I’m teetotal

A young person is standing in the street wearing glasses and a white jacket. He is sharing his story about being teetotal.

Jonathan, 22, has been teetotal almost all his life. He tells us why he doesn’t drink alcohol and what impact it has on his social life.

Deciding to be teetotal

I’ve never been a regular drinker. I tried a few cans aged about 12, when all my friends and I first started hanging out and listening to music, but I’ve never been drunk. Even then I only ever had one drink, no more. By the time I was 15 I decided I ‘didn’t drink’, although I didn’t realise I would keep this up for so long!

I’d had a few health issues in my teens that made me think I probably shouldn’t get too wrecked! Then, as my friends got more and more into drinking (and increasingly, drugs), I simply realised it wasn’t something I enjoyed. I didn’t like the taste, or the culture of getting drunk, and as I began to see the state my mates got into, I became quite glad of that. I’m quite lucky that I’m naturally a very outgoing and confident person, so I’ve never needed alcohol as a social lubricant!

Reactions to being teetotal

I’ve encountered very few problems through being teetotal. Of course, the occasional person tries to convince me to have a drink, but I’m very strong in my convictions, so this has never really bothered me. As I’m quite an independent-minded person, I’ve always taken a perverse pleasure in ignoring other people’s attempts to get me to drink!

Generally, most people are quite respectful of, if not intrigued by my choice. Telling my friends and family that I don’t drink has never really been an issue – as I’ve never been a drinker it’s not something they’ve ever questioned, like my hair colour or my interest in music. It’s just an intrinsic part of me.

Leading a full life

I’m always busy and like to be involved in lots of things, so not drinking fits in perfectly with my lifestyle. I go out socially as much as anyone I know, I’m a huge fan of live music and am into drum and bass nights. For me, the beauty of being teetotal is that I can enjoy all these pursuits but still be active during the day, too.

As I’ve grown up, not drinking has formed part of my philosophical outlook. I live a positive, productive, interesting life, and I know alcohol doesn’t fit into that viewpoint. It’s not really something I’ve had to resist – there’s no pull for me to drink. I’ve never not gone to a social event because of alcohol; most of my social activities revolve around places where drinking happens, like clubs, music venues and bars. I’ll often meet one or two friends ‘for a drink’, and they’ll have a pint while I stick to orange juice.

My thoughts and beliefs on alcohol

I’m not at all anti-drinking – each to their own – it’s just not for me. I think part of my attitude to alcohol has been shaped by the fact that it was never a big taboo with my family. My parents drank with meals and occasionally allowed me to, as well, so I believe that laws allowing and encouraging this sort of behaviour are helpful.

For me, the ability to get up and do fun or interesting things after a late night out, when I might otherwise be stuck in bed, seems a good enough incentive to stay sober! I recognise that I’m probably quite a unique case, given that my reasons for being teetotal and the way I ‘decided’ are quite fluffy. There’s never really been much thought behind it, it’s just something that happened and I’ve ended up quite liking it.

Interview by Susie Wild

Next Steps


Updated on 23-Feb-2023