sober, because people think he’s lying about his allergy.” ~ Wrong-Construction40

It is not incorrect, but definitely not accurate either.

“My mom has spent years trying to get it through to her work friends that she doesn’t drink. Not that she doesn’t drink on weekdays, or for lunch, or except for holidays; that she does not consume alcohol and has not in over a DECADE.”

“After the first one or two times she has to tell somebody she switches to ‘I’m sorry was the sentence ‘I don’t drink’ confusing to you?’” ~ blackbirdflying

“I very very rarely drink – and the phrase that has worked best for me is the complete truth: I’m not supposed to drink on my meds. Occasionally I’ll get some ass who tries poking into what meds I’m on and I just give them a big-eyed horrified look until they shut their pie hole.” ~ Gennywren

“Yeah my bf cannot drink(not that he would much anyway – he is not a fan of alcohol).”

“I just tell them how he has a bad liver and is on liver medication and they just leave it. We still go out, he is a drummer so drinking and drugs are around him all the time. Thankfully most of the people I know he has toured with are either sober themselves (for other reasons) or don’t put pressure on him.” ~ tiffanylockhart

“Back in college, I had to very specifically say why I can’t drink alcohol to get them to stop.”

“‘If I have half a beer, my heart will stop pumping blood to my body.’ Most of the time people finally backed off, but a couple times people kept pressuring me, and it wouldn’t surprise me if someone considered swapping my drinks to prove I’m faking it.”

“I stopped going to parties because I didn’t trust the sh*theads at my school to not kill me.” ~ eorzeanangel

“It drives me mad that people think they have the right to pressure others into drinking or that it will be ok. How do they know it will be ok. I drink very rarely mostly not and when I do it’s so little.”

“Even people that have never seen me drink think it’s fine to pressure and push every time all night. If I myself go out and decide to have something they then feel that even if I refuse they can buy me or top up my glass and get mad as I should drink it to be courteous.”

“The amount of people that do this and think it’s fine staggers me.”

“edit for corrections” ~ Sweet-Interview5620

OP shouldn’t need to explain why they’re not drinking.