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An Etiquette Guide For BBQ Season

July 3, 2019

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It’s BBQ season and that means a few things; hamburgers, hot dogs, fireworks, friends, beer, and booze. While some adults may choose to have a beer, others may choose not to drink. Both are okay. So why do people who refuse a drink often get questioned, creating an awkward conversation for both parties? Regardless of the reasons, we know one simple solution: be considerate of other people’s choices.


If someone refuses an alcoholic beverage when offered, it is not an opportunity to examine their choice. Instead, hand your friend that Diet Coke they asked for, maybe even toss in lime, and toast to being with one another during the holiday season. 

People have all sorts of motivations for not drinking but it is their right to refuse a drink without suspicion. Maybe the person is in recovery, pregnant, participating in a “dry month” challenge like “Dry July,” or they simply do not feel like drinking. Whatever the reason may be, it’s almost always none of your business. It is also not your job to inform others of a friends decision not to drink. Although often well intentioned, it is more appropriate to let people speak for themselves when it comes to their own sobriety.


Occasionally taking time off from drinking, sometimes referred to as intermittency, is a healthy practice for everyone. Research shows that going just one month without substances gives your brain enough time to repair itself and function better. Additionally, it can improve liver health and reduce elevated blood sugar. New apps like, Dry July and Try Dry make it even easier to participate in “month off” challenges by helping track time, calories, and money saved as a result of not drinking. 

Brief periods of intermittency can improve sleep, increase energy-levels, clear up your complexion, and provide an opportunity to evaluate your relationship with alcohol. Taking a temporary hiatus from drinking also frees up time for fun, healthy activities like spending time outdoors, exercising, reading, going to a museum or pursuing hobbies you might not otherwise have time for. 

The reason behind your friend’s decision not to drink doesn’t matter; what matters is they are making a healthy choice for themselves. Enjoy BBQ season with the ones you love, invite everyone to participate in toasts and remember to always have yummy non-alcoholic drinks on hand. 


Kelly King, PhD, MPH

Kelly has nearly a decade of research and managerial experience across academic, governmental, and nonprofit organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the New York City Department of Health, and the Rudd Center at Yale University. She served as the Population Health Manager for the Baltimore City Fire Department, where she utilized 911 data to inform programmatic and policy interventions to connect individuals with substance use disorders to available resources. Kelly received her PhD in Behavioral Science from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.