How To Say No To Alcohol and Other Drugs

Do you remember when someone else looked after nearly all your needs...

When your parents chose your clothes...

And watched while you crossed the street...

And had to OK all your decisions and plans?

All of us were little once. All of us went through a time of depending on someone else for all our needs. Today, you are old enough to take care of many of your own needs, pick your own friends, and make many of your own choices. One choice you may have to make is whether or not to use alcohol or other drugs. Just as you are responsible for learning to take care of yourself, you are responsible for saying no. No one else can do that for you.

This brochure is designed to help you say no, even if someone you like is saying yes and wants you to join them.

The Steps to Say No

1. Understand what is happening. (Someone is asking you to use alcohol or other drugs.) Realize that this is serious.

2. Remind yourself you should say no. (It's illegal and it's bad for you.)

3. Say NO. It takes courage to do what's right. Give a reason only if you want to.

4. Offer another choice. Use this step if the person offering you a drink or other drug is someone you want to keep as a friend. If your friend doesn't respect your "NO" or the person offering you alcohol or other drugs is not a friend, then use step 5.

5. Leave. There are some friends you may have to give up.

Jeff, an 8th grader, is shooting baskets at the playground. His friend, James, comes over and suggests they share a marijuana cigarette. Jeff really doesn't want to smoke it, but he likes James and they've been friends for a long time. Jeff is prepared. He knows what to do because he has practiced the steps to saying no.

Jeff says "No, I'm going to play ball - want to join me? James respects his friend and says "Sure," and the two boys shoot baskets together.

Jeff used steps 1, 2, 3, and 4. He didn't leave because his friend respected his saying no and was willing to do something else.

Kate is walking home from school. Her friend, Ashley, and another girl Kate doesn't know very well come up and start walking with her. The third girl says "Why don't you come over to my house. No one's home and we can get high." Kate looks doubtful a nd turns to Ashley for support. Ashley giggles and says " C'mon, let's do it, it'll be fun."

Kate is uncomfortable. She doesn't want to go, but she doesn't want the other girls to be mad at her. She says "No. I'll be grounded if I'm home late. See you later." And then Kate waves, and walks home by herself.

Kate used steps 1, 2, 3, and 5. She didn't offer another choice - it's her right! She doesn't think she wants to be friends with the new girl, and she will probably have to decide if she is willing to stay friends with Ashley.

What if you were Kate or Jeff? How would you say no? How do you think you would feel? Most kids feel a little scared when asked to do drugs, but very proud when they say no. It's important to remember that the more you say no, the easier it becomes .


1. Practice saying no - by yourself or with a friend. Go through the 5 steps in your head. Imagine yourself saying no when a friend asks you to use alcohol or other drugs. Imagine yourself saying no to someone you don't know very well.

2. Start a club, whether its a group of kids who want to help others say no, or a club for some other activities. Make one of the club rules "No alcohol or other drugs."

3. Join a group that does something you really enjoy. It's easier to say no when you're busy.

Ways To Say No

Here are some ways you might try to say no to alcohol or other drugs.

1. No, I really don't want to.

2. I don't take chances with my body.

3. No thanks, it's against the law.

4. No. Let's go ride bikes instead.

5. I don't believe in using that stuff.

6. I'm on the team, and we don't use.

7. Nope, don't want the hassle.

8. No thanks, I'm not into chemicals.

9. No, I need all the brains I've got.

10. No, I'm not into body pollution.

11. Write down your two best reasons.

What if adults you care about drink too much, or use other drugs?

It's important to know that the abuse of alcohol or use of other drugs by someone else, even your parents, is not your fault. You are responsible for your choices; others are responsible for theirs.

And there is help for dealing with your feelings about the- problem. The last page of this brochure has the names of some of the groups that can help you if someone in your family abuses alcohol or uses other drugs.


National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
P.O. Box 2345
Rockville, MD 20852
(301) 468-2600
(Provides information on alcohol and drugs and a listing by state of counseling and treatment centers.)

Just Say No Foundation
1777 N. California Blvd., Suite 200
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
800-258-2766 (in CA 415-939-6666)
(Provides help to start a "Just Say No Club")